1. Arriving at a restaurant

There are generally no hosts or hostesses in Spain, which is why there is no word to differentiate them from waiters or waitresses. No busboys either. “Camarero/a“, depending on gender, is what you call your server. If you have no idea a table is feminine and a fork is masculine in Spanish, read the grammar point on the topic before continuing. Then come back to learn that while the concept of a host or hostess doesn’t generally exist in Spain, it’s still a good idea to wait to be seated.


One of the waiters (camareros) will eventually ask:

Buenos días / Buenas tardes, ¿cuántos son?


Good day / Good evening. How many are you [plural, formal]?

You could reply:

¿Hablas inglés?


But if your greeter had spoken English, he or she probably would have welcomed you with, “Hello. How many are you?” the “-h” closer to the “-ch” in Loch Ness than the one in help.


Somos dos, tres, cuatro…


… is the correct response in Spanish when asked “¿Cuántos son?” Make sure you write that down and repeat it, as “Somos” [pronounced: so-mOs], plus a number, is the first sentence you’ll speak at a restaurant.

Traducción literal: “We are two, three, four…”

Traducción correcta: Party of two, three, four…”


If the place is busy, you can ask…

¿Hay una mesa libre?


Is there a table available?


El camarero will either answer…

“No hay por ahora.”


There isn’t right now

“Sí, hay. Síganme.”


Yes there is. Follow me.


Meet the three “be’s” of Spanish:


ser, estar
& haber

The topic is discussed more in-depth here. Don’t jump ahead yet, however. Here is the first rule.

Ser is used for origin

  • Soy de Estados Unidos, Inglaterra…
  • El marisco es de Galicia.
  • Las leches y los quesos son de Asturias.

Estar is for current location

  • Estoy en España este mes.
  • Estamos en un restaurante.
  • Están de vacaciones.

is the verb “to be” depersonalized.

Míralo aquí

  • hay (there is/are)
  • había; hubo (there was/were)
  • habrá (there will be)
  • habría (there would be)
  • ha habido (there has/have been)
  • había habido (there had been)
  • habría habido (there would have been)


Take the time to write down the first formhay” [pronounced: eye]. It will come in handy in many situations as you will see in the upcoming lessons.



… is also the basis for the quintessential Spanish expression:


Es lo que hay


“It is what it is”.



Sugerencia de Paco. Antes de leer la próxima lección: “How to order a meal“, pasa algunos minutos con el apartado de la gramática que explica más sobre ser, estar y haber. Memoriza sus conjugaciones e intenta comprender sus diferencias. Los tres verbos aparecerán en otras lecciones que te ayudarán a ver cuándo usar uno o el otro.


A suggestion from Paco. Before reading the next lesson…, spend a few moments with the grammar point which further explains: ser, estar & haber. Memorize their conjugations and try to grasp their differences. The three verbs will appear in other lessons which will help you see when to use one or the other.


See if you understand the lesson with this quick quiz.


themed lesson 3

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