Construction Terms in Spanish

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Words like 'construction worker', 'bricks' and 'cement' come in handy if you plan to deal with Spanish speakers when building a house or for any construction project. This lesson gives you some useful terminology and common phrases you can use.

Basic Communication

Kelly is a construction general contractor. He often deals with workers whose first language is Spanish and who do not speak English. A lot of the communication is done with gestures but, in the end, Kelly had to learn some useful phrases along with the most common construction vocabulary.

Now Kelly works easily because he avoids looking up terminology word by word in the dictionary, which can lead to wrong expressions or words.

Today, we follow Kelly as he uses the Spanish language in his field: la construcción (lah kohns-trook-see-OHN), which means 'the construction'. Let's begin with loose vocabulary words first.

Construction Vocabulary

The Basic People

Let's begin with some of the people involved in construction:

  • el albañil (ehl ahl-bah-NYEEL) means 'the construction worker'
  • el contratante (ehl kohn-trah-TAHN-teh) means 'the contractor'
  • el supervisor de obra (ehl soo-pehr-bee-SOHR deh OH-brah) means 'the construction superintendent' ('la obra' means 'the work' and is how Spanish speakers refer to a construction project)
  • el arquitecto (ehl ahr-kee-TEHK-toh) means 'the architect'
  • el ingeniero (ehl een-heh-nee-EH-roh) means 'the engineer'

And here is a phrase you may need to use:

  • Necesito hablar con ... (neh-seh-SEE-toh ah-BLAHR kohn ...) means 'I need to talk to ...' You would add any of the words above. For example, right now Kelly needs to talk to the single construction worker he has. He tells his assistant: Necesito hablar con el albañil.

Note: The plural for construction worker is los albañiles (lohs ahl-bah-NYEEL-ehs). Very important: if the contractor is a female, say la instead of el. For the others, say la plus supervisora, arquitecta, and ingeniera.

Also, when hiring is a need, Kelly says:

  • Necesito contratar un albañil. (I need to hire a construction worker). Use un (oon) for males and una (OOH-nah) for females. Un and una mean 'a'.


I need to talk to Katie, the construction superintendent.
fem


The Basic Vocabulary

Here are some words that are common in the construction sector:

  • la obra (la OH-brah) means 'the construction project'
  • el edificio (ehl eh-dee-FEE-seeoh) means 'the building'
  • la casa (lah KAH-sah) means 'the house'
  • el terreno (ehl tehr-REH-noh) means 'the land'
  • el contrato (ehl kohn-TRAH-toh) means 'the contract'
  • el costo (ehl KOHS-toh) means 'the cost'

With these words, Kelly can show people some important aspects. He uses este for male nouns and esta for feminine nouns. Let's see him in action. First, Kelly shows a construction worker a computerized image of the project that is about to start:

  • Esta es la obra. (This is the construction project.)

Next, he shows a scary number:

  • Este es el costo. (This is the cost.)

Basic Construction Materials

Here are some basic materiales de construcción (mah-teh-ree-AH-lehs deh kohns-trook-see-OHN), which are 'construction materials'.

  • el cemento (ehl seh-MEHN-toh) means 'the cement'
  • el concreto (ehl kohn-KREH-toh) means 'the concrete'
  • el cable (ehl KAH-bleh) means 'the cable'
  • el piso flotante (ehl PEE-soh floh-TAHN-teh) means 'the laminate wood flooring'
  • la grava (lah GRAH-bah) means 'the gravel'
  • la pintura (lah peen-TOO-rah) means 'the paint'
  • la tubería (lah TOO-beh-REE-ah) means 'the pipes'
  • la arena (lah ah-REH-nah) means 'the sand'
  • la cerámica (lah seh-RAH-mee-kah) means 'the ceramics'
  • los ladrillos (lohs lah-DREE-yohs) means 'the bricks'
  • los bloques de hormigón (lohs BLOH-kehs deh ohr-mee-GOHN) means 'the concrete blocks'

As Kelly goes through his checklist, he realizes he needs some more materials:

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