Catalan: Vocabulary and Useful Expressions (1/3)

The official language of the Balearics is Catalan (català), of which mallorquí is dialect. Though every Spanish native on the island will speak Castilian Spanish, Catalan is the mother tongue of the majority. It was banned under Franco, and for many is a badge of pride, identity and independence. You might find that some locals will prefer to speak to you in English rahter than Castilian. Most of the road signs, street names, etc, that you’ll see on the island will be written in Catalan.


There are differences between the Catalan spoken in the Balearics and that of the Barcelona region (one of the more obvious is the use of the articles es, sa, ses rather than el, la, els, les), but most of them are fairly minor. The information given below is standard Catalan. The most interesting linguistic quirk is the appearance of corrupted an anglicisms in menorquí, dating from the period of British occupation in the 18th century.

English is widely spoken in holiday areas and on the coast but less so in the interior, where if you take an interest and learn a few phrases, it is likely to be appreciated.

Useful expressions

hello hola; goodbye adéu; hello (when answering the phone) hola, digui’m

good morning, good day bon dia; good afternoon, good evening bona tarda; good night bona nit

please si us plau

very good/great/OK molt bé

thank you (very much) (moltes) gràcies; you’re welcome de res

Do you speak English? Parla anglés?; I’m sorry, I don’t speak Catalan Ho sento, no parlo català; I don’t understand No entenc; Can you say it to me in Spanish, please? M’ho pot dir en castellà, si us plau?

What’s your name? Com se diu?

Sir/Mr senyor (sr); Madam/Mrs senyora (sra); Miss senyoreta (srta)

excuse me/sorry perdoni/disculpi; excuse me, please escolti (literally ‘listen to me’)

OK/fine val/d’acord

How much is it? Quant és?

Why? Perqué?; When? Quan?; Who? Qui?; What? Qué?; Where? On?; How? Com?; Where is …? On és …?; Who is it? Qui és?; Is/are there any …? Hi ha …?/N’hi ha de …?

very molt; and i; or o; with amb; without sense; enough prou

I would like … Vull … (literally, ‘I want’); How many would you like? Quants en vol?; I don’t want No vull; I like M’agrada; I don’t like No m’agrada

good bo/bona; bad dolent/a; well/badly bé/malament; small petit/a; big gran; expensive car/a; cheap barat/a; hot (food, drink) calent/a; cold  fred/a

something alguna cosa; nothing res; more més; less menys; more or less més o menys

nothing at all/zilch res de res (said with both ‘s’s silent)

toilet el bany/els serveis/el lavabo

open obert; closed tancat

entrance entrada; exit sortida

price preu; free gratuit/de franc; change, exchange canvi

to rent llogar; (for) rent, rental (de) lloguer


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