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Barcelona, Spain

Getting by without speaking Spanish/Catalonian?

I'm headed to Barcelona, but I've never studied the Spanish language. I've also heard that in Catalonia the language differs very much anyway. Will I be able to get by with any simple questions/statements or a mix of English and French?

11 Answers

top answer by
Tiffany from Corvallis

Barcelona is an extremely touristy, international city that is flooded with people year-round, so the locals, especially business owners in popular districts will be comfortable enough with English. You'll be fine with what you know.

If you want to learn some basic greetings in Spanish like Buenos Días, Buenas Noches, Grácias, De Nada, and your numbers, 1-10, that's a nice thing for overall politeness that I recommend for all languages. Otherwise, just go and enjoy.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Barcelona (city)
3 thanks

answered by
Jahn from Barcelona

Hey Tina! You will perfectly find your way. All of them are helpfull, even if they don´t speak a word of English, at least they will try in Barcelona

Have a lot of fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Barcelona (city)
2 thanks

answered by
Supun from Carson (California)

Catalan is actually close to French. Like everyone is saying you won't have any problems in Barcelona. The people are really nice and most can speak English pretty well. They'll give you a lot of props for trying to speak Catalan if you learn a few phrases.

While you're in Spain, if you have enough time you should try to spend a day or two in the Pyrenees (4 hour drive where you can also visit Andorra on the way) so you can practice your french. A lot of french tourists go there on their way to Barca.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pyrenees (attraction)
  2. Andorra (country)
2 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Gita from Mumbai

Although I speak a little Spanish, I wasn't in a situation where I had to speak any, in the 8 days I was there, except for once with a taxi driver who wanted to know the building number. Most local people I encountered who were either in restaurants or tourist attractions spoke English, but were very happy to hear Spanish from a foreigner.

The only time I foresee a need to speak Spanish if you're asking for directions on the streets, in which case, I'd suggest Google Maps, Barcelona's very well mapped out and places tagged on it.

Have a great trip!

1 thanks

answered by
Terry from Honaunau, Hawaii

English is spoken everywhere in Barcelona.  Being one of the most important tourist destinations in Europe you will not find a problem not speaking Spanish or Catalan.  Although it make the trip more fun if you do speak a little Spanish.  Spanards are a very polite and a very friendly people.  

1 thanks

answered by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

Neither one of us speaks much Spanish beyond the basics, which I always recommend learning in any language because it makes for a more interesting experience. We had absolutely no problems in Barcelona with our limited knowledge-most of the younger generation speaks English pretty well.

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answered by
Krista from San Francisco

Definitely! I barely speak Spanish and my boyfriend speaks Italian, and we didn't have any problem. Most restaurants/signage list items in English as well.

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answered by
Jen from Los Angeles

Yes, you will be completely fine getting by in Barcelona without speaking Spanish/Catalonian. I was just there with a friend a few weeks ago and she speaks less Spanish than I do and we felt completely comfortable getting by/walking around, exploring the city not being able to fully speak Spanish. I would, however, make an effort to at least learn a few of the basic words (greetings, how to order from a menu, ask for directions, tell a cab driver where to go, etc.), as this was very helpful to me (and I'd like to think polite to the locals that I was interacting with) during the few days that we were there.

If you haven't tried it yet, download the app called "Duolingo" as it's a free language app that will help teach you a few basics of a number of languages! Enjoy your trip! Safe travels!

answered by
Sandra from Portland

Nice to know a little Spanish but not mandatory.

answered by
Aaron from Spain

We were there a few months ago. You will have no problem communicating in most of the tourist places. Spanish is understood so don't worry too much if all you know is Spanish and English, you will be fine. 

answered by

 I know I can safely say "everyone" speaks English, especially the young, and most of the older population.  I had no problems at all in either of my trips there.  I agree you will make points if you try the general phrases in Catalan.  They all speak both Spanish and Catalan which are taught in school and Catalan is usually the preferred language in everyday usage among the natives. They are  very proud of being an autonomous state of Spain and very proud of their own language.  Catalan is actually a mix of many languages and you will do fine if you have to "listen" to it in French. You will get the gist if necessary.  Learn a few words, it's fun.  Enjoy the trip. It's impossible not to !

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