The 20 most common Spanish filler words or “muletillas”

The 20 most common Spanish filler words or "muletillas"

The word “muletilla” in Spanish means “walking sticks,” probably because they help us during conversations.

These words or short phrases indicate pauses, fill gaps in speech or start sentences.

Filler words or “muletillas” exist in all languages; they help us speak more fluidly and sound more natural. In many cases, they also allow us to gain time to think and elaborate on what we will say.

These are handy words! Some are more formal than others, but in general, everyone uses them no matter their level of Spanish or their way of speaking.

To get a quick idea of what “muletillas” are before listing them here below, think of English words like Um, like, anyways, basically, well, I mean, or you know.

How often do we use these kinds of words?

Whether we like it or not, “muletillas” are a part of daily life. At times, they can be challenging to translate because they don’t mean anything at all, but it doesn’t mean they are not useful.

Today’s article will list the 20 most useful “muletillas” in Colombian Spanish. They can be categorized according to their function.

Let’s see!

“Muletillas” used to structure a conversation

We use these words to put our thoughts together, to shape out and structure our conversations.

1. Así que… – “So”

“Voy a ir a salir a comer con mis amigos, así que no estaré en casa esta noche”
“I’m going out to eat with my friends, so I won’t be home tonight”

2. Entonces – “Then”, “so”

“Si no te gusta el café, entonces vamos a tomar un té”
“If you don’t like coffee, then let’s have some tea”

3. Digamos – “Let’s say”

“Digamos que estoy un poco nerviosa”
“Let’s say I’m a bit nervious”

4. Por eso – “That’s why, for that reason, because of that”

“Tengo un guayabo tenaz! Por eso es que no me gusta tomar”
“I’m super hangover! That’s why I don’t like to drink”

5. Y tal – “And so on” “and such”

“Había tortas, café, pasteles y tal”
“There was cakes, coffee, cakes, and so on”

6. Básicamente – “Basically”

“Es básicamente lo mismo…”
“It’s basically the same”

“Muletillas” used to buy time to think or to re-phrase

We use these words to give ourselves a quick break to think, re-phrase or re-structure a sentence.

7. Eh – “Hmm”

“Eh… como venía diciendo”
“Hmm… as I was saying”

8. Pues – “Well”

“Pues, si no puedes hoy nos vemos entonces mañana”
“Well, if you can’t today then we’ll meet tomorrow”

9. Bueno – “Good”, “Well”

“Bueno, coordinemos una reunión con el equipo”
“Good, let’s schedule a meeting with the team”

10. O sea, es decir – “I mean” “That is”

“Es un dúplex, o sea, un apartamento de dos pisos”
“It’s a duplex, I mean, a two-story apartment”

11. Es como – “is like”

“Bucear es como volar bajo el agua”
“Diving is like flying underwater”

12. La cosa es, lo que pasa es, la vaina es – “The thing is”

“Me encataría ir, la vaina es que tengo que cuidar a mi hermano”
“I would love to go, the thing is that I need to look after my brother”

“Muletillas” used to answer or react

We use these words or short expressions when we use to reaffirm a positive answer, agree on something, or react surprisingly to an affirmation or question

13. Vale – “ok”, “fine”, “alright”

“Te llamo mañana y cuadramos. – Vale!”
“I’ll call you tomorrow to arrange. – Ok!”

14. Total, Tal cual, Exactamente – “Exactly”

“Entonces, ¿según mi tipo debo usar esta crema? – Exactamente!”
“So, according to my skin type, I should use this cream? – Exactly!”

15. Claro, Obvio, Obviamente – “Sure”, “of course”, “obviously”

“Me avisas cuando llegues a casa, ¿vale?” – Claro, te aviso!
“Let me know when you get home, ok?” – Sure, I’ll let you know!

16. ¿En serio? ¿De verdad? – “Really? Are you serious? Seriously?”

“No como carne. – ¿En serio? Y entonces, ¿qué comes?”
“I don’t eat meat – really? So, What do you eat?”

17. ¡Yo sé! – “I know, right?2

“Nada como la comida de mamá – ¡Yo sé! Es lo mejor.”
“Nothing like mom’s cooking- I know! It’s the best”

“Muletillas” used to check comprehension

These “muletillas” are used to check whether the other person has understood or not what we are saying.

18. ¿Me entiendes? ¿sabes a que me refiero?- “Do you know what I mean?”

“Crecí allí, así que sé cómo es. ¿sabes a que me refiero?”
“I grew up there, so I know what it’s like. You know what I mean?”

19. ¿Sabes? – You know?

“Ella es hermosa, ¿sabes? El tipo de chica que no solo es linda, sino chévere e inteligente”
“She is gorgeous. You know?” The kind of girl that is pretty but also cool and smart”

20. ¿No? – “Isn’t it?”

“El día está super lindo hoy, ¿no?”
“It’s beautiful today, isn’t it?”

As you could see, filler words or “muletillas” are versatile and make conversations more fluid. They are short and fairly easy to remember.

You can also use a combination of them within a sentence. Just beware of not overusing them! Start using only a few words first, and then add more slowly.

If you want to speak more naturally and engage in conversations like a native Spanish speaker, start practicing now!

How to practice?

  • Pay attention to native Spanish speakers, and start identifying their “muletillas”
  • Take note of the words you hear frequently, and ask your Spanish-speaker friends or tutor what they mean.
  • Watch Latin American or Spanish news, TV shows or vlogs. Put on captions and identify the most common filler words.

If you want to take your Spanish to the next level, check our website out to get a glimpse of how it is learning Spanish with us!

Join any of our in-person or online classes. And read our weekly blog to learn more about the Spanish language and the Colombian culture.

Hope to see you soon!