The first thing we do when we arrive in any country is try to learn some key phrases. If you’re going to travel long term, these are phrases to know in any language. Some of these words or phrases are obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t even try to use the local language. You’d also be surprised at how much most locals appreciate your attempts at speaking to them in their language (even if they speak English).
12 phrases to know in any language
These phrases will help you survive abroad. They might get you a free drink, a great deal, or maybe just a blushing smile. But at the very least they will all earn you respect from the locals for trying.
1. Hello. Nothing is more awkward that not knowing what to say when someone greets you.
2. Thank You! Don’t be rude, say thank you, and say it in their language.
3. Excuse Me. Surprisingly, some languages don’t have a direct translation for ‘excuse me’, but if they do, it will make your life so much easier, especially in crowded cities.
4. Please. All moms teach their kids to ask nicely. Here’s your chance to ask nicely.
5. This is delicious! This is the phrase that will earn you the most praise and smiles.
6. Where is the bathroom? Don’t get stuck having to mime what peeing looks like.
7. You’re Welcome. Can you really have good manners without the phrase “you’re welcome” in your vernacular?
8. How much is this? Many shops and restaurants in the rest of the world don’t list their prices. Learning this phrase will help keep you from spending more than you expect. This is especially useful at local markets.
9. That’s too expensive! Bartering is a national sport in countless countries around the world. If you can at least try to negotiate in their language, they might be more willing to bring down their prices.
10. May I have a discount? Like I just said, bartering is a favorite pastime for many. Why not join the game?
11. Water. You don’t even need to know how to complete a sentence using this word. As long as you can say the word ‘water’, you’ll be good to go.
12. Do you speak English? Odds are the answer to their question will be “a little”, and then they’ll proceed to wow you with quite understandable English. I truly believe it’s respectful to ask before you force your language on them.
It may seem hard, but if you’re just going to one country you can find a helpful phrase book for your Kindle or find really helpful videos on YouTube. Like this one that teaches you how to say hello in 31 different languages.
Having visited more than 60 countries, it’s hard to believe we can pick a favorite anything, but we do have a favorite phrase. Our all time favorite phrase we’ve learned is “Khawp jai lai lai” (thank you very much in Laotian).
We hope this list of phrases to know in any language will help you get around while you travel.
Let us know what your favorite phrases to survive abroad are?