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Crash Course: Argentine Spanish

Simon Staedeli

If you’re planning to come to Argentina or if you have arrived recently, it should be evident that Argentines do not speak the type of Spanish you may have learned in a textbook… or in any other Spanish speaking country for that matter.

Argentine Spanish or “Castellano” is not that hard to master and with a few quick adjustments you will be able to blend in with the porteño crowd!

“Shh

An important thing to remember about Castellano is that Argentines pronounce “ll” and “y” with a “sh” sound. Keep this in mind with words like ella, playa, yo, calle, galletita,

“Vos”

While in Argentina you will hear the word “vos” instead of “tu” when speaking Spanish.  “Vos” is a very important part of Argentine Castellano and has its own conjugation in the simple present tense.  Although using “tu” is obviously understood here, we’d like to fill you in on this difference in Castellano.

Examples:
Instead of “tu eres” Argentines say “vos sos
Instead of “tu tienes” Argentines say “vos tenés
Instead of “tu vienes” Argentines say “vos venís
Instead of “tu puedes” Argentines say “vos podés

Instead of “tu hablas” Argentines say “vos hablás”To use the “vos” form, start with an infinitive verb like decir. Then drop the “r”, add an accent over the last vowel, and add an “s” (decís). Remember that verbs that normally have a root change maintain their infinitive form. Very simple, try it!

Argentine slang (Lunfardo)

Check out some of these unique words and phrases you may only hear while here in Buenos Aires!

Afanar
To rob, to steal, to overcharge.  If you are charged too much at a store it’s un afano

Bárbaro
Great “Que bárbaro!” – “wow!”

Boliche
Dance venue, bar, club all together

Boludo
Fool, used commonly among friends as a greeting or conversation filler.

“Che boludo!”
Can either be “hey buddy!” or “you idiot!” depending on the situation.

Bondi
Bus (colectivo)

Capo
Someone who is well liked, popular (“the man”)

Chamuyero
Smooth talker, know-it-all

Che
“Hey,” meaningless addition to a sentence or thought

Copado(a)
Anything or person that is cool

Fiaca
Laziness “Que fiaca!” – you don’t feel like doing anything (tener fiaca)

Laburar
To work

Mina
Girl

Mira vos
“Wow”, “really” “you don´t say.” Literally “look at you!”

Buena onda
Good attitude, agreeable, cool (mala onda would be the opposite)

Pibe
Kid, guy

Pilas
Energy (tener pilas, to have energy)

Quilombo
Mess, chaos

Tipo
Man, guy

Trucho
Fake, poor quality

Viste
“You know” meaningless interjection in conversations

Use these few tips to get you started while out and about in Argentina, but don’t forget that the best way to learn talk like a local is to start talking TO locals!

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