Spanish Conversation Starters

Young women walking and having fun in Barcelona

Start up a conversation with more than ¿Cómo estás?

    Young women walking and having fun in Barcelona
    Used under license from Getty Images

If there’s an undeniably obvious skill that most Spanish students are keen to master it’s being able to start up a conversation. While this can seem daunting — mainly because people don’t believe they are proficient or fluent enough to keep a conversation going — it isn’t nearly as difficult as you may think.

The Spanish conversation starter, ¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? (Hello! How are you?) is the traditional line Spanish beginners are taught to engage in a nice chat with someone. However, you can make things way more interesting by just using a different starter for your conversation.

Textbooks can be rather unhelpful when it comes to teaching you about real-world, conversational Spanish, but learn our list of 25 Spanish conversation starters and you can strike up a chat in many different ways next time you meet your fellow Spanish language learners or a native speaker.


25 Spanish Conversation Starters to Break the Ice

  1. ¡Hola! ¿Sabes a qué hora cierra este lugar? (Hello! Do you know what time this place closes?)
    While you aren’t necessarily gathering the world’s most important information, this can be a good option if you don’t want to throw in the very common "¿cómo estás?". Besides, this can lead up to a very insightful discussion on why you and your interlocutor are visiting said place.
  2. ¿Te gustan los animales? (Do you like animals?)
    You don’t have to be an animal lover to know that pets, and animals in general, bring people together, which means this can be a go-to starter in your next Spanish conversation. Follow-up questions such as ¿Tienes mascota? (Do you have a pet?), ¿Tienes un gato? (Do you have a cat?), and ¿Tienes un perro? (Do you have dog?) are the preferred way to keep this type of conversation going.
  3. ¿Cuántos idiomas habla/s? (How many languages do you speak?)
    Asking people how many languages they speak is a good way to strike up a conversation for a couple reasons. First, you will talk about a topic you like (don’t you?). Second, language enthusiasts will probably give you tips on how to improve your language learning process.
  4. ¿Te gusta bailar? (Do you like to dance?)
    If you want to let your hair down and you’d like to ask a Spanish-speaking friend to tag along this is the to-go question. In Latin America, people are known for being very excited about going out dancing, so why not start a conversation like this?
  5. ¿Qué tipo de música te gusta? (What kind of music do you like?)
    Music is a topic that most people can participate in. This question can get you to use more natural Spanish next time you don’t know what to talk about. Besides, chances are you will get some great music recommendations, which is a bonus.
  6. ¿Puedes decirme la hora? (Can you tell me the time?)
    Don’t underestimate the power of this type of question. While some people will go on about their lives, there will always be someone who will genuinely want to take the conversation further.
  7. ¿Cómo celebras Año Nuevo en tu país? (How do you celebrate New Year’s in your country?)
    What’s great about learning this question is that it can have some variations depending on the holiday you want to refer to. It’s the perfect way to start a conversation and, in turn, show some interest in the person’s background.
  8. ¿Cuál es tu trabajo ideal? (What is your dream job?)
    You, and lots of people out there, have plans for the future. This is a question that will get you closer to other Spanish-speaking people. You can open up about your plans and so can they.
  9. ¿Qué te gustaba hacer de niño? (What did you like to do when you were a child?)
    This isn’t really about reminiscing, it’s about breaking the ice and being warmer to the person you’re talking to. It’s a fascinating way to learn about someone.
  10. ¿Cómo eras de niño/a? (What were you like as a boy/girl?)
    This can be a good follow-up for the previous question. Whether you want to know about personality or appearance, most people will love to talk about fond memories, hobbies, and more.
  11. ¿En qué trabajas? ¿Qué haces para ganarte la vida? (What’s your job?/Whah do you do for a living?)
    Here’s two questions that, although different, mean the same thing. Most people will like to talk (or complain) about their jobs or what they do on a daily basis, so why not ask them what work they do?
  12. ¿Cuál es tu comida favorita? (What is your favorite food?)
    Food, just like music or animals, brings people together.This is one of those questions you can lean on if you’re stuck as people will probably be more than happy to answer it and exchange food interests with you.
  13. ¿Cuál fue el ultimo libro que leíste? (What was the last book you read?)
    Reading is a recommended topic to open up conversations with people you’re getting to know or in class discussions. This is a friendly way to approach someone while practicing your Spanish skills.
  14. ¿A qué le tienes miedo? (What are you afraid of?)
    The question isn’t about people letting you in on their deep, dark secrets, but about getting to know someone better. More often than not, people have things in common, including phobias.
  15. ¿Cuál es tu tipo de película favorita? (What is your favorite type of movie?)
    If there’s anything people enjoy a lot, it’s going to the movies. This means that this definitely can serve as a great ice breaker with most Spanish speakers. Try it today!
  16. ¿Cuál es tu cantante favorito? (Who is your favorite singer?)
    If you have a favorite singer/artist/band, you know that talking about this topic gets you excited and gives you the urge to share your opinion with someone else. This will then be a phenomenal conversation starter in Spanish.
  17. ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)
    This is a basic question, but it can lead up to a deeper conversation that will involve shared interests, culture, and even history.
  18. ¿Te gusta el chocolate? (Do you like chocolate?)
    Chocolate is everyone’s friend. It can also be the perfect gift. Why don’t you throw in this question next time you’re talking to someone in Spanish?
  19. ¿Te gusta viajar? (Do you like to travel?)
    Many language learners’ main goal when learning a foreign language is being able to communicate with other people abroad. This means that you can use this question and find out about that person’s past trips, dream vacations, and so on.
  20. ¿Fuiste a la universidad? (Did you go to college?)
    Much like talking about jobs, conversing about college, studying or academic interests is a rather interesting way to find out more about people. This is the to-go question in these instances.
  21. ¿Te gusta cocinar? (Do you like to cook?)
    This might not seem like a revolutionary conversation starter, but it is a safe way to feel comfortable when talking to a stranger you don’t know anything about.
  22. ¿Cómo conoces a (nombre)? (How do you know (person’s name)?)
    This is a perfect getting-to-know-you phrase. If you use this question, it means that you and your interlocutor have friends in common, which is a very natural conversation starter.
  23. ¿Tienes hermanos? (Do you have any siblings?)
    This question is still technically small talk but asking about someone’s family is a nice transition from the more job interview-like questions.
  24. Una pregunta (Let me ask you something)
    Rather than a question, this is a great verbal sprinkle used to preface a question.
  25. ¿Por qué estás aprendiendo español? (Why are you learning Spanish?)
    If you meet another Spanish learner, you might be tempted to ask why they are learning said language, and by all means, please do so. Exchanging this type of information is good for motivational purposes.

Keep the Conversation Going

While this list isn’t comprehensive, this is a great head start for those who want to be more conversational in Spanish. As said before, it can seem daunting, but determination will get you on your way. What are you waiting for? Talk to your Spanish-speaking friends and show them what you just learned.