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A Travel Dictionary for Argentina

You travel to Argentina and speak a bit of Spanish? Great, that’s the best way to get to know the country and its culture properly. Nontheless, the Argentine Spanish is a bit different from the Spanish in Spain. You can say it’s a bit like British and American English. Most differences can be found in the vocabulary and some also in grammar issues.
As I am a big proponent for learning at least some words of the language of the country you’re travelling to, I want to share some more or less important words of the Argentine Spanish language and slang with you. Thus you can communicate with locals more easily and they will be happy to help you, especially when you can show some Argentine Spanish speaking skills.

Typical phrases

Che: typical word which is used in all kind of sentences to get someone’s attention. For example when you start saying something, Argentines tend to start with a “che” in the beginning. Now you are probably wondering if all this comes from Ernesto Che Guevara who was born in Argentina? Wrong. Actually Che Guevara got the name from the Spaniards because he said che all the time as all Argentines do.
Boludo: would actually mean idiot in English but is mainly used for friends. You will definitely hear the phrase “Che boludo” in many situations during your trip through Argentina.
Que quilombo: Another typical phrase in Argentina to express “what a mess”. It is used in many situations too.
re: In order to strengthen something Argentines use the word re. Estuvo una re buena noche. (It was a very good night.) or La comida está re rica. (The food is very tasty).
Que buena onda: is used when you talk about a person or even a place in a good way. If a friend helps you or did something great you say: El tiene re buena onda.
lindo/linda: Instead of saying bonito or bonita for something pretty, Argentines use the word lindo (m.) or linda (f.).

Dictionary of typical words

Spanish (Argentina) Spanish (Spain) English
acá/allá aquí/ahí here/there
bárbaro/a fantástico/a great/cool
la barra goup of friends
la birra la cerveza beer
el boliche la disco disco/club
una boludez something stupid
el colectivo el autobus bus
chocho contento content
como andás como estás how are you
la cuadra block of houses
la flaca la chica girl
la frutilla la fresa strawberry
gamba one hundred pesos
la guita/la plata la moneda/el dinero money/bucks
laburo/laburar trabajo/trabajar the work/to work
luca one thousand pesos
mango one peso
la manteca la mantequilla butter
la mina la chica girl
mira vos en serio really?
el mozo/la moza el camarero/la camarera waiter/waitress
ni en pedo never!/no way
la palta el aguacate avocado
Pasa que… the thing is…
el pancho el perrito caliente hot dog
el pelotudo/la pelotuda el tonto/la tonta jerk
el pibe el chico/la chica boy or girl
la pileta la piscina pool
piola cool
la playa el estacionamiento car park
Porteño/a person from Buenos Aires
puede ser tal vez/quizás maybe
Que cagada That sucks/What a mess.
la remera la camiseta t-shirt
viste you know
vos you
ustedes vosotros/vosotras/ustedes you (plural)/they

Argentine SpanishSource

A short introduction to Argentine grammar

vos

As you might have noticed in the table above, Argentines use vos instead of tú. The formation of the verb is different from Spanish of Spain too. You only replace the last r of the verb with an s and add an accent over the last vowel. There is just one exception:

Spanish (Argentina) Spanish (Spain) English
vos hablás tú hablas you speak
vos comés tú comes you eat
vos vivís tú vives you live
vos sos (exception) tú eres you are

ustedes

In Spain, people use vosotros or vosotras for the word you in plural. Argentines do not use vosotros/as at all, they use ustedes for both you (plural) and they.

Do you speak Spanish and have you been to Argentina before? Did you find it hard to understand the locals?

A big thank you goes especially to my Spanish teacher Romi and my host family for teaching me so much during the months in Córdoba.


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3 thoughts on “A Travel Dictionary for Argentina

    1. Stef Post author

      Right, it’s not really hard to learn basics of Argentine Spanish, you simply have to learn some words and the grammar is even easier than the one of Spain’s Spanish.

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