The Most Important Words in Spanish

A girl I knew in Highschool...

I knew a girl in highschool who took four years of Spanish and still couldn’t speak it. When I asked her if she could speak Spanish she literally laughed at me and replied with a snark “...yeah right”). 

For her Spanish class was just another credit on the college trail.. But for me, someone who actually really wanted to learn to speak Spanish...her answer cut to my soul (emoji).

When you’ve put hours of work and study in, and still struggle to speak Spanish it’s really discouraging. 

You start feeling like you’ll never learn a foreign language. You start thinking that you are the problem. 

You tell yourself you’re too old or not smart enough…and then you move on with your day and forget about the travels you wanted to take, the people you wanted to meet, or in my case….the romantic bachata songs you wanted to sing (don’t judge).

Then you never learn Spanish. 

Well I’m here to tell you that the problem isn’t you. You can learn Spanish. In fact you can learn it faster and more easily than you ever thought possible.

Seriously, it’s backed by research. There’s even this Spanish course which uses the principle

The solution is to focus on the words that matter most.

In most languages (Spanish included) the 100 most frequently used words will make up over 45% of what you will hear in a given conversation

The power of frequency words

Now understanding only 45% of what you hear will not make for great communication, but it’s a HUGE uptick from the 0% of someone who knows absolutely nothing in Spanish. Considering there are 100,000’s of words in the Spanish language, the mileage you get out of the 100 most frequent words is nothing short of astounding. 

The results get even more interesting when you increase the number of words you know.

Once you know the top 250 most frequent words, you are able to communicate and construct sentences from scratch yourself. 

Once you get up to the 750 most frequent words you have covered the words native speakers of all levels (educated and uneducated) use on a daily basis. 

100, 250,....even 750 words….these aren’t insurmountable goals. Back in college I wish my papers were only required to be 750 words!!

In reality, a little work done with efficiency will get you further than a lot of work with no efficiency (Think of the 80/20 rule). But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what these fancy pancy researchers say.

This is the principle most courses and apps forget (or ignore), and we Spanish learners have to suffer for it. 

But lucky for us there are some courses designed around this principle. Here’s one that teaches you 88,000 phrases with just 138 words.

Take action (Free pdf)

So how can you start using these frequency words and jump start your Spanish speaking skills?

Find a frequency list of Spanish words. We put together list of 405 of the most common for you to download below.

405 Frequent Spanish Words

Downloand now for free

Once you have your list, download a free flashcard app like Anki and start copying and pasting to make your own flashcards.

Bonus tip: use forvo for free audio recordings to use in your flash cards, and google image search for free images.

It will take a few hours and a little bit of keyboard and computer mouse related elbow grease. But at the end of the day you will have a free and powerful flashcard deck of 405 of the most frequently used Spanish words that will launch your speaking and comprehension skills to the next level. 

Keep in mind you will still need to learn the grammar to go with these words too

Don't feel like spending hours making Anki cards? Use this...

If you’re not a fan of flashcards or you don’t have the time or energy to make your own. Check out this resource which will teach you 88,000 phrases with just 138 Spanish words.