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Basque Language Basics: 42 Useful Phrases For Beginners And Travelers

Basque Language Basics: 42 Useful Phrases For Beginners And Travelers

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Basque is a language spoken in the Basque Country and neighboring regions of Spain and France. It is the only surviving pre-Indo-European language in Europe, and thus has been called “the last remnant of the Stone Age”.

If you’re considering visiting the beautiful region where Basque is spoken, or even if you’re just curious about the language, it might be handy to learn some useful, frequently used Basque phrases.

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Okay, so almost all people in the Basque Country are bilingual in Spanish or French, and most of them will be more than happy to switch to either language if they notice you’re struggling with Basque.

However, learning at least some basics will not only help you get by, but you’ll also endear yourself to the locals and make your trip that much more memorable.

In this article, you’ll find 42 commonly-used Basque words and phrases that all beginners and travelers should know. We’ve split them up into categories so you’ll be able to focus on what’s most important to you.

A note before you start:

We haven’t included greetings here because we have a separate post devoted entirely to them: Greetings and Salutations in Basque.

LH Pleasantries

Pleasantries

This section mostly deals with words and phrases that you say to people out of politeness or when celebrating something.

How do you say “please” in Basque?

The word for “please” is “mesedez“.

How do you say “thank you” in Basque?

There are a couple of ways to give thanks in Basque. The first and most common is “eskerrik asko”. You can also use “esker mila”, which means “a thousand thanks”.

How do you say “excuse me / sorry” in Basque?

The word for “excuse me” and “sorry” is the same in Basque: “barkatu”.

How do you say “congratulations!” in Basque?

To say “congratulations”, you use “zorionak!”.

How do you say “good luck” in Basque?

If you want to wish someone luck, you say “zorte on”.

How do you say “happy birthday” in Basque?

There’s no special way of wishing someone a happy birthday in Basque. For the most part, you’ll hear people simply use “zorionak!” (congratulations). Another way to say this is “urte askoan!”, which means “for many years”, or “may you live to see many years of birthdays”.

How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Basque?

Saying “Merry/Happy Christmas” is “Eguberri on!”

How do you say “Happy New Year” in Basque?

If you want to wish someone a happy new year, you’d say “Urte berri on!

How do you say “I love you” in Basque?

Telling someone you love them is “maite zaitut”.


LH Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

This section contains some of the most commonly-asked questions in Basque, along with their answers.

What is “yes” in Basque?

To say “yes”, you’d use “bai”.

What is “no” in Basque?

To say “no”, you’d use “ez”. This is also used for the word “not”.

How do you say “how?” in Basque?

There are a couple of ways to ask “how” in Basque, depending on what is being spoken about. The first is “nola?” The second is with “zelan?”

How do you say “why?” in Basque?

To ask the question “why?”, you’d use “zergatik?

How do you say “who?” in Basque?

“Who?” in Basque is said in two ways: “nor?” and “nork?”

How do you say “when?” in Basque?

If you want to say “when?”, you use “noiz?”

How do you say “where?” in Basque?

Saying “where?” can be done in three different ways, depending on the subject. You’ll see “non?” most often, but “nora?” and “nongo?” are also used.

How do you say “what?” in Basque?

To say “what?” you’d use “zer?”

How to say “what’s your name?” in Basque?

To ask someone their name, you would use, “Nola duzu izena?”

How to say “my name is” in Basque?

If someone asks you your name, you would answer as follows: “Nire izena __ da.” Fill in the space with your name.

How to say “how much is this?” in Basque?

If you’re in a store and you want to know how much something costs, you would ask, “Zenbat balio du?”

How to say “where am I?” in Basque?

If you’re lost and need to know where you are, you could ask someone “Non nago?”

How to say “where is/are?” in Basque?

You might find that you need to get to a particular place in the Basque Country but you have no idea where it is, or maybe you’ve lost an object. In which case you’d say, “Non dago __ ?” (for a singular item), or “Non daude __ ?” (for plural).

How to say “how do I get to?” in Basque?

You can ask a stranger how you can get to a certain place by using, “__. Nola iristen naiz?”

How to say “can you repeat that please?” in Basque?

If you need someone to repeat a word or phrase, simply say “Errepikatu, mesedez.

How to say “do you speak English?” in Basque?

To ask someone if they speak English, you’d say “Ingelesez hitz egiten al duzu?”

How to say “I don’t speak Basque” in Basque?

To tell someone you don’t speak Basque, you’d use “Ez dut euskaraz hitz egiten”.

How to say “do you speak Basque?” in Basque?

To ask someone if they speak Basque, you’d say “Euskaraz hitz egiten al duzu?”


LH Feelings

Feelings

In this section, you’ll find some words and phrases that are useful for describing how you’re feeling, your state of mind, etc.

How do you say “I like it” in Basque?

Saying you like something is “Gogoko dut”.

How do you say “I don’t like” in Basque?

There are a couple of ways to say you don’t like a particular thing in Basque; they’re used interchangeably.

“__ ez zait gustatzen” or “__ ez dut atsegin”, filling in the blank space with whatever it is you don’t like.

How do you say “I would like” in Basque?

Maybe you’re ordering something at a restaurant. In which case you’d tell the waiter, “__ nahiko nuke”.

How do you say “I don’t understand” in Basque?

You’ll probably need to use this one often if you’re new to Basque. Say “Ez dut ulertzen” if you don’t understand something someone’s said to you. Get them to repeat it using the phrase you learned earlier.

How do you say “I don’t know” in Basque?

To say that you don’t know something, you’ll use “Ez dakit”.

How do you say “I’m happy” in Basque?

To say that you’re happy, it’s “Pozik nago”.

How do you say “I’m hot” in Basque?

To say that you’re hot, use “Bero nago”.

How do you say “I’m cold” in Basque?

To say that you’re cold, say “Hotz nago”.

How do you say “I’m hungry” in Basque?

To say you’re hungry, use “Gose naiz”.

How do you say “I’m thirsty” in Basque?

To say you’re thirsty, use “Egarri naiz”.

How do you say “I’m tired” in Basque?

If you want to say that you’re tired, use “Nekatuta nago”.

How do you say “I’m lost” in Basque?

To say that you’re lost (as in, you don’t know where you are), use “Galduta nago”.

How to say “help!” in Basque?

The word for “help” (as an exclamation) is “Lagundu!”

How to say “stop!” in Basque?

The word for “stop” (as an exclamation) is “Geldi!”


Wrapping things up

Now you know some basics of the Basque language! Armed with these phrases, you’ll be able to get around the Basque Country and interact with people on an elementary level.

You might not think that learning even this small amount of Basque will be useful, but you’ll be surprised at how many people will appreciate your efforts.

Practice makes perfect, so try using these phrases as often as you can. With time and exposure, you’ll gradually start to pick up more vocabulary and be able to hold conversations with ease.

If you want to learn some more vocabulary, check out our posts Numbers and Counting in Basque and Body Parts and Clothes in Basque.