Spanish <-> English Vocabulary


‘ll’ or ‘y’ is pronounced ‘zh,’ or as an English ‘j’
‘qu’ sounds like the ‘c’ in ‘cat’
‘z’ is pronounced like ’s’
‘j’ is a hard, throaty ‘h’ sound

Social courtesy

bailar to dance
Querés bailar? Do you want to dance?
Sí, gracias. Yes, thank you.
Uno más? One more?
Cómo no. Yes, please.

(literally “How not?”)

Por favor. Please.
yo I
vos you
él he
ella she

Verbs and Actions

parar, pararse to stop, to stand (up)
derecho straight
caminar to walk
abrir to open
juntar to join, bring together

(as in, one’s feet

or knees)

marcar to lead
(la marca) (the lead)
llevar to lead, also to carry
guiar to guide, also to lead
seguir to follow
escuchar to listen
mirar to look
fijarse to pay close

attention to

preguntar to ask
Una pregunta

por favor

A question, please
una vez más one more time


el compás the beat
el ritmo the rhythm
despacio, lento slow/slowly
rápido fast
doble tiempo double time
pasos steps

Body Parts

el cuerpo body
el eje axis (usually

refers to balance)

el peso weight
los dedos toes, fingers
el pie/los pies foot/feet
las piernas legs
las rodillas knees
la cintura waist
los brazos arms
el pecho chest
el abrazo embrace (as in,

dance hold)

Dance Floor

paso a step
pisar to step
piso floor
pista dance floor


adelante forward
atrás backward
al costado to the side
izquierda left
derecha right
derecho straight

Steps & Embellishments

cruzar (cruze) to cross (the cross)
ocho a figure “eight”
giro a turn
salida a basic walking pattern
corrida a run
sacada a displacement of the feet
boleo (no translation)
parada a stop, often a “sandwich”
barrida a sweep
arrastre a drag
llevada a “carry”
enrosque a twist
lapiz a pencil
amague a fake
gancho a hook
rulo a curl
patada a kick
adornos embellishments

Tangos & Milongas

vals Waltz (Argentine waltz)
milonga The name of a peppy, cheerful dance related to the tango the music for that dance a dance hall where tangos, milongas, and waltzes are danced.


Person who frequents the milongas. their lifestyle or a particular style of dancing.
canyengue An older style of tango.
orillero Another older style of tango; literally “from the orilla”, the outskirts of town or the curbside.
Salon A style of tango from the 1940s.
Fantasia Fantasy or stage tango.