Spanish Small Talk

We’ve all experienced small talk at work, school, family events, school reunions and every other social event you can think of. But what exactly is this form of communication and why do we do it?

Small talk is the verbal exchange between two or more parties where simultaneously everything and nothing is spoken about. The topics of conversation are usually very superficial to help getting to know each other and can serve as an icebreaker. If your interest in Spanish extends beyond small talk, London Translate can help: find out more about our English-Spanish translation services.

1. Different countries, different customs: Spain

Small talk varies country to country and people to people. Southern Europeans, for example, are said to be very good at using lots of words to convey very little information, and below are two examples of how small talk is used in Spain.

¿Qué tal?

The equivalent of “what’s up?” or “how’s it going?” is used daily in Spanish. A Spanish speaker almost always begins a conversation with this question. The interesting thing is that an answer to this is not necessarily expected. “¿Qué tal?” is traditionally the question that you ask when you want to inquire about someone’s well-being. On the other hand, many Spanish speakers say it out of habit after “hola”. If it is the latter, you can answer it simply by repeating the question “¿qué tal?”.

Situation 1:

Hola, ¿qué tal?

+Muy bien ¿y tú?

Bien también

Situation 2:

Hola, ¿qué tal?

+Hey, ¿qué tal?

2. Discussing the weather (el tiempo)

The weather is a worldwide phenomenon. But the interesting thing is that in Spanish, it seems that you can discuss it for hours. Of course, the weather conditions in southern Europe is slightly different. People there love to talk, and the weather offers a lot to talk about; in Andalusia especially, as the temperatures in the south of Spain often rise above 45°C. In extreme cases it can even rise to over 50°C. Living beneath the blazing sun at these temperatures inspires you to talk about it. Spaniards love talking about the weather and here are a few typical phrases (usually used in colloquial speech) that you could use in such small talk:

¡Qué calor!What heat!
Estoy sudando como un polloI am sweating like a chicken (i.e. a lot)
¡Qué tiempo hace!What weather!
Hace más calor…It is really hot
Me muero de calorI am dying of heat (a very dramatic way of expressing a dislike of the heat)

What next? Would you like to learn some more Spanish small talk?

If you found this article interesting, follow these links to a few more related websites and videos:

The 350 Most Important Spanish Words

The Most Important Phrases for Your Spanish Holiday

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