In our quest to understand and be able to speak better Spanish, it is always a good idea to be familiar with as much theory as possible. Knowing how to conjugate verbs in the right tense, understanding the use of gender, pronouns, reflexive verbs, passive sentences, etc. really helps. But memorizing phrases will improve your Spanish too. After all, that is pretty much how we all learned to speak English.
Below are some phrases I think you will find very useful. I have tried to include phrases that are beyond the more common. Some use an infinitive verb to get the point across. These are good because you don't have to conjugate as often. Some make very little sense or none at all when translating them into English. These are sometimes interesting though because they show how a Spanish speaker would say something differently than we would say the same thing in English. Sometimes you can see the logic, sometimes you can't. If you can, you will find memorization easier. But sometimes you just have to memorize it.
For example, anyone learning Spanish will need to know how to say:
What does it (that) mean? ¿Qué quiere decir (eso)?
Literally, what does it want to say? Can you see how this can mean to 'mean' something?
You can also say ¿Qué significa? Or, ¿qué significa eso? With this phrase the logic is not so abstract. What is the significance (of it)?
Lets now look at some handy phrases that incorporate the infinitive verb. If you can memorize how a certain phrase starts out, all you need is the infinitive to get the point across. Try to see the logic behind how it is said differently than we would say it. Understanding the meaning of the verbs is key. If you are unfamiliar with a verb check your favorite reference.
To be about ready to do something:
I am about ready to go. - Estoy a punto de ir.
She is about ready to leave. - Está a punto de irse.
They are about ready to begin. Están a punto de empezar.
We are about ready to go out. Estamos a punto de salir.
You can also use 'estar por' and then the infinitive to mean the same thing.
I am about ready to go to bed. - Estoy por acostarme.
They are about ready to eat. - Están por comer.
Now here is how to say, 'to have just finished doing something':
I just finished eating. - Acabo de comer.
She just finished cooking. - Acaba de cocinar.
He just finished cleaning the house. - Acaba de limpiar la casa.
They just finished their work. - Acaban de terminar su trabajo.
We just finished breakfast. - Acabamos de desayunar.
Now look at how to say 'one must do something'. Or 'something needs to be done':
One must study to learn Spanish. - Hay que estudiar para aprender el español.
One must drive carefully. - Hay que manejar con cuidado.
The house needs to be cleaned. - Hay que limpiar la casa.
The grass needs to be watered. - Hay que regar el césped.
To feel like doing some action (not feeling an emotion or a condition):
I feel like eating. - Tengo ganas de comer.
Do you feel like reading? ¿Tiene(s) ganas de leer?
We feel like riding our bycycles. - Tenemos ganas de montar nuestras bicicletas.
I did not feel like playing golf yesterday. - No tenía ganas de jugar golf ayer.
If you want to indicate feeling an emotion or condition, you would say it this way, using the reflexive verb sentirse:
I feel sick. - Me siento mal or enfermo(a).
She feels sad. - Se siente triste.
They feel cheated. - Se sienten engañados.
We feel tired. - Nos sentimos cansados.
And here are a few more:
What is it about? - ¿De que se trata?
What was that about? ¿De que se trató eso?
It will take place at four pm. - Se llevará a cabo a las cuatro.
It takes place today. - Se lleva a cabo hoy.
It took place yesterday. Se llevó a cabo ayer.
What time is it going to take place? - ¿A qué hora va a llevarse a cabo?
Whatever happens, happens. - Pase lo que pase.
Is it worth it? - ¿Vale la pena?
Was it worth it? ¿Valió la pena?
I hope it is worth it. Espero que valga la pena.
That's the way it is. - Así es la vida.
As soon as possible. - Cuanto antes. Or, tan pronto como sea posible.
Do it as soon as possible. - Hágalo cuanto antes.
What does he, she do (for a living)? - ¿A qué se dedica?
Just in case..- Por si acaso. Or, por si las moscas.
It is not a big deal. - No es para tanto. Or, no es nada del otro mundo.
It's not important (to me). - No me importa.
As far as I know. - Que yo sepa.
Above all. - Sobre todo.
Keep in mind that the above are probably the most commonly said that way. Some can be said in different ways.
These handy phrases will improve your Spanish. There are many more. And the good thing is most are not that difficult to memorize. Especially if you can spot the logic as to why it is said that way. And as always, practice them in live conversation.
One last important phrase for you:
¡No se de por vencido!. Don't' give up!
Espero que esto les ayude!