If you want to take part in a Spanish conversation, you need to be brave and fast. Especially in a group, volumes tend to go up when people interrupt and talk on top of each other. Spanish conversations are usually so eventful that for a foreigner, it might feel difficult to get in. Bursts of laughter follow each other and the subject of the conversation changes before you have even had a chance to formulate and voice your comment to the previous topic.
Often the only way to get into the conversation is to turn up the volume of your own voice as well and just shoot your comment partially on top of others. In this blog post, we are going to tell you how you can use muletillas, Spanish filler words, to help you enter and end a Spanish conversation.
Muletillas are very culture-bound. This means that they vary a lot between the different areas of Spain and South America. The muletillas presented in this post are from Spain, but you can use most of them also when talking to Latin Americans.
tío / tía
The expression tío / tía, which literally means uncle or aunt, is used a lot in spoken Spanish by young Spaniards especially when wanting to start or interrupt a conversation. By repeating tío or tía to the people currently speaking, you can, in a way, ask for a turn to speak.
However, this expression is very informal, so please don’t use it when talking to a stranger, someone older or someone socially above you. Older people sometimes use the word hijo / hija when addressing younger people, even strangers on the street.
sí / no
Another way to get into a lively conversation is to keep repeating sí, sí, claro que sí or no, no, claro que no to comments and opinions thrown in the group. By saying sí, sí you express agreement while also opening a space for your own comment.
When starting to express your opinion or tell a story, you can use filler words like pues, bueno or a ver in the beginning of your comment. They are very common, and using them makes you sound more fluent and natural.
Expressions like ¿verdad? (right?), ¿sabes? (you know?), ¿ah que sí? (right?) or ¿entiendes? (you understand?) are often used at the end of a comment to seek approval or acknowledgement to the opinion just stated.
Other useful filler words and expressions in a Spanish conversation include:
es que = it’s that
entonces = then
o sea = so / which means
así que = so that
fíjate = think
mira = look
By throwing these expressions in the beginning or end of your comments, it’s more likely that your opinion will get heard and you will sound more natural than by getting directly to the point.
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