Short Cuts for Learning Spanish

Exploring and Living in Cuba

  • Register
  • aguaje — a downpour
  • asere— friend
  • babujal — an evil spirit
  • bici — bicycle
  • bohío — hut built of wood and palm leaves
  • bucha — a despicable person
  • caballería — old Spanish system for measuring land
  • carjal — a lot of money
  • carranchoso — rough
  • coger botella or hacer botella — hitch hiking.
  • espejuelos —  glasses
  • fiñe  — child
  • gomas  — tires
  • guagua (wah-wah) — bus
  • guajiro  —a country person
  • gusano  — an unpatriotic person
  • jama — food
  • jinetero/a  — gold digger or street hustler
  • mangonear— to manipulate
  • máquinas—  old cars used for taxis
  • menudo  — change(coins)
  • mima — mom
  • paluchero — a charlatan
  • pavana  — a beating
  • pepe — a foreigner

           If you wish to learn Cuban phrases, we suggest you buy any of the Cuban phrase books we list below.  They are packed with hundreds of words and expressions peculiar to Cuba.  You can get a head start on learning Cuban Spanish by studying these books.  The downside is that the first three books are written in Spanish.  Unless you are an advanced Spanish student you probably won’t understand the phrases and words they contain. 

The Official Guide to Cuban Spanish, by Christopher Howard is the only book that has all of the Cuban slang in English. If you want to learn to speak Spanish like a Cuban or live in Cuba, then this is the only book you will need. See  or to order this handy guidebook.

 These two books are full of Cuban idioms but offer no English translation.

  •  Así Hablaba Cuba, by Luis Pérez López excolumnist for Miami's El Nuevo Herald. This guide has over 3,000 Cuban expressions. To order write: P.O. Box 720354, Miami, Fl 33172 or call (305) 226- 8776 or Fax: (305) 226-8709.
  •  Diccionario de Cubanismos Más Usuales, by José Sánchez-Boudy is a series of volumes packed full of idioms and slang.
  •  Diccionario de Español de Cuba, by Maria Alina Hernandez Rensoli and Fernando Martinez Valdes is packed with Cuban Spanish.
  •  Diccionario de Piropos Poplares Cubanos, also by José Sánchez Boudy is full of humorous and flirtatious Cuban expressions.

 Here are a few other good DVD packages you can find in most bookstores:

  •  Rosetta Stone. Probably the best course of them all. See
  •  Spanish at a Glance, by Barron’s Publications. 113 Crossway Park Dr. Woodbury, NY 11797.

         Below is a list of the best books available to help you learn Spanish.  Most can be purchased or ordered from any bookstore.

  •  Barron’s Basic Spanish Grammar, by Christopher Kendris. An in-depth study of Spanish grammar for serious students.
  •  Barron’s Spanish Idioms by Eugene Savaia and Lynn W. Winget. This book has more than 2,000 idiomatic words and expressions.
  •  Barron’s 1001 Pitfalls in Spanish. by Julianne Dueber.  This guide points to the most common errors students make and shows how to correct them.
  •  Barron’s Spanish Vocabulary, also by Julianne Dueber.  A good book for building vocabulary. 
  •  Dictionary of Spoken Spanish Words, Phrases and Sentences.  Dover Publications Inc., New York, NY. ISBN 0-486-20495-2.  This is the best of all phrase dictionaries.  It contains over 18,000 immediately useable sentences and idioms. We recommend it highly.
  •  Guide to Spanish Idioms, by Raymond H. Pierson. Passport Books, 4255 West Touchy Ave, Chicago, Illinos, 60646.   Contains over 2,500 expressions to help you speak like a native.
  •  Just Enough Business Spanish, Passport Books.  Full of phrases to help the businessman.
  •  Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish    Dell Publishing Group , 666 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10103.  Provides an easy method of learning Spanish based on the many similarities between Spanish and English. This book is a "must" for the beginner.
  •  Nice n’ Easy Spanish Grammar, by Sandra Truscott. Passport Books.  Basic grammar.
  •  Talking Business in Spanish, by Bruce Fryer and Hugo J. Faria.  Barron’s Educational Series.  Has over 3,000 business terms and phrases.  A must for any person planning to do business in the Spanish speaking world.
  •  A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish, by John Butt and Carmen Benjamin.  NTC Publishing Group.  This one of the best reference books ever written in Spanish grammar.  It is very easy to use and understand.
  •  Cassell's Colloquial Spanish, by A. Byron Gerrard.  Macmillam.  The book is full of useful information.
  • Hot Spanish for Guys and Gals, Babel Com, Inc., New York, NY.  Spanish phrases that will help both sexes with their love life.
  •  Spanish for Gringos, by William C. Harvey.   Barron's Press.  This is an amazing book that will help you improve your Spanish.
  •  Household Spanish, by William C. Harvey.  Barron's Press.  A user-friendly book especially for English-speakers who need to communicate with Spanish-speaking employees.
  •  Latin-American Spanish Dictionary, by David Gold.  Ballantine Books.  A good dictionary of Spanish used in Latin America.
  •  The New World English/Spanish Dictionary, by Salvatore Ramondino. A Signet Book.  Another excellent dictionary of Latin American Spanish.
  •  Webster's New World Spanish Dictionary, by Mike Gonzalez.  Prentice Hall.  Also covers Latin American useage.

Official Guide to
Cuban Spanish

Official Guide to Cuban Spanish

For those who want to communicate with the locals and to develop basic Spanish survival skills, purchase our one-of-a-kind eBook which includes Cuban slang in English


"I always keep this book on my tablet so that I can maneuver through Cuba’s linguistic maze."

Max Gómez, Cuba Scout, Travel Expert

Medal Award

Not ready to relocate to Cuba yet,
then check out 
Costa Rica Latin America’s #1
retirement haven


Living and Investing in Cuba - Live in Cuba - Retire in Cuba - Retirement Tours in Cuba 

Information herein is authorized through the courtesy of Christopher Howard, author of the best selling Cuba information source, Living and Investing in the New Cuba. Please be aware that all information herein is protected by COPYRIGHT © and misuse of it will carry a penalty by law.