How to sound more natural in Spanish

I’m pretty sure you want to sound more natural in Spanish. In fact, that´s most learners' end goal: to be fluent and sound natural in Spanish. However, many think of that as a long term goal, once they’ve mastered other parts of the language… 

But, let me tell you that there is really no need to wait. You can start sounding more natural today, whatever your level.

The secret is to incorporate fillers, “conversation helpers” or “muletillas”.

Fillers are called “muletillas” in Spanish… Literally, “little crutches!” I love this term as they indeed help with sounding more fluent and natural and give a sense of smoothness to the conversation.

I remember when Pete started learning Spanish and went to Madrid for the first time… He knew very little, but sounded like he knew so much more by being quite familiar with these 5 muletillas

Let’s take a look at them: 

1. Pues

  • This is a high frequency filler that will help you get started with your sentence and will also give you a couple of seconds to get your thoughts together. It is the equivalent of “well…” in English.
    • ¿Vienes al teatro mañana? (Are you coming to the theatre tomorrow?)
    • Pues… (Es que) ya tengo planes… (Well… I already have plans)

Top tip: Adding “es que” helps with excusing yourself politely or declining an offer. And… you will sound totally native!

2. Es que…

  • It could be the equivalent to “the thing is that…” This is a bit of an “all purpose” used filler to start answering a “why” or “why is…? question. Another hugely used little helper!
    • ¿Por qué estás tan cansado hoy? (Why are you so tired today?)
    • Es que me acosté muy tarde ayer.  (The thing is, I went to bed late last night)

3. Bueno...

Bueno literally is the word for “good”, but as a filler it is highly used in different contexts. It is a good starting point as it gives you a little bit of time to think. Generally, it can mean “well”, but it is widely used with other meanings too. Let's look at a couple:

  • To give you time to think (Well…)
    • ¿Vas mucho a España (Do you go to Spain a lot?)
    • Bueno normalmente dos o tres veces al año (Well, normally two or   three times a year)
  • A few “Buenos in a row” can be used to show surprise and admiration
    • Bueno, Bueno, Bueno… ¡estás espectacular! (Goodness me… you look spectacular!) 

4. A ver...

  • It means “let´s see” and it is generally used as a great filler to give you a bit of time to breathe and think. 
    • A ver… ¿qué podemos hacer?  (Let´s see… what can we do?)
  • It´s also used to explain yourself:
    • A ver… lo que quiero decir es que esta situación es injusta (Look… what I want to say is that this situation is unfair)

5. Vale...

  • Pronounced like /*Ba-lay/ You will hear this word every single day in Spain... And I would even dare to say that in pretty much every conversation! It’s the equivalent to OK
    • Me preparo y vamos a cenar, ¿vale? (I´ll get ready and then we go for dinner, ok?)
    • ¡Vale! (Ok!)

So, the best tip that I can give you is to start looking out for all these “muletillas” and observe how they are used. Soon you will be able to use them in the right context too!

Do you use any of these already? Have you heard any others? Get in touch and share your experiences, doubts or questions with us. We'd love to hear from you.

Happy learning,


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