Tijuana, Mexico City, Oaxaca, it doesn’t matter where I am, my GPS never fails to lead me in circles, taking me everywhere except my destination. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does it’s really frustrating. But those experiences led me to a rather interesting epiphany.
Absolutely no one teaches you any Spanish related to using a GPS.
Today I’m going to bring an end to that injustice and share with you some GPS related Spanish and vocabulary you should know, including how to ask for help so you can get to your destination sano y salvo (safe and sound).
Let’s start with the basics.
First things first, you have to poner (turn on or use your GPS.
No sé llegar, es mejor poner el gps y te lleva directo.
I don’t know how to get there, it’s better to use the GPS and it’ll take you straight there.
Pongo el GPS y aún así me pierdo.
I use the GPS and I still get lost.
To get to your destination you have to put in the address, “Poner la dirección”.
Pon la dirección del restaurante.
Put in the address of the restaurant.
Siempre pongo el GPS para encontrar el camino más corto.
I always turn on the GPS to find the shortest route.
¿Pusiste la dirección que te dieron en el GPS?
Did you put the address they gave you in the GPS?
Si no sabes llegar, pon la dirección en el GPS.
If you don’t know how to get there, put the address in the GPS.
Puse la dirección mal.
I put the address in wrong.
And just like in English, your GPS “takes” you places, so we’ll need the verb Llevar.
Pon la dirección en el gps y te lleva directo.
Put the address in the gps and it’ll take you straight there.
El GPS siempre me lleva por la ruta más rápida, evitando atascos de tráfico y peajes.
The GPS always takes me the fastest route, avoiding traffic jams and tolls.
A veces pongo una dirección en el GPS y me lleva al lugar equivocado.
Sometimes I put an address in the GPS and it takes me to the wrong place.
At some point you’ll want to tell some how long it will be before you get there. For that we’ll need the verb Estar.
El GPS dice que estoy a 5 minutos de llegar.
The GPS says I’ll be there in 5 minutes.
Estamos a tres minutos del hotel.
According to the GPS, we’re three minutes from the hotel.
Según el GPS, estamos a pocas cuadras.
According to the GPS, we’re just a few blocks away.
Finally, here’s some Spanish to help you out when your GPS just isn’t getting you to your destination.
I’ve lost count (perdí la cuenta) of how many times I’ve seen the GPS tell me:
If i had any hair, I’d pull it out. But that aside, now let’s talk about some Spanish you can use to get you back on track and to your destination.
You’re going to need to ask for help, so let’s look at a couple of ways to do that. And always remember to say hi first. While in the US it’s no big deal to walk up to someone and say “Hey can you help me out?”, it’s generally considered rude to do that in Latin America.
Hola, ¿Qué tal? Estoy perdido, ¿me puede ayudar?
Hi, how it’s going? I’m lost, can you help me?
Hola, disculpe. ¿Me puede ayudar? Ando un poco perdido.
Hi, excuse me. Can you help me? I’m a little lost.
Buenas días. Disculpe, ¿Me ayudas encontrar esta dirección? El GPS no me está guiando bien.
Excuse me, can you help me find this address? The GPS isn’t giving me good directions.
There are plenty of variations on how to ask for help, but those three options are just fine.
Ok, let’s keep going. Now that you’ve politely asked for help, you can start to explain the problem.
I always like to say where it is I’m trying to get to first. For example:
Estoy buscando el Museo de Oro.
I’m looking for the Gold Museum.
Next I start talking about how my GPS isn’t helping. Here are various ways you can say your GPS isn’t getting you to your destination, choose the one that best fits your situation.
El GPS me está llevando por la ruta incorrecta.
The GPS is taking me the wrong way.
Mi GPS me tiene dando vueltas.
My GPS has me going in circles.
El GPS me llevó a la ubicación equivocada.
The GPS took me to the wrong place.
Now you’re armed with small set of Spanish phrases for your GPS to help you get to where you’re going.
And before I forget, let’s translate the title of this post.
Siga recto por favor.
Keep straight please.
To wrap things up, we looked at the verbs Poner, Llevar and Estar in the context of using them with your GPS. I probably don’t have to tell you these verbs have many more uses in everyday conversational Spanish, but what might surprise you is that they have many more uses than you’re likely aware of.
It never fails, when I’m teaching a Spanish class students are surprised to learn a new use of a verb they thought they had a good handle on. Did you know Estar and Llevar each have a minimum of 11 different uses, and Poner has at least 10?
If you really want to up your Spanish game and get closer to true fluency, I recommend listening to my free podcasts on these verbs. The podcasts are part of my All About Spanish verbs podcast series, which teaches you the most common uses of the most common Spanish verbs.
And that’s it!
I hope you found this mini lesson on Spanish for your GPS useful and it makes your life easier as you use your GPS to guide on your travels, here in Gringolandia (the) USA or in Latin America.