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Good Morning Buenos Aires News & Headlines Presents: Learning Spanish In Argentina

Buenos Aires News Presents an article by ExpanishArgentine Spanish

Thousands of foreigners a year land at Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza airport without being able to speak a word, most aim to get by with a few words and a phrase book to hand. Some however arrive with the aim of putting in that little bit more effort, trying to speak like a local and learn Spanish in Argentina.

However, there are a number of things that Spanish learners in Argentina need to be aware of before they start.

This article, provided by Expanish Spanish School, Argentina will hopefully enlighten the reader, to some extent, on the pitfalls and aspects of learning Spanish in Argentina and, more precisely, Buenos Aires.

Firstly it should be made clear that the differences between the two forms of Spanish (i.e. Castellano and Castellano Del Río De La Plata) are superficial, and as such will not really get you in to too many sticky situations. However, there are still great benefits in learning the ropes to a new dialect, and by doing so you can at least minimize the amount of awkward silences you have to endure.

Now onto the detail…

Grammar – Vos?

A very common issue for people learning Spanish in Argentina is the common use of vos instead of . Due to differing conjugations, this change means a conversation between two people can sound unfamiliar to the untrained ear. Vos is essentially the Spanish version of thee, so if you fancy sounding a little bit literary, if not just slightly behind the times, then you can go ahead and use it in Spain too. Here are some conjugations:

  • Pedir: Tú pides –> vos pedis
  • Tener: Tú tienes –> vos tenes
  • Acordar: Tú acuerdas –> vos acordas
  • Ser: Tú eres –> vos sos

Vos is, in reality, easier to use than because there are no irregular verbs, other than ser which conjugates to sos instead of eres. Vos is used by all argentines and normally is preferred to , but Argentines will generally be ok with you using if you really are hell-bent on not fitting in. You will never hear a Megalocal say .

Another upshot of the whole vos thing is that vosotros is not really used hear. Argentines use Ustedes both formally and informally instead.

Accentual Traits

Two main traits of the Argentinean accent, at least as far as foreigners are concerned and especially in Buenos Aires, are the ‘sh’ sound and the fact that there is no audible lisp.

When learning the language it is important to remember that, as you are not in Spain, you must pronounce the letters z and c as a hard s sound.

The other major difference, as I have already outlined, is the use of the ‘sh’ sound for a double ‘l’. The sound is actually half way between a ‘sh’ and the French way of pronouncing ‘j’, so just look to say something that sounds like either of the two and you’ll probably be fine. Of course, a Megalocal would aim for just about 75% ‘sh’, 25% ‘j’, give or take a percent or two. For example, this sound would come into play in the phrase “¿Como se llama?” which would sound more like “¿Como se shama?”. It’s easy once you get used to it.


For the beginners, here are some elementary phrases that you’ll need to know when you talk to a Porteño. Even the most basic things are sometimes different.

  • ¿De donde eres? –> ¿De donde sos?
    • Where are you from?
    • ¿Cuánto cuesta? –> ¿Cuánto sale?
      • How much does it cost?
      • Tal Vez/Quizás –> Puede Ser
        • Maybe…
        • No lo se –> Que sé yo
          • I don’t know

Getting to know some Porteño Slang (Lunfardo)

Porteños love to use slang. They have a lot of words that you won’t recognize. That goes for other Spanish-speakers too. You’ll need to know at least a couple if you want to understand anyone who isn’t a square. Here are some examples of the less gracious words used:

  • Che– roughly used as ‘hey!’, especially when Porteños are angry.
    • “¡Che! ¡Dame mi dinero!”
    • Boludo– Stupid/idiot.
      • “¿el cacheteó Fidél Castro? ¡Che boludo!
      • Quilombo – A mess/disaster (literal translation is brothel, careful with this

        • “¡vos casa es un quilombo!”

Vocabulary beyond Spain

As well as slang and verb forms, there are also some sticky issues for those who already know Spanish, such as a totally different vocabulary:

  • Strawberries – frutilla
  • Peach – Durazno
  • Juice – jugo. It’s definitely not zumo.
  • Computer – Computador
  • Potato – Papa
  • To take – Tomar. Por favor, no coges el bus. Hay mujeres y niños adentro.
  • Nightclub – Boliche
  • Sandwich – Sandwich

Good luck!

Expanish Spanish School in Argentina offers a range of Spanish courses and classes for beginners through to advanced. The school is centrally located in downtown Buenos Aires and offers some of the best Spanish learning facilities in town, including Spanish library, cinema room  and a range of free and low cost Spanish immersion activities. Visit Expanish Spanish School for more information.


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Posted by on Oct 7 2011. Filed under Featured Stories, Learning Spanish. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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