11 Basic Spanish Words and Phrases Proven to Help Your Kids Speak Spanish Better

“Where are more…” 🤔 I asked when looking for a folder. “What?” my friend asked. I had forgotten the word for folder. Learning basic Spanish words and phrases can help you if you’re in this kind of situation someday when talking with a Spanish-speaker.

Pinterest pin image with blog post title and image of Spanish flag

After my friend asked me what I was asking about, I said, “You know, the yellowish things that go in the filing cabinet.” After she laughed at me for a minute, she asked “Folders?” Yup. That was the word I needed. #mombrain

When learning a new language, there are going to be times you don’t know a word, but you do know words that can describe what you want. This is why knowing basic Spanish words and phrases are really important!

Read on to learn about the essential eleven verbs in Spanish + other important words that your kids need to know to be able to communicate well in Spanish.

Once your kids know these verbs which are in the category of basic Spanish words and phrases, then they’ll be able to communicate better with Spanish-speakers because they can get their meaning across by describing their message with words they know. Like I did with the folders.

For another example, when my oldest Alex was little and didn’t know the words for cream cheese, he asked me to put “bagel butter” on his bagel. He used the words he knew (bagel and butter) and put them together to get his message across.

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My Spanish-speaking friend forgot the word for veterinarian, so she said, “animal doctor.” Again, she used the words she knows (animal and doctor) to get her message across. Your kids can do the same thing with these basic Spanish words and phrases.

These 11 verbs are in the top 50 of the most frequently used words in the Spanish language based on the book A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish by Mark Davies. I use this dictionary to create my lessons to make sure your kids learn the most important words to be able to talk to and understand Spanish speakers.

All the verbs but querer (to want) are the top 10 verbs in the list. I added querer to the list and call it the essential 11 because you have to be able to say and understand “want.” The word “want” is an absolute must on our list of basic Spanish words and phrases we want our kids to know.

How to Learn Spanish

A myth I hear often about learning language is if you learn the grammar rules and practice speaking, then you’ll be able to speak Spanish. Sorry to get a little nerdy here, but if you look at language acquisition research it shows that people need to hear and read a language to acquire it. Not learn the grammar or be forced to speak it.

We all learn language the same way according to Dr. Stephen Krashen, a leading language acquisition researcher. And if you think about how we teach our kids their first language, we don’t give them a bunch of grammar rules and make them speak the language. We talk to them, and we read books to them. Check out this post on how to learn Spanish.

And the best place to start? With basic Spanish words and phrases that will help your kids say what they want to say.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Spanish?

A common question that I get is how long does it take to learn Spanish? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it takes lots of time. There aren’t short cuts regardless of people claiming to be fluent in one month (unless they literally studied Spanish every waking hour for that month).

To acquire Spanish so you can talk to and listen to Spanish-speakers takes time and comprehensible input (which means that you understand what you’re reading and listening to).

Even though it takes time to learn another language, focusing on basic Spanish words and phrases will help your kids be able to communicate quicker.

Because of this, I’ve created my lessons and activities to give your kids comprehensible input with basic Spanish words and phrases. The time will happen as your kids complete the lessons and activities. Check out my post for more detailed info on how long it takes to learn Spanish.

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Eleven Essential Verbs (Basic Spanish Words and Phrases) to Communicate in Spanish

Below are the essential eleven Spanish verbs + an activity to start learning them. They’re in order of how I teach them.

⭐️ All of the videos have the words in Spanish and English on the screen so your kids can still do the activities even if they don’t know Spanish yet! ⭐️


The first verb is hay (there is/there are). Hay is a conjugated form of haber, and your kids can learn it with this virtual field trip to the forest.

Tener – To Have

The second verb is tener (to have). The video below uses hay and tiene (he / she has) to describe a family, so your kids can learn immediate family members also.

Querer – To Want

I created the story below with one of my Spanish 1 classes years ago using hay, tiene, and quiere. They were hands-down the worst behaved class I’ve ever had, but they were also the most fun to create stories with! (I liked the kids individually, but when they were put together, they’re class personality was the worst!)

I’ve updated this video to make an animated story.

Ser – To Be

This verb means “to be” and is used to describe people. It has many other uses but I keep it simple for my Spanish 1 students. 😄

This video practices adjectives to describe ourselves why practicing the “I” form of ser (soy – I am) and the “you” form of ser (eres – are you / you are). Actions and conversation make this engaging for kids. 🙌

Estar – To Be

This verb also means “to be.” Yup, Spanish has two verbs that mean “to be” but are used in specific ways. Estar is used with emotions and location. It’s used in other ways as well, but I keep this one simple for my students too.

Your kids will get a feel for how you use them the more they hear and read them. And they can start with this animated story! The story reviews other 11 verbs too.

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Ir – To Go

In this video, I describe pictures and ask questions about them using va (he / she goes). It also reviews está and quiere.

Hacer – To Do / To Make

The next verb is hacer (to do or to make). In this video, your kids can draw an ice cream cone with me while practicing hago (I make / I’m making) plus learn some shapes and school supply words.


I give examples of things I can do in this video to practice puedo (I can).


The next verb is decir (to say or to tell). In this video I read from a booklet I made that describes different ways people say words in other countries. You can buy the bundle with the booklet here.

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Click here for activities that include teaching dar (to give). They are currently free (but not for long!) This video includes a story from one of the activities.


This video is a story about what 2 boys find in the forest. It includes veo (I see).

As you go through these activities and my other lessons, you’ll learn nouns too. But if you haven’t learned them yet, you can easily look them up when speaking with someone because nouns are a lot easier to look up in a dictionary or translator than verbs.

If you want to become fluent in Spanish and be able to speak with people, you have to learn these basic Spanish words and phrases! Start with the first video to learn hay and keep going from there!

And if you know anyone who wants to start learning basic Spanish words and phrases with their kids, please share with the buttons on the left!

P.S. Are you looking for a quick and fun way to help your kids start learning Spanish? + help them learn more basic Spanish words and phrases? If so, check out my free Spanish for Kids Starter Guide! You can immediately use any of the 9 simple tips to introduce your kids to Spanish. Know what the best part is? You don’t have to know Spanish to use it!

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