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   Taking a Taxi In Spanish

      Basic Spanish phrases to help you get to your destination 

 

For many of us living abroad in Mexico, taking a taxi is a convenient way to get around or get things done. The challenge is trying to communicate in Spanish with your taxi driver to explain where to turn, stop, or to keep going!

This article will give you some key phrases and some insight into how taxi drivers think and the questions they are going to ask while trying to understand where you are heading.

Whether you have too many groceries to carry, your on your way to an appointment on the other side of town, or your car is in the shop for a few days, these handy phrases will help you to communicate in Spanish with your driver to explain how to arrive at your destination or doorstep without charades. ¡Vámonos! Mexico!

Taxi Spanish Essentials for Beginners

If you don’t yet have a foundation of Spanish, learning these key words can help you to get your message across. I’ve broken down each of these words and phrases into English friendly phonetics that you can use to sound them out. 

To get started, these are the phrases you should learn first:

English Spanish Sound it out (bold = stressed syllable)
To the right A la derecha  ah-la day-ray-cha
To the left A la izquierda ah-la ihs-key-air-dah
Here Aquí ah-key
Further ahead Más adelante mass ah-dah-lan-tay

When we think about living abroad in Mexico, it really requires us to hit the ground running with our Spanish but taking everal months to fully learn the basics isn’t always a reality. When working with new Spanish students, my top priority is getting people to be functional as quickly as possible. Learn more about our Spanish from Zero Course here

Taking a Taxi to Your House

In Mexico, a neighborhood is known as a ‘colonia’ (colony) and it can be helpful to know which colonia you are going to as well as other colonias or landmarks that are nearby because the driver might reference other colonias that are nearby to confirm you are heading to the correct place. 

Normally, el taxista (taxi driver) will ask you where you are going. You might hear:

English Spanish Sound it out
Where are you going? ¿A dónde va? ah doan-day bah
Where am I taking you? (female passenger) ¿A dónde la llevo?  ah doan-day lah yay-bo
Where am I taking you? (male passenger) ¿A dónde lo llevo?  ah doan-day low yay-bo

You can respond with:

  • “Hola. Buenas tardes. Voy a la colonia _____.”
  • Hello. Good afternoon. I am going to the colonia_____.

The taxi driver may want to know which street you are going to. In which case you might hear and use these phrases:

English Spanish Sound it out
To what street? ¿A qué calle? ah kay k-eye-eh
To ____ street. A calle _____. ah k-eye-eh ____.
To ____ avenue. A avenida ____.  ah av-en-ee-dah ____.

Using Landmarks as a Reference for the Taxi Driver

It is important to keep in mind that taxi drivers don’t always use Google maps and they may not know the specific name of the business, restaurant or place you want to go.

To be prepared for your trip, figure out what neighborhood you are going to, know the name of the street, and try to find a landmark that is in the area. It could be a supermarket, a church, a park, a bank or market.

To explain where your destination is clearly in reference to the landmark you can use these helpful words:

English Spanish Sound it out
I’m going to…. Voy a ….  boy ah
the neighborhood   (colony) la colonia la ko-low-knee-ah
It is   (referring to location) está eh-sta
close to cerca de ser-ka day
across from enfrente de en-fren-tay day
behind atrás de ah-trass day
beside al lado de al lah-doe day

Some examples:

  • Está cerca de la colonia Los Sauces
  • It’s close to la colonia Los Sauces

  • Está al lado de la iglesia (ee-glay-see-ah)
  • It’s beside the church

  • Está atrás del Walmart cerca de la marina
  • It’s behind the Walmart close to the marina

Remember: In Spanish when we have the words A + EL (becomes AL) or DE + DEL (becomes DEL), we need to use the contraction. If you are unfamiliar with that, check out our video lesson explaining this concept here. 

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Asking to Go to a General Location

Sometimes you just need to go to a specific type of business or store to shop for groceries, take out cash, or pick something up from the pharmacy. Here are a list of common locations or places you might need to go to:

English Spanish Sound it out
I need to go… Necesito ir… nes-seh-see-toe ear
I’m going to…. Voy a ….  boy ah
to an ATM a un cajero ah oon kah-hair-oh
to the supermarket al supermercado al soo-per-mehr-kah-doe
to the waterfront walkway al malecón al mah-lay-kon
to the pharmacy a la farmacia a la far-mah-see-ah
to (the) center (downtown) al centro al sen-tro

Some examples:

  • Necesito ir a un cajero
  • I need to go to an ATM

  • Voy al malecón
  • I am going to the malecón

Approaching to Your Destination

As you get closer to your destination, it’s often necessary to give more specific directions to arrive precisely where you are going. Although we can achieve this with hand gestures using words to communicate this last part is easier and safer. Afterall, we want the eyes of the driver on the road, not looking at us in the rearview mirror….

Let’s start with these verbs that instruct the driver what they need to do:

English Spanish Sound it out
turn gire here-eh
keep going siga (see-gah)
wait espere esp-pear-eh

These words will help us to instruct the taxi driver in Spanish to where to turn, to keep going, or that we have arrived to our destination:

English Spanish Sound it out
next siguiente see-ghee-en-tay
block cuadra kwah-drah
corner esquina eh-ski-nah
street calle k-eye-yay
on the next street en la siguiente calle en la see-ghee-en-tay k-eye-yay
further ahead más adelante mass add-del-an-tay
to the right a la derecha ah la day-ray-cha
to the left a la izquierda ah la ihs-key-air-dah
here aquí ah-key

Some examples:

  • Gire a la derecha en la siguiente calle
  • Turn to the right on the next street.

  • Está más adelante.
  • It’s further ahead.

Get Practicing Your Taxi Spanish!

Action step: Write down 3 or 4 phrases that you will definitely use the next time you catch a taxi. Put the phrases in your wallet so they are handy and challenge yourself to use a couple of them during the cab ride.

Learning to use Spanish with confidence takes time and practice. Be proud of your efforts when you try to use something new and gentle with yourself when you make a mistake. With time, the right attitude, and practice, you will get this language!

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How to Go from Zero to Function Fast in Spanish

If you start focusing on the Spanish that is highly relevant to day-to-day life in Mexico you will start making progress where you need it the most!

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