Spanish is the official and dominant language of El Salvador. Because Spanish was introduced so long ago to Central America, the Spanish spoken there has its own variants and idioms, some regional and others particular to each country. Many Nahuat words are used in Salvadoran Spanish. The language also tends to be somewhat formal. People often use titles such as señor and señora to precede names. When entering a shop or café, Salvadorans commonly speak a general, polite greeting to everyone in the room.

Watching a group of Salvadorans speaking together is a feast for the eyes. Body language, hand gestures, loud voices and enthusiasm give life to the encounter. Greeting by shaking hands and saying buenos días or buenas tardes is customary. Saladorans are very social: getting together with family and friends is a favourite activity. Dropping in without making prior arrangements is acceptable and welcomed, although the use of telephones is changing this behaviour.

Of the languages spoken before Spanish colonization, only Nahuat, the language of the Pipil people, is still used in a few villages. Some well-educated Salvadorans and people who have worked either in the United States or in tourist industries may also speak English. Other Salvadorans know English words from popular music, advertising and television.

English Spanish
Hello Hola
Please Por favor
Thank you Gracias
You’re welcome De nada
Good morning Buenos días
Good evening Buenos noches

  Did you know?
The government, in cooperation with the University of El Salvador, recently established a school devoted to the preservation of the indigenous languages.