Speak Spanish Today: At the Restaurant/En el Restaurante, Part 2

Now let’s take what you learned from the previous post to the next level. We’re going to make complete sentences, then create flashcards to “repeat” them out loud and “practice” them in order to retain what we’ve learned.

Review the following sentence patterns and pay special attention to the sample sentences. Keep the vocabulary flashcards from the previous post. You will need them to complete this exercise.

Learn

Read over the sentence patterns, then review the sample sentences.

Sentence order

1. querer = to want
Quiero + el/la/los/las  (entremés, plato principal o postre) por favor. = I want + (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert).
Quiere + el/la/los/las  (entremés, plato principal o postre) por favor. = (He, he, she or you) wants/want (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert).
Quisiera + el/la/los/las   (entremés, plato principal o postre) por favor. = (I, he, she or you) would like + (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert).

Sample sentences:

  • Quiero la sopa de vegetales por favor. = I want the vegetable soup please.
  • Quiere los plátanos maduros por favor. = He wants the sweet plantains. *Note. Also means she or you…
  • Quisiera el tres leches por favor. I would like the tres leches. *Note. Tres leches is the name of the dessert so it remains in singular form. Also note that this sentence could also mean He wants, she wants or you want. Using “quisiera” is a much more polite way to ask for something.

2. comer = to eat
Hoy quiero comer + el/la/los/las (entremés, plato principal o postre). = I want to eat +the  (appetizer, main dishor dessert).
Hoy quiere comer + el/la/los/las  (entremés, plato principal  o postre). = I want to eat + the (appetizer, main dish or dessert).
Hoy quisiera comer + el/la/los/las (entremés, plato principal o postre). = Today (I, he, she or you) would like to eat the (appetizer, main dish, or dessert)

Sample sentences

  • Hoy quiero comer el pescado. = Today I want to eat the fish.
  • Hoy quiere comer el pollo. = Today she wants to eat the chicken.
  • Hoy quisiera comer la ensalada. = Today I would like to eat the salad. *Note. You couldn’t say “comer la sope” in Spanish  instead “tomar la sopa”.

3. tomar/beber= to drink
Hoy quiero tomar + un/una (bebida). = I want to drink + a/an (drink).
Hoy quiere tomar + un/una (bebida). = I want to drink + a/an  (drink).
Hoy quisiera tomar + un/una  (bebida). = Today (I, he, she or you) would like to drink + a/an (drink).

Sample sentences

  • Hoy quiero tomar una cerveza. = Today I want to have a beer.
  • Hoy quiere tomar un jugo de naranja. = Today she wants to have an orange juice.
  • Hoy quisiera tomar un agua. = Today I would like a water. *Note. Agua is a femine word, but it is preceded by “un” and not “una” due to a grammar rule that states if a word begins with a stressed “a” sound then you precede it with the indefinite article “un”.

4. dar = to give, traer = to bring, to come with

The verb “dar” is not used as a command here so it is not pushy. This is a question and ,therefore, it is polite.

¿Me da + un/una/el/la/los/las (entremés, plato principal, bebida o postre) para mi (entremés, plato principal, bebida o postre)? = Can you give me + (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert) for my (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert)?
¿Me trae + un/una/el/la (bebida) por favor? = Can you bring me + a (drink) please?
¿Qué trae el/la (plato principal)? = What comes with the (main dish)?

Sample sentences

  • ¿Me da los tostones para el entremés y el pollo para el plato principal? = Could you give me the the fried green plantains as my appetizer and the chicken as my main dish.
  • ¿Me trae una cervez⌠a por favor? = Could you bring me a beer please?
  • ¿Qúe trae el pescado? = What comes with the fish?

Bonus:

Here are some Spanish verbs that replace an entire phrase in English “to have (breakfast, lunch or dinner)”. It is not correct to say “tener desayuno, tener almuerzo or tener cena” nor “comer desayuno, comer almuerzo or comer cena”.

-desayunar = to have breakfast
-almorzar = to have lunch
-cenar = to have dinner

Sample sentences

  • ¿Quisieras desayunar conmigo el lunes? = Would you like to have breakfast with me on Monday?
  • Almuerza todos los días con su mamá. = He has lunch with his mom everyday.
  • Cena a las ocho una vez la semana. = She has dinner at 8 once a week.

Repeat + Practice

Create flashcards for the verbs, indirect objects (un/una) and direct objects (el/la/los/las) out of index cards and combine these new cards with the ones you made for the post from Part 1. Create the flashcards the same way you did in Part 1. Then read the following instructions.

Flashcard Drill Instructions

  1. Make separate piles for each type of word facing up in Spanish. Then spread the piles loosely in order to see many of the cards.
  2. Make sentences following the sentence patterns above by choosing a card from each pile.
  3. Create as many sentences as possible while saying them out loud. This time realize you will not be able to check your answers on the back of the cards because the sentence order can be different between the two languages.

Use

This is where it all comes together. Unless you use what you have just “uploaded” into your brain you will lose it. So I challenge you to do one of the following.

  1. Go to the Latin/Spanish section closest to where you live and find a eatery where the majority of the staff speaks Spanish.
  2. Search online for reviews of the most authentic Latin American restaurants closest to you. They can be Mexican, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Colombian, etc. Have fun go eat there, but order in Spanish!
  3. Invite a Spanish-speaking friend out to lunch or dinner. Ask what their favorite place to eat is, but you must speak in Spanish! It will be a much more successful exercise if you invite a friend that does NOT speak much English.
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How to find Spanish speakers in Your Area

Level: All Levels

In the summer of 1995 I sadly finished another college internship at Disney World and returned home to Ohio. It was my second time doing the program within a year’s time. I didn’t want to leave for many reasons, but one was because the amount of Spanish speakers that I would encounter would drop off the face of the earth. There just aren’t that many native Spanish-speakers in Ohio especially compared to Central Florida and this is both the visitors from out of the country and residents.

So how was I going to practice Spanish with seemingly no one to practice with?

It did look gloomy, but there was hope. That ray of light that shines through when all hope seems lost. I wanted to learn so badly that there was nothing that was going to stop me. I found Spanish speakers any way I could.  One of the first things I did was work a part-time job at a Mexican restaurant. There I met someone that would have a great impact on my language skills for the rest of my life. The funny thing was he was Puerto Rican, not Mexican. Rafael taught me what few people would do and that is to illustrate the slight differences in pronunciation between similar sounds in both English and Spanish. For example, the “de” in “de nada” is soft, more like the “th” in the words “they, the, this”. When you pronounce it like the hard sound in English as in the words “dog or David” then you speak with an accent. I never would have noticed if he hadn’t told me. Nevertheless, the point here is I looked for people. This is just one example.

There are other lessons I learned in Ohio about Spanish that I still could list off to you to this day. I will give you some ideas further down. I discovered an important key to finding the right people and situations to improve my language proficiency, not all are equal. The main thing you are looking to do when seeking out Spanish speakers is to make friends with natives, even if they are just acquaintances. The ideal person is the one that wants to help you, who has patience and better yet if they can explain grammar and why things are said the way they are.

Celebrate every new word, every time you understand when a native speaks to you or a new phrase.  Learning 10 new words, 50 a 100 is still more than you knew before. You start with words and some phrases, just words and phrases. Later you learn how to use verbs, the action words that act like glue to make the other words stick together which turn into sentences. You get better at making those sentences and you get better at understanding them being spoken to you as time goes on and then BOOM- you are very effective at communicating in Spanish.

I promise you there are native Spanish speakers somewhere in your area. You do NOT have to travel to another country to learn Spanish.  This brief list gives you a variety because I know that not all are possible for everyone.

List of Places to Find Native Spanish Speakers in Your Area

  • Spanish church: the service itself is good to learn from but the more important part is making friends before and after.
  • Family owned Latin American restaurants or cafes (Mexican, Dominican, Venezuelan, Colombian, Puerto Rican, etc.): the non-chain places are more likely to have native speakers working the whole restaurant, from hostess to server. I frequented a place and learned a lot just by creating conversation. Visit when it’s not busy.
  • Latin American Supermarkets or Convenience Stores: Not only learn the different names of foods from the signs but everyone usually is either native or second generation who speak it fluently. Even the ones here in the US remind me very much of the ones in Venezuela. See how more closely knit everyone is. All the customers and employees know each other.
  • Dance Classes (salsa, merengue): want to spice things up and have some fun? Learn how different dancing and music mean to Latin Americans and make some friends along the way.
  • Spanish tutors: you don’t need to drop a ton of money on a zillion lessons but just a few can help and again you can make friends with them and their friends. Latin Americans are very social people and often build a big circle of friends. You can find the tutors nowadays much more easily with the use of the internet. I found a tutor through my mom’s school where she taught and learned a lot just the few visits I went.
  • Universities: some students plan parties, festivals and other events. Sometimes native speakers are official tutors at the university for other students.
  • Latin American Festivals: great food, music and lots of people to meet. These are great opportunities for Latin Americans to meet each other especially in places where there aren’t many. There should be some that take place in your area.
  • Beauty Salons: Many Latin American women love to style hair and do nails and often start their own businesses.
  • Neighbors: Often there is someone in your neighborhood that’s a native speaker, even if just one. And people know people.
  • Farmers Markets and Flea Markets: This is a great place for Latin Americans to make some money while sharing their culture, plus a tasty way for you to experience it too.

You all will encounter obstacles while traveling down your Spanish journey. You will say things like, “I’m too busy”, “I’ve got kids”, “I don’t know any Spanish so how can I practice, where do I begin”, and others.  It can be hard, but you can find ways. Please, please, please do not feel like you have to be on a schedule to learn, that you need hours and hours of time every week to learn because you don’t.

Don’t stop after the first few attempts to find people to practice with. It took me a few attempts before having success. But again, if you live in an area where there are not many Spanish speakers do not let this discourage you, seek them out, they are there.