I recently got back from another country and I had been learning that country's language for several years previously. That was the first international destination I had ever been to, but I plan to travel much more in the future. For any country I travel to, I've vowed to learn at least 20-30 phrases as a courtesy to the locals.

However, in the case of Iceland I have heard that pretty much everyone speaks English. Should I bother starting new conversations with the Icelandic equivalents of "Do you speak English?"/"Hello" or should I just start speaking English immediately?


1 Answer 1


Practically every adult understands at least some English. I think it would be quite hard to find anyone above age 12 that wouldn't understand the phrase "Do you speak English". To be polite you can start with that. If it is somebody in the tourist industry you can of course just assume they know English, you don't need to ask. You should be able to have a normal conversation with around 98% of people in English. They might have more trouble understanding what you are saying when you speak in Icelandic.

I actually experienced last time I was in Iceland that I needed to speak English to get service at some cafés in Reykjavik because the staff didn't know any Icelandic!

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