Once a student has decided to stay more than a week in Bogotá and starts having a routine in the city, more practical questions come to their mind. Understanding the way everyday commerce works gives you an advantage. Before going to a small market, you should know that you have three options to ask for a price in Spanish (at least in Colombia): ¿Cuánto cuesta? ¿Cuánto vale? ¿A cómo? We often use all of them because we are always looking for the best prices. When we go to markets or to a street where there are 10 or more shops that sell the same products, we visit them and ask for the price in every store. Keep reading to learn how to do Spanish shopping.
Also, when you shop in the supermarket or eat at a restaurant, you will be answering some questions that might be new for you. In the former case, when you decide to pay with a card, the cashier will ask you: “¿Débito o crédito?” which means: “Is it a debit or a credit card?” Then, depending on the supermarket, the cashier will ask you if you have a card to get points or if you have a special client status. You can answer no to this question or ask how you can get that special status in case you will be staying longer in Bogotá. Sometimes, a final question might be: “¿Desea donar 100 pesos para los niños de la Guajira?” which means: “Do you want to donate 100 pesos to help the kids in La Guajira?” Of course, it is up to you to say yes or no.
In a restaurant, there are some specific questions you will need to answer when you are paying too. Once you are ready to pay, the waiter will always ask you: “¿En efectivo o con tarjeta?” which means: “Cash or card?” If you decide to pay with a credit card, the waiter will ask you next: “¿débito o crédito?” which means: “debit or credit card?” If you pay with a credit card, the following question is: “¿Cuántas cuotas?” which means: “How many payments?” This is because here, when we buy something with a credit card, we divide it by the number of monthly installments we will pay. It is not common to pay all at once. Most non-Colombian credit cards don’t allow cuotas, so foreigners normally answer “una” (“one”) so that the charge is processed as a one-time payment. This is actually asked in most commercial places as well, whether they are restaurants, supermarkets, small crafstores, etc,
An important tip for Spanish shopping: Another question the waiter will ask is: “¿Desea incluir el servicio?” which means: “Do you want to include the tip?” In Colombia, the waiters have to ask you if you want to include a standard tip which is normally 10%. It is optional, so it is fine to answer no.
Now, check how much you remember about the meaning or use of these questions:
Audio to practice
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Written by Mari, profesora at Whee Social House.