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Spanish driving licence: the essential language to pass your practical test

Spanish driving licence: the essential language to pass your practical test
Photos: Jorge Guererro/AFP
Understanding what your driving instructor is saying to you in Spanish will be crucial if you want to pass your practical test. 

Getting a driving licence in Spain (sacarse el carné de conducir en España) can be a fairly challenging task for foreigners. 

There’s having to memorise Spain’s specific road laws, the big difference in prices between driving schools depending on where you are and, last but not least, understanding Spain’s driving lingo.

Although Spain’s Directorate General for Traffic (DGT) does offer the possibility of taking your theory exam in English, French and German, the practical driving exam has to be carried out in Spanish. 

There are some specialised driving schools (autoescuelas in Spanish) that have instructors who can offer practical lessons in English, but when it comes to actually sitting at the wheel with the DGT examiner in the back seat, it’s almost certainly all going to be in Spanish. 

With this in mind, we’re going to revise the most common instructions that you’re likely to receive from your driving instructor while you’re practising driving, and during your final examen práctico with the examiner.

To keep it as real as possible, all the Spanish verbs we’ll use will be in the imperative form, as that’s what you’re most likely to hear from your instructor. 

We’ve mixed up these with the useful vocab you’re likely to hear to put it all in context, so pay special attention to each part of the sentence.

The basics

Acelera : Speed up

Frena : Brake 

Reduce la velocidad : Reduce your speed

Detente/Para : Stop

Pisa el embrague : Step on the clutch 

Important extras

Ponte el cinturón (de seguridad) : Put on your seatbelt

Asegúrate que tienes bien colocados los retrovisores : Make sure your rearview mirrors are correctly positioned

Getting going

Arranca el coche : turn on the car

Pon las luces cortas/largas : Put on your headlights/brights

Pon el intermitente : Put on your indicator

Gira el volante a la izquierda/derecha : Turn the steering wheel to the left/right

El semáforo está en verde/en rojo/en ámbar : The traffic light is green, red, yellow

Gears

Mete primera, segunda, tercera, cuarta, quinta marcha : Go into first, second, third, fourth, fifth gear

Mete la palanca de cambio en punto muerto : Put the gearbox in neutral

Parking 

Da marcha atrás : Reverse 

Pon las luces de emergencia : Put on your emergency lights

Aparca en batería, en línea o en paralelo : Park at an angle, in line, parallel park

Pon/Quita el freno de mano : Pull up/down the handbrake 

Turning and moving around

Circula por esta carretera de sentido único : Drive along this one-way road 

Cede el paso : Give way

Adelanta a la furgoneta : Overtake the van

Incorpórate a la autopista/la rotonda : Merge onto the motorway/roundabout 

Acuérdate que es una carretera de sentido único/dos sentidos : Remember it’s a one-way/two-way road 

Toma la primera/segunda/tercera salida : Take the first/second/third exit

Échale un vistazo al punto ciego : Check your blind spot 

Mira por el retrovisor : Look through the rearview mirror

Cambia de carril : Change lane

Métete por el carril de dentro/fuera : Take the inside/outside lane

Toma la siguiente salida : Take the next exit

Precautions

No superes el límite de velocidad : Don’t go over the speed limit

Ten cuidado con la curva : Be careful with the turn

Deja pasar al peatón en el paso de cebra : Let the pedestrian cross at the zebra crossing

Asegúrate que no vienen coches en el cruce : Make sure there’s no oncoming traffic at the crossing  

And a couple of extra ones

Toca el claxon/la bocina : Honk your horn

Pon el limpiaparabrisas : Put on the windshield wipers

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