20160429-igor-trepeshchenok-barnimages-03

09 Mar AA Roadwatch’s European phrasebook

There’s nothing quite like the freedom of a driving holiday. Whether you’re taking your own car on the ferry or hiring one when you get there, driving in Europe is always an adventure. The continent has a huge variety of driving routes, from scenic mountain roads through the French Alps to coastal routes along the Italian shores, to huge Autobahns that get you from A to B in Germany.

But when you’re getting used to driving on the right and desperately trying to work out which destination your sat nav has just dramatically mispronounced, the last thing you need is a language barrier.

While visual road signs are similar right across Europe, written ones still cause confusion, particularly if you’re crossing borders. In Belgium and Switzerland, for example, a sudden change in the language of the road signs is often your only clue that you’ve passed from one region to another.

Our Roadwatch guide decodes some of the most common terms in six major European languages and gives you some phrases to help you out in case you need to ask a local for assistance. So bookmark, print or screen-shot the relevant language(s) before you hit the road, wherever it’s going to take you.

Main photo credit: BarnImages.

Click to jump to each language!

– French
– German
– Spanish
– Dutch
– Portuguese
– Italian

FRENCH
France by Salva Barbera used under CC licence

Road signs from France, though French is also used in Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Monaco. Photo by Salva Barbera, used under CC licence.

Motorway
Autoroute – Motorway
No parking
Défense de stationner/ Stationnement Interdit – No Parking
One way
Sens unique – One-way
No entry
Défense d’entrer / Sens interdit – No entry
Toll
Péage – Toll
Diversion
Déviation – Diversion
Give way
Cédez le passage / Cédez la priorité – Give way / Yield
Service station
Station service – Petrol Station

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Ma voiture est tombée en panne.

I have a flat tyre. – J’ai un pneu crevé.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Je suis tombé(e) en panne sèche.

Is there a petrol station near here? – Y a-t-il une station service près d’ici?

There has been a crash. – Il y a eu un accident de voiture.

I need a tow-truck. – J’ai besoin d’une dépanneuse.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Je suis membre de l’AA en Irlande.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – (C’est un service de dépannage.)

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – C’est une voiture de location/ C’est ma propre voiture.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Est-ce que je peux me garer ici? Ça coûte combien?

Do you speak English? – Parlez-vous anglais?

GERMAN
Germany by ChristianSchd used under CC licence

Road signs from Germany, though German is also used in Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Tyrol in northern Italy. Photo by ChristianSchd, used under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Motorway
Autobahn – Motorway
No parking
Parkverbot / Parken verboten – No Parking
One way
Einbahnstraβe – One-way
No entry
Einfahrt Verboten – No entry
Toll
Maut / Mautstelle – Toll
Diversion
Umleitung / Umweg – Diversion
Give way
Vorfahrt gewähren / Vorfahrt beachten – Give way / Yield
Petrol station
Tankstelle – Petrol Station

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Ich habe eine Autopanne.

I have a flat tyre. – Ich habe eine platten Reifen.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Ich habe kein Benzin / Diesel mehr.

Is there a petrol station near here? – Wo finde ich die nächste Tankstelle?

There has been a crash. – Ich hatte einen Unfall.

I need a tow-truck. – Ich brauche einen Abschleppwagen.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Ich bin Mitglied des AA in Irland.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – (Das ist eine Pannenhilfe.)

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – Es ist eine Mietwagen / Es ist mein eigenes Auto.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Kann ich hier parken? Was kostet das?

Do you speak English? – Sprechen Sie Englisch?

SPANISH
Spain by Luis Garcia used under CC licence

Road signs from Spain, though Spanish is also used in Andorra. Photo by Luis Garcia, used under CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence.

Motorway
Autopista – Motorway
 No parking1
Prohibido aparcar – No Parking
One-way
Dirección única – One-way
No entry1
Prohibido el paso / Prohibida la entrada – No entry
Toll
Peaje – Toll
Diversion
Desvío  – Diversion
Give way
Ceda el paso – Give way / Yield
Petrol station
Estación de servicio – Petrol station

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Mi coche se ha averiado.

I have a flat tyre. – Tengo una rueda pinchada.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Me quedo sin gasolina (petrol)/ gasóleo (diesel)

Is there a petrol station near here? – ¿Hay una estación de servicio cerca de aquí?

There has been a crash. – Ha habido un choque.

I need a tow-truck. – Necesito una grúa.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Soy miembro/miembra de la AA en Irlanda.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – (Es un servicio de asistencia en carretera)

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – Es un auto alquilado. / Es mi propio coche.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – ¿Puedo aparcar aquí? ¿Cuánto cuesta?

Do you speak English? – ¿Habla usted inglés?

DUTCH
Netherlands by -jha- used under CC licence

Road signs from the Netherlands though Flemish, which is used in the Flanders region of Belgium, is very similar to Dutch. Photo by Johann H. Addicks / addicks@gmx.net, used under GFDL – GNU Free Documentation License.

 Motorway
Autoweg – Motorway
No parking
Niet parkeren / Parkeren verboden – No Parking
One way
Éénrichtingsverkeer – One-way traffic
No entry
Geen toegang / Geen ingang – No entry
Toll
Tol / Tolweg – Toll
Diversion
Omleiding – Diversion
Give way
Voorrang verlenen / Geef voorang – Give way / Yield
Petrol station
Tankstation – Petrol Station

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Mijn auto is kapot.

I have a flat tyre. – Ik heb een lekke band.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Ik heb geen benzine / diesel meer.

Is there a petrol station near here? – Is er een tankstation in de buurt?

There has been a crash. – Er is een ongeluk gebeurd.

I need a tow-truck. – Ik heb een takelwagen nodig.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Ik ben lid van de AA in Ierland.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – Dat is een pechhulp.

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – Dit is een huurwagen. / Dit is mijn wagen.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Kan ik hier parkeren? Wat kost dat?

Do you speak English? – Spreekt u Engels?

PORTUGUESE
Portugal by Diego Delso used under CC licence

Road signs from Portugal. Photo by Diego Delso, used under CC BY-SA 3.07 licence.

Motorway
Autoestrada – Motorway
No parking
Proibido estacionar – No Parking
One-way
Sentido Único – One-way
No entry
Proibido entrar – No entry
Toll
Portagem – Toll
Diversion
Desvío – Diversion
Give way
Dar Prioridade – Give way / Yield
Service station
Posto de gasolina / Bomba de gasolina – Petrol Station

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Meu carro avariou-se.

I have a flat tyre. – Tenho um pneu furado.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Eu não tenho mais gasolina/ diesel.

Is there a petrol station near here? – Onde fica um posto de gasolina?

There has been a crash. – Houve um acidente.

I need a tow-truck. – Preciso de um guincho.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Eu sou membro da AA na Irlanda.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – É um serviço de pronto socorro de carros.

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – Esse carro é alugado. / Esse é meu próprio carro.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Posso estacionar aqui?  Quanto custa?

Do you speak English? – Você fala inglês?

ITALIAN
Italy by Armando Mancini used under CC licence

Road signs from Italy, though Italian is also used in Switzerland and San Marino. Photo by Armando Mancini, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 licence.

Motorway
Autostrada – Motorway
No parking
Divieto di Parcheggiare / Sosta Vietata – No Parking
One-way
Senso Unico – One-way
No entry
Divieto di Accesso – No entry
Toll
Pedaggio – Toll / Stazione – Toll plaza
Diversion
Deviazione – Diversion
Give way
Dare la Precedenza – Give way / Yield
Petrol station
Stazione di servizio – Petrol Station

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – La mia macchina è in panne.

I have a flat tyre. – Ho una gomma a terra.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Sono senza benzina / diesel.

Is there a petrol station near here? – C’è una stazione di servizio qui vicino?

There has been a crash. – C’è stato un incidente.

I need a tow-truck. – Necessito di un carro attrezzi.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Sono un membro dell’AA in Irlanda.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – È un servizio di soccorso stradale.

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – È un auto a noleggio. / È la mia auto.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Posso parcheggiare qui? Quanto costa?

Do you speak English? – Parla inglese?

Lauren Beehan
beehanl@theaa.ie