How Do You Say “Sail” In Spanish?

Whether you’re planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country or simply want to expand your linguistic skills, learning Spanish can be a rewarding experience. One of the first steps in learning any language is to build your vocabulary, and that includes knowing how to say common words like “sail” in Spanish.

The Spanish translation for “sail” is “vela”.

How Do You Pronounce The Spanish Word For “Sail”?

Learning how to properly pronounce a foreign word can be challenging, but with the right tools and guidance, it can be a breeze. If you’re wondering how to say “sail” in Spanish, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s tackle the pronunciation of this word together!

Phonetic Breakdown

The Spanish word for “sail” is “vela”. Here’s the phonetic breakdown:

Spanish Word Phonetic Spelling
Vela veh-lah

Tips For Pronunciation

Now that you know the phonetic spelling, let’s go over some tips for pronunciation:

  • The “v” in “vela” is pronounced like a “b” in English. So, it sounds like “bela”.
  • The “e” in “vela” is pronounced like the “e” in “bed”.
  • The “a” in “vela” is pronounced like the “a” in “father”.

Put it all together and you get “bela”. Remember to roll your “r” sound, as is typical in Spanish pronunciation.

Practice makes perfect, so keep practicing the pronunciation until you feel confident in your ability to say “vela” correctly. Happy sailing!

Proper Grammatical Use Of The Spanish Word For “Sail”

When using the Spanish word for “sail,” it is important to pay attention to proper grammar to ensure clear communication. Here are some key considerations:

Placement Of “Sail” In Sentences

The Spanish word for “sail” is “vela.” In most cases, “vela” is used as a noun and placed before the verb in a sentence. For example:

  • “Él levantó la vela” – “He raised the sail”
  • “La vela está rota” – “The sail is torn”

However, in some cases, “vela” can also be used as a verb in its infinitive form. In these cases, it is placed at the end of the sentence. For example:

  • “Vamos a vela” – “We’re going sailing”

Verb Conjugations Or Tenses

If using “vela” as a verb, it is important to conjugate it properly based on the subject and tense of the sentence. Here are some examples:

Subject Present Tense Conjugation
Yo (I) veleo
Tú (You) veleas
Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You formal) velea
Nosotros/Nosotras (We) veleamos
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes (They/You all) velean

For example:

  • “Ella velea la vela” – “She sails the sail”
  • “Nosotros vamos a velear” – “We’re going to sail”

Agreement With Gender And Number

Like many Spanish nouns, “vela” must agree with the gender and number of the subject in the sentence. If the subject is masculine and singular, “vela” becomes “velo.” If the subject is feminine and plural, “vela” becomes “velas.” For example:

  • “El velo está roto” – “The sail is torn” (referring to a masculine subject)
  • “Las velas están listas” – “The sails are ready” (referring to a feminine plural subject)

Common Exceptions

While the above guidelines cover most use cases for “vela,” there are some common exceptions to keep in mind. For example, “vela” can also be used as a synonym for “candle” in certain contexts. Additionally, certain regional dialects may use different words for “sail” altogether.

Examples Of Phrases Using The Spanish Word For “Sail”

Knowing how to say “sail” in Spanish can come in handy when you’re on a boating trip or traveling to a Spanish-speaking country. Here are some common phrases that include the word “sail” in Spanish:

1. Levantar La Vela

This phrase means “to raise the sail” and is used when getting ready to set sail. For example:

  • Capitán: ¡Tripulación, levanten las velas! (Captain: Crew, raise the sails!)
  • Marinero: ¿Dónde está el cabo para levantar la vela? (Sailor: Where is the rope to raise the sail?)

2. Navegar A Vela

This phrase means “to sail” and is used when referring to traveling by boat using the wind. For example:

  • Capitán: Vamos a navegar a vela hasta la isla. (Captain: Let’s sail to the island.)
  • Pasajero: ¿Es seguro navegar a vela con este viento? (Passenger: Is it safe to sail with this wind?)

3. Bajar La Vela

This phrase means “to lower the sail” and is used when it’s time to bring the boat to a stop or when the wind is too strong. For example:

  • Capitán: Tripulación, bajen las velas. (Captain: Crew, lower the sails.)
  • Marinero: Necesitamos bajar la vela porque el viento está muy fuerte. (Sailor: We need to lower the sail because the wind is too strong.)

Here’s an example conversation in Spanish using the word “sail”:

Capitán: Vamos a navegar a vela hasta la bahía. ¿Están listos para levantar la vela?
Marinero: Sí, capitán. ¿Dónde está el cabo para levantar la vela?
Capitán: Está en la caja de herramientas. Después de levantar la vela, tenemos que asegurarnos de que esté bien sujeta.
Marinero: Entendido, capitán. ¿Y si el viento cambia de dirección mientras navegamos?
Capitán: Si eso sucede, tendremos que ajustar la posición de la vela para seguir navegando a vela. Pero no te preocupes, yo te enseñaré cómo hacerlo.
Marinero: Gracias, capitán.


Captain: We’re going to sail to the bay. Are you ready to raise the sail?
Sailor: Yes, captain. Where’s the rope to raise the sail?
Captain: It’s in the toolbox. After we raise the sail, we need to make sure it’s secured properly.
Sailor: Understood, captain. And what if the wind changes direction while we’re sailing?
Captain: If that happens, we’ll have to adjust the position of the sail to keep sailing. But don’t worry, I’ll show you how to do it.
Sailor: Thank you, captain.

More Contextual Uses Of The Spanish Word For “Sail”

Understanding the different contexts in which the Spanish word for “sail” is used can help you communicate more effectively in a variety of situations. Here are some examples:

Formal Usage Of Sail

In formal settings, such as business meetings or academic presentations, it’s important to use the correct terminology. When discussing sails in a nautical context, the Spanish word “vela” is the most appropriate term to use. This is the standard term used in textbooks and technical manuals, and is recognized by sailors and experts in the field.

Informal Usage Of Sail

When speaking with friends or in casual situations, you may hear different variations of the word “sail.” Some common informal terms include “vuelo,” “lona,” or “panuelo.” These terms are not technically correct, but are still widely used in everyday conversation.

Other Contexts

The Spanish language is rich with idiomatic expressions and slang terms that incorporate the word “sail.” For example, the phrase “irse a toda vela” means to go at full speed, while “hacer vela” means to sail or navigate. Additionally, historical and cultural contexts can influence the use of the word “sail.” In Spain, for example, the “Fiesta de la Vela” is a popular festival that celebrates the region’s maritime heritage.

Popular Cultural Usage

Finally, popular culture can also influence the way we use language. In the world of music, for example, the Spanish band La Vela Puerca takes its name from the slang term for “sail.” The band’s name is a nod to their hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay, where the sails of ships in the harbor were a common sight.

Regional Variations Of The Spanish Word For “Sail”

When it comes to the Spanish language, regional variations are common. The same is true for the word “sail”. While the word “vela” is commonly used to mean “sail” in most Spanish-speaking countries, there are some regional variations that are important to note.

Usage Of The Word “Sail” In Different Spanish-speaking Countries

In general, the word “vela” is used to mean “sail” in most Spanish-speaking countries. However, there are some exceptions. For example, in Argentina, the word “velamen” is used instead of “vela”. Similarly, in Chile, the word “arboladura” is used to mean “sail rigging”.

It’s also worth noting that in some Spanish-speaking countries, the word “vela” can have additional meanings beyond “sail”. For example, in Mexico, “vela” can also mean “candle”. In Spain, “vela” can also refer to a religious ceremony or vigil.

Regional Pronunciations

While the word “vela” is pronounced similarly throughout most Spanish-speaking countries, there are some regional variations in pronunciation. For example, in Spain, the “v” sound is pronounced more like a “b” sound. In Latin America, the “v” sound is pronounced more like an English “v” sound.

Additionally, some regions may have different accents or inflections that can affect the pronunciation of the word “vela”. For example, in the Caribbean, the word may be pronounced with a more musical or rhythmic inflection.

Overall, while the word “vela” is the most commonly used word for “sail” in the Spanish language, it’s important to be aware of regional variations and pronunciations that may differ depending on the Spanish-speaking country or region.

Other Uses Of The Spanish Word For “Sail” In Speaking & Writing

While the word “sail” in Spanish typically refers to the nautical meaning of the term, it can also have other uses in speaking and writing. It’s important to understand these different meanings so that you can use the word correctly in context.

Other Meanings Of “Vela” In Spanish

The word “vela” in Spanish can refer to:

  • A candle
  • A veil
  • A sail (in the context of windmills or other machinery)
  • A flap of skin on certain animals, such as bats or flying squirrels, that allows them to glide through the air

When using the word “vela” in Spanish, it’s important to consider the context to determine which meaning is appropriate. For example, if you are talking about a candle, you would use “vela” to refer to it. If you are talking about the sail on a windmill, “vela” would also be used in that context.

Distinguishing Between Meanings

To distinguish between the different meanings of “vela” in Spanish, it’s important to look at the context of the sentence. Consider the following examples:

  • “Encendí una vela en el altar” (I lit a candle on the altar)
  • “La vela del barco estaba rota” (The sail of the boat was broken)
  • “El murciélago extendió sus velas para volar” (The bat spread its wings to fly)

In the first example, “vela” refers to a candle because of the context of the altar. In the second example, “vela” refers to a sail because of the context of the boat. In the third example, “vela” refers to the flaps of skin on the bat because of the context of flying.

By paying attention to the context of the sentence, you can determine which meaning of “vela” is appropriate and use the word correctly in your writing or speaking.

Common Words And Phrases Similar To The Spanish Word For “Sail”

When looking for words and phrases similar to “sail” in Spanish, there are several options to choose from that can be used in different contexts. Below are some common synonyms and related terms to “sail” in Spanish:

1. Navegar

The Spanish verb “navegar” translates to “to sail” in English, but it can also mean “to navigate” or “to browse” depending on the context. For example, “navegar en un barco” means “to sail on a boat”, while “navegar por Internet” means “to browse the internet”.

2. Vela

“Vela” is the literal translation of “sail” in Spanish. It can be used to refer to the actual sail on a boat, as well as the act of sailing. For example, “izar la vela” means “to hoist the sail”, while “ir a vela” means “to go sailing”.

3. Nauta

The Spanish noun “nauta” refers to a sailor or seafarer. It is often used in a more formal or literary context than “marinero” (sailor) or “tripulante” (crew member). For example, “el nauta experto” means “the expert sailor”.

While there are many words and phrases similar to “sail” in Spanish, there are also some antonyms or opposite terms to be aware of:

1. Anclar

The Spanish verb “anclar” means “to anchor”. This is the opposite of “sailing” in that it involves stopping the boat and securing it in one place. For example, “anclar en una bahía” means “to anchor in a bay”.

2. Atracar

“Atracar” is another verb that is opposite to “sailing” in that it means “to dock” or “to moor”. This involves bringing the boat to a stationary position and securing it to a dock or pier. For example, “atracar en el puerto” means “to dock at the port”.

3. Estacionar

The Spanish verb “estacionar” means “to park”. While it is not directly related to sailing or boating, it is an antonym in the sense that it involves bringing a vehicle to a stationary position and securing it. For example, “estacionar el barco en el muelle” means “to park the boat at the pier”.

Mistakes To Avoid When Using The Spanish Word For “Sail”

When speaking or writing in Spanish, it is essential to use the correct terms to avoid confusion. One of the most common mistakes made by non-native speakers is the incorrect use of the word “sail.” While it may seem like a simple translation, there are a few common errors that people make when using this word in Spanish. In this article, we will discuss these mistakes and provide tips to avoid them.

Common Mistakes

Here are some common mistakes that non-native speakers make when using the Spanish word for “sail:”

  • Using the word “vela” to refer to the sail of a ship or boat, when it actually means “candle” in Spanish.
  • Using the word “navegar” to refer to the act of sailing, when it actually means “to navigate.”
  • Using the word “barco” to refer to a sailboat, when it actually means “boat” in Spanish.

Tips To Avoid These Mistakes

To avoid these common mistakes, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Use the word “vela” in the context of sailing, but make sure to specify that you are referring to the sail of a ship or boat.
  2. Use the word “navegar” to refer to the act of sailing, but make sure to use it in the correct context.
  3. Use the word “velero” to refer to a sailboat, which is the correct term in Spanish.

It’s important to note that the word “vela” can also be used in other contexts, such as referring to a kite or parachute. In these cases, it’s important to use the correct context to avoid confusion.


In this blog post, we have explored the different ways to say “sail” in Spanish. We have learned that the most common translation for “sail” is “vela,” which can refer to both the sail on a boat and the act of sailing. We have also discussed other possible translations, such as “navegar” and “navegación,” which are more general terms that can be used to refer to any type of navigation on water.

Furthermore, we have highlighted the importance of understanding the context in which the word “sail” is being used, as this can impact the most appropriate translation. For example, if you are talking about a specific type of sail, such as a jib or a mainsail, you may need to use a more specific term to convey your meaning accurately.

Encouragement To Practice And Use Sail In Real-life Conversations

Learning how to say “sail” in Spanish is just the first step in mastering the language. To truly become fluent, it is essential to practice using the vocabulary you have learned in real-life conversations. Whether you are sailing in Spanish-speaking waters or simply talking to Spanish-speaking friends, taking the time to practice and refine your language skills will help you to communicate more effectively and build stronger relationships.

So, don’t be afraid to use your new vocabulary in everyday situations. Take the time to immerse yourself in the language, listen to native speakers, and practice speaking and writing Spanish as much as possible. With time and dedication, you can become a confident and proficient Spanish speaker who is comfortable using “vela,” “navegar,” and other terms related to sailing and navigation.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority and He’s a seasoned innovator, harnessing the power of technology to connect cultures through language. His worse translation though is when he refers to “pancakes” as “flat waffles”.