Nothing helps you to stand out while you travel more than speaking the local language. Although I wouldn’t expect most travellers to master a foreign language before a short visit, learning a few key phrases in a foreign language will open up a world of possibilities for you.
To help you start learning a new language for your next trip, I’ve put together a list of 101 basic phrases you should learn in any foreign language. Spend a little time with these, and your travels will open up like you never thought possible!
Basic Phrases & Greetings
Pressed for time? Start right here. It shouldn’t take long to store a handful of these into your arsenal of foreign language survival phrases and begin to build up your language learning confidence. Master these common phrases in different languages and the response will be overwhelmingly positive. Start with a simple hello and keep going until you’re able to have your first conversation in your target foreign language. Test these basic phrases out on your next trip and see!
2) How are you? / What’s up?
3) I’m fine. And you?
5) Thank you. / Thank you very much.
6) You’re Welcome
7) Goodbye. / Bye. / See you soon.
9) Excuse me.
10) I’m sorry.
11) What’s your name?
12) I’m… / My name is… / I am called…
13) Nice to meet you.
14) Where are you from?
15) I’m from…
16) I’d like to introduce my friend/wife/husband.
17) How old are you?
18) I’m… years old.
19) What do you do for a living?
20) I’m a/an…
21) What do you do for fun? / What are your hobbies?
22) I (don’t) like…
Language & Communication
Pinning down basic phrases in different languages is hardly going to bring you to fluency. No doubt, you’ll need to ask for clarification, whether you’re tackling the most difficult foreign languages to learn or some of the easiest languages for English speakers. Here’s a good place to start.
25) Do you speak…?
26) I (don’t) understand.
27) I speak a little…
28) I (don’t) speak…
29) Could you please speak a little slower?
30) Could you write that down?
31) Could you repeat that?
32) How do you say…?
33) What does… mean?
34) What time is it?
35) It’s (five) o’clock.
Shopping & Money
If you’re travelling in country where bargaining is a big part of the culture, these essential phrases might be fun to try out. And, hey, they may even save you a little moolah!
36) How much?
37) I would like…
38) Can I pay by credit card/debit card?
39) Here you go.
40) Could I see this/that one?
41) What time do you open/close?
42) Do you have this in small/large/medium?
43) Do you have anything cheaper?
44) It’s too expensive.
45) I’ll give you… for it.
46) Where can I exchange money?
Getting to and from places is a huge part of travel. If you’re travelling in a region where English isn’t widely spoken as a second language, the key phrases in this section are absolutely indispensable.
47) How much for a first class/second class/economy ticket to…?
48) A one-way/return ticket to… please.
49) Here’s my passport.
50) What time does the bus/train/plane/ferry from… arrive?
51) What time does the bus/train/plane/ferry to… depart?
52) Which platform/gate/terminal?
53) Is the bus/train/plane direct?
54) Do I have to change buses/trains?
55) Do I need a seat reservation?
56) Is this seat taken?
57) When is the next train/bus/minibus/ferry to…?
58) Could you call me a taxi?
59) I’d like to go to…
60) Could you let me know when to get off?
61) Where could I rent a bike/car?
62) I’d like to rent a bike/car.
Eating & Drinking
63) Could you recommend a good restaurant?
64) What would you recommend?
65) What are some local specialties?
66) What is the special of the day?
67) Could I see the menu, please?
68) A beer/coffee/tea, please.
69) Could I get the bill, please. / The check, please.
70) I’m allergic to…
71) That was delicious!
72) This isn’t what I ordered.
73) Can I buy you a drink?
74) Let’s have another!
Getting lost isn’t always a bad thing. At times, however, it can be downright frustrating. Memorize a couple of these basic phrases to keep on the right track.
75) How do I get to…?
76) It’s on the left/on the right/straight ahead/at the corner.
77) How far is…?
78) Where is the closest bank/post office/exchange office?
79) Where can I find tourist information?
80) Do you have a map?
81) Can you show me that on the map?
82) Where is the (American) embassy/consulate?
Compared to the more common phrases above, you’ll probably use these far less. Still could be handy though.
83) What is the entrance fee?
84) What is that building?
85) What’s on at the cinema/theatre/opera tonight?
86) That’s a beautiful church/cathedral/building.
87) What is there to see around here?
88) I have a reservation.
89) Do you have any single/double rooms available?
90) Could I see the room?
91) I’d like to stay for… nights.
92) Is breakfast included?
93) The TV/air conditioner/lamp in my room doesn’t work.
94) Could I get a different room?
95) Is there a restaurant here?
Health & Emergencies
Hopefully you won’t be needing these phrases too often! Memorize them just in case.
97) I need a doctor/dentist/police officer.
98) Is there pharmacy nearby?
99) Can I use your phone?
100) Call the police/ambulance!
101) Leave me alone!