The Spanish spoken in Argentina is known as “Rioplatense” as it developed along the Rio de la Plata river and is used also in Uruguay. It is more boastful and loud than in Chile, much more influenced by the Italian cadence of its many immigrants from the peninsula. Here are a few words and expressions you can use to blend in. We hope this little beginner’s guide will help you find your way through a conversation in Argentine Spanish!
This article will not teach you Spanish. If that is your goal, you will need more than a blog post: rather a mix of study book/online app, class and tandem practice.
This article is intended for people who already speak Spanish or have some secure notions of it, to introduce them to some handpicked particularities of the Spanish spoken in Argentina. Of course, there is not one kind of Argentinian Spanish – each region has its expressions, its slang and its pronunciation. So there is much more to it for sure. But this is what we heard, what we understood, and found funny, useful or interesting.
The most useful words and expressions of Argentine Spanish
The world-famous ‘che‘ is not a name, it’s a way to call someone’s attention (either to start talking to them or to emphasize something during a conversation) in an informal way. A bit like ‘mate’ or ‘buddy’. Guevara was nicknamed “Che” simply because, like any good Argentine, he used it a lot.
Boludo: very similar to the Chilean ‘Huevón’, it’s a friendly way to call your friend. ‘Culiado’ is also used in some regions. A bit more rude is ‘Pelotudo‘. Please, do replace the final -o with an -a when talking to a lady.
When using the 2nd person singular, don’t say ‘tu‘ but ‘vos‘. The verb will then be accentuated on the final syllable, eg. vos pensás, vos tenés, vos sos, etc.
This accentuation appears on the imperative too (still 2nd person sing.), messing up all the irregular verbs: vení, poné, decí, etc.
Some words are typical to Argentine Spanish, coming either from Italian, Neapolitan, some indigenous language or another, or from some random origin lost in history. A “pibe” is a kid or a young man, while a girl is a “piba” or more often a “mina“. Pesos can be “mangos” and a place with music is a “boliche“. But when things get really messed up, it’s a “quilombo“!
In such a big country, there are obviously many regional variations in vocabulary, expressions and accents. It’s always a funny game to gather them along the way!
Time to practice! Read our recommendations on what to see in Argentina.
Compare Argentine Spanish with our other Beginner’s Language Guides (work in progress):
What is your favourite word in this list of Argentine Spanish?
Do you know any that is not in this guide? Tell us and we might add it!