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Spanish Interjections

How do you say “um” in Spanish? Or how about “yikes” or “all right”? Let’s learn some of the most common Spanish interjections and get practice using them in context!

Full Podcast Episode


Bueno, hablemos de algo más.

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re going to learn a bunch of interjections so that you can say things like “ouch”, “OK”, “stop”, and “goodbye” in Spanish.

First, we’re going to work a little bit more on indefinite words, because there are just a couple more that we didn’t have time to go over last week. The good news is that you’re already sort of familiar with them.

The first one is the adjective cuántos, spelled c-u-a-n-t-o-s, with an accent mark on the A. This is closely related to the word cuánto, which we learned as an adverb to ask “how much”. The word cuántos means “how many”. For example:

How many children does she have?

¿Cuántos hijos tiene?

For mass nouns, you might use it simply as cuánto or cuánta; for example:

How much water do you want?

¿Cuánta agua quieres?

A related word is cuanto without an accent mark, which is used in some very idiomatic cases, and not typically in questions. It means something like “as much” or “as much as”. Here’s one example:

They can have as much as they want.

Pueden tener cuanto quieran.

So to say “as much as they want”, we just used cuanto and then a subjunctive. Try it yourself with this next one:

You can do as much as you want!

¡Puedes hacer cuanto quieras!

Note that in these cases there’s a subjunctive because we’re referring to however much of something someone may want in the future. For the present, we don’t use the subjunctive. For example:

Yes, we have as much as we want.

Sí, tenemos cuanto queremos.

Now in these examples that we’ve been practicing so far, cuanto is technically being used as a pronoun. But it can also be used as an adjective before a noun in this sentence template:

I did as many things as he told me.

Hice cuantas cosas me dijo.

Try it yourself in this example:

We gave as much food as you told us.

Dimos cuanta comida nos dijiste.

Let’s practice all these uses of cuanto and cuántos.

We want to have as much work as we want.

Queremos tener cuanto trabajo queramos.

How many people passed here yesterday?

¿Cuánta gente pasó aquí ayer?

How many cars do you have?

¿Cuántos autos tienes?

I want him to have as much as he wants.

Quiero que tenga cuanto quiera.

He spends time with as many people as he wants.

Pasa tiempo con cuanta gente quiere.

Here’s another idiom that uses cuantos, specifically for countable items. To say “a small number of” something, you can say unos cuantos or unas cuantas. For example:

Only a small number of people came.

Solo unas cuantas personas vinieron.

Of course, you could just say unas personas, just like in English you could just say “a few”. But there’s more emphasis to fill out the phrase with unas cuantas personas.

And we’ll learn one more idiom that uses cuanto. See if you can tell what’s happening in this sentence:

The more you have, the less you do.

Cuanto más tienes, menos haces.

So this is an idiomatic sentence template that uses cuanto along with más or menos to say something like “the more” or “the less”. Here’s another example, and in this case we’ll use the subjunctive in the first clause because it’s implying something that will happen in the future. This is often the case in this sentence template.

The less they say, the less I am going to know.

Cuanto menos digan, menos voy a saber.

Let’s practice these uses of cuanto.

The more we talk, the less we do.

Cuanto más hablemos, menos hacemos.

We have a small number of things to do.

Tenemos unas cuantas cosas que hacer.

The less you want, the less you have to do.

Cuanto menos quieras, menos tienes que hacer.

She had a small number of friends.

Tenía unos cuantos amigos.

All right, let’s move on to something more fun: Interjections! One of the most common interjections in Spanish is actually the word bueno, which can be used at the beginning of a phrase to mean something like “all right”, as if to switch gears. Here’s an example:

All right, let’s talk about something else.

Bueno, hablemos de algo más.

You can also do this with the word pues, although it means something more like “well…”; it’s kind of like you’re thinking. For example:

Well, I’m not sure.

Pues, no estoy seguro.

Note that bueno is sometimes used that way as well; it’s one of the most commonly used interjections in Spanish.

Another common one is actually the word hey, which comes from English; it’s spelled h-e-y, but with a silent H. This word is generally used to get someone’s attention. For example:

Hey! We saw you there.

¡Hey! Te vimos ahí.

Another one that’s borrowed from English is okey, which in Spanish is spelled o-k-e-y. This word is used the same way in both languages.

Let’s practice using bueno, pues, hey, and okey as exclamations. For the purpose of this quiz, we’ll translate “all right” as bueno and “well” as pues.

All right, we have to pass by the place.

Bueno, tenemos que pasar por el lugar.

Well, I wanted that.

Pues, quería eso.

Hey, I don’t want them to talk.

Hey, no quiero que hablen.

Okay, we’re talking right now, so I’m going to say it.

Okey, estamos hablando ahora, entonces lo voy a decir.

Well, they spoke yesterday.

Pues, hablaron ayer.

Okay, we can do that.

Okey, podemos hacer eso.

All right, she can go.

Bueno, puede ir.

Hey, don’t do that!

Hey, ¡no hagas eso!

Now let’s look at some nonsense syllables! In English, we have things that we say randomly such as “ouch”, “um”, “uh”, and “huh”. If you learn the idiomatic equivalents of these, you’ll sound more like a natural Spanish speaker.

The syllable ay, spelled a-y, is the most natural way to say “ouch!” or “yikes!” or generally to exclaim that you’re startled or bothered. For example:

Yikes! What was that?

¡Ay! ¿Qué fue eso?

To say “um” or “uh” or “hmm”, you’re actually likely to say eh, spelled e-h. (Make sure to pronounce this not as “ey”, but as a nice clean eh, with no bend.) For example:

Hmm, I’m not sure.

Eh, no estoy seguro.

Two more nonsense syllables you can use are oh, spelled o-h, to express surprise, and ah, spelled a-h, to express relief or understanding. Here are some examples:

Oh! I didn’t know it.

¡Oh! No lo sabía.

Ah, now I see.

Ah, ya veo.

And another way to say “I see”, or “aha”, is the word claro, which as we learned means “clear”, but it’s also a common interjection. For example:

Ah, got it, he’s your friend.

Ah, claro, es tu amigo.

Let’s practice using ay, eh, oh, ah, and claro to dress up our Spanish sentences.

Ah, I see, she’s going to pass by your house.

Ah, claro, va a pasar por tu casa.

Oh, I don’t want anything to happen.

Oh, no quiero que pase nada.

Yikes, please don’t talk to me now (formal).

Ay, por favor no me hable ahora.

Umm, I didn’t spend time there.

Eh, yo no pasé tiempo ahí.

Yikes, now they’ll talk about me.

Ay, ahora hablarán de mí.

Hmm… I see, we’ll do it.

Eh… Claro, lo haremos.

We have just a few more essential interjections to learn. One way to say “goodbye” is adiós. However, don’t just use adiós as your only way of saying goodbye; there are plenty of other ways to say goodbye in Spanish, depending on what region you’re in. It’s kind of like the word “goodbye” in English; I rarely use it myself, because I’m much more likely to say “see you” or something like that. To say “see you” in Spanish, you literally say “we see each other”, or nos vemos. For example:

Bye! See you at the party!

¡Adiós! ¡Nos vemos en la fiesta!

Now on the more negative side, another common interjection is the word basta, which literally means “enough”, but it’s used to tell someone to stop something. For example:

Stop! Don’t do that!

¡Basta! ¡No hagas eso!

So you might use basta if someone is bothering you and making you angry. On the other hand, if you feel like you’ve bothered someone else, you might use the word perdón, which literally means “pardon”, but it’s commonly used as an interjection to mean “pardon me” or “I’m sorry”. For example:

Pardon me! I didn’t see you.

¡Perdón! No te vi.

Our last interjection is actually a word you already know, the word dale, which literally means “give to him” or “give to her”. But this word is often used as an exclamation to say “go ahead”. For example:

Go ahead! Do it!

¡Dale! ¡Hazlo!

Let’s practice basta, perdón, dale, adiós, and nos vemos.

Sorry, go ahead.

Perdón, dale.

I want you (formal) to pass the class; see you!

Quiero que usted pase la clase; ¡nos vemos!

Enough! I’ll leave now, so goodbye!

¡Basta! ¡Me iré ahora, así que adiós!

Go ahead, I’ll see you at the party!

¡Dale, nos vemos en la fiesta!

Sorry, she didn’t talk to me.

Perdón, ella no habló conmigo.

Enough! You already talked to them.

¡Basta!, ya hablaste con ellos.

They are spending time here, so I don’t want them to say goodbye.

Están pasando tiempo aquí, entonces no quiero que digan adiós.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/103. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

If you pass by my house, we’ll talk about a small number of things.

Si pasas por mi casa, hablaremos de unas cuantas cosas.

Hmmm, I’m not sure that my things are there.

Eh, no estoy seguro de que mis cosas estén ahí.

Sorry, we didn’t speak that day.

Perdón, no hablamos ese día.

All right, I want her to spend time with me.

Bueno, quiero que pase tiempo conmigo.

Let’s talk! I want you to talk to me.

¡Hablemos! Quiero que hables conmigo.

Well, she always puts that here.

Pues, ella siempre pone eso aquí.

All right, but if I speak, they don’t spend time with me.

Bueno, pero si hablo, no pasan tiempo conmigo.

Ah, the less you do, the less you’ll have.

Ah, cuanto menos hagas, menos tendrás.

(Formal) Please put as much as you want.

Por favor ponga cuanto quiera.

We always spends time here.

Siempre pasamos tiempo aquí.

Enough, I wasn’t talking to you.

Basta, no hablaba contigo.

Go ahead, we have to talk before I talk to him.

Dale, tenemos que hablar antes de que yo hable con él.

We’re talking about that book.

Hablamos de ese libro.

Hmm, she’ll talk about that.

Eh, ella hablará de eso.

Oh, they have as much food as they want.

Oh, tienen cuanta comida quieren.

How many books do you have?

¿Cuántos libros tienes?

Ah, I see; all right, see you!

Ah, claro; ¡bueno, nos vemos!

She’ll pass by your house and I want her to talk to you.

Pasará por tu casa y quiero que hable contigo.

You always talk a whole lot.

Siempre hablas demasiado.

He was talking that day.

Hablaba ese día.

Hey! I want you to talk to my friend.

¡Hey! Quiero que hables con mi amigo.

Yes, I’ll talk to you.

Sí, hablaré contigo.

Hey! I want to see you!

¡Hey! ¡Quiero verte!

Ouch, the more you do, the more happens.

Ay, cuanto más haces, más pasa.

I have talked about as many books as he wanted.

He hablado de cuantos libros él quería.

The less you do your work, the less other people do it.

Cuanto menos haces tu trabajo, menos lo hacen otras personas.

Okay, how many do you want?

Okey, ¿cuántos quieres?

Go ahead! Pass that thing!

¡Dale! ¡Pasa esa cosa!

Okay, I’ll give it to you!

Okey, ¡te lo daré!

Ouch! I told you I didn’t speak with him.

¡Ay! Te dije que no hablé con él.

Oh! I have to say goodbye now, see you!

¡Oh! Tengo que decir adiós ahora, ¡nos vemos!

(all of you) Enough! Don’t do such things!

¡Basta! ¡No hagan tales cosas!

They talk about the gentleman’s family.

Hablan de la familia del señor.

They want as many things as they can have.

Quieren cuantas cosas puedan tener.

The more he talks, the less he does.

Cuanto más habla, menos hace.

Well, of course, I pass by that place each week.

Pues, claro, paso por ese lugar cada semana.

Sorry, but you’ll talk to her even if you don’t want to.

Perdón, pero hablarás con ella aunque no quieras.

Talk to me or I’ll leave!

¡Habla conmigo o me iré!

In the past we had a small number of friends.

En el pasado teníamos unos cuantos amigos.

I have to leave now, so goodbye!

Tengo que irme ya, ¡así que adiós!

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/103.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn some new nouns for the parts or amounts of things, including the words for “number”, “a couple”, and “the middle”.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Michael Agudelo. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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