All You Need to Know About Argentine Spanish
Do you want to learn Argentine Spanish before visiting the birthplace of tango? This lesson on Argentinian Spanish will show you how distinctive, fun, and colorful their forms of speech can be.
Looking for more reasons to learn Argentine Spanish? Phonetically, it is the most distinctive Spanish from the world due to its Italian melody. Italian immigrants that landed in Argentina passed on traditions, customs and this musical accent.
Combined with its slang, Argentine Spanish has to be one of the most interesting ways of approaching the second most spoken language of the world.
Enjoy this sneak peek into Argentine Spanish and culture!
Argentine Spanish Particulars
As a Latin American who is not Argentinian I can tell you that what stands out the most is the way they pronounce the letter y as in playa (beach) and the letter ll as in lluvia (rain). The sound they make is “sh” as in “show,” resulting in plasha and shuvia.
Also keep in mind that second person conjugations are very different when it comes to Argentina, including the pronoun.
First, substitute the word tú with vos. (This word comes from the word “você,” which means you in Portuguese.) You also need to add an accent to the end syllable of most verbs:
- Vos conocés (you know) instead of tú conoces.
- Vos hablás (you speak) instead of tu hablas.
For some verbs, a vowel is omitted as well:
- Vos pensás (you think) instead of tú piensas.
- Vos venís (you come) instead of tú vienes.
- Vos contás (you tell) instead of tú cuentas.
11+ Argentine Spanish Slang Words to Know
Slang—la jerga or el argot—refers to informal words that develop in the oral tradition of a given country or region. These street words are typically used by teenagers and young adults, among others.
Learning slang gives unique insight into a country or region’s culture. These details are key if you want to deepen your understanding of a certain society or culture.
If you visit Argentina without knowing what che means, you’ll be confused 50% of the time. Che is another way of saying “hey” or “dude” and can be used at the beginning or at the end of a sentence.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the famous Argentine revolutionary who was involved in the Cuban Revolution had this ubiquitous word as his nickname.
Che, ¿cómo estuvo el examen?
Hey, how was the exam?
Qué barato está, che.
Dude, this is very cheap.
Boludo is a word that ranges from “man” to “idiot,” so context is key. It can have both positive and negative connotations. It is very common to hear friends say it to each other. Boludo, along with che are the pillars of Argentine Spanish, so use them wisely.
Che boludo, ¿qué hora es?
Hey man, what time is it?
Boluda, no cerraste la puerta.
Dude, you didn’t shut the door.
As a noun you can say it to a person -boluda- or to a thing -boludeces-. Boludeces can translate to nonsense, rubbish, or foolishness.
No me digas boludeces.
Don’t tell me nonsense.
Fue a decirle boludeces a mi novia y ahora ella está enojada.
He went to say some foolishness to my girlfriend and now she is mad.
As a verb, no me boludees, means take me seriously, don’t play with me or don’t try to fool me.
No me boludees, mejor decime la verdad.
Don’t play with me, tell me the truth.
Dejá de boludear a la gente.
Stop fooling people.
Cómo me boludeas, che.
You’re playing with me, man.
3. Mango / Plata
Mango is the word in Argentine Spanish that corresponds to “buck”. Having 3 bucks would translate to having 3 mangos. (It also refers to the mango fruit, of course!)
¿Cuánto cuesta? -Cinco mangos.
How much is it? – Five bucks.
No tengo ni un mango.
I don’t have a buck.
Plata translates to “silver” but is also the word that substitutes the word “money” or “cash”. Another word for money in Argentinian slang is guita.
Él tiene mucha plata.
He has a lot of money.
Sin plata no puedes pasar.
Without cash, you can’t come in.
No lo pude comprar, me quedé sin guita.
I couldn’t buy it, I ran out of money.
The word plata is also used in Colombian slang and other parts of South America.
4. ¿Me estás cargando?
This is a reloaded version of “are you freaking kidding me?” If you want to blend in speaking Argentine Spanish, you will have to use Italian hands for this one. The more ademanes (gestures) and facial expressions you make, the better.
It works for positive and negative expressions. There are many ways of finding Italian heritage in Argentinian culture and this is one of those.
¿Te gastaste toda la plata? ¿Me estás cargando?
Did you spend all the money? Are you freaking kidding me?
¿Volviste a llegar tarde? ¿Me estás cargando?
Did you show up late again? Are you serious?
¿Me estás cargando? ¿Te dieron el empleo? ¡Felicidades!
Are you kidding me? Did you get the job? Congratulations!
This is one of the most versatile words of Argentine Spanish, and you’ll hear it all the time. The literal translation is “give.” Some of its meanings are
- Come on
- Hurry up
Prestame dinero, dale.
Lend me some money, please.
¿Me puedes esperar? -Dale te espero.
Can you wait for me? -OK, I’ll wait for you.
Dale que vamos tarde.
Hurry up, we are late.
¿Quieres ir a la fiesta? -Dale.
Do you want to go to the party? -Sure.
6. No da
This expression comes in handy when something is not appropriate, shouldn’t happen or can’t happen. The literal translation of this Argentine Spanish expression is “it doesn’t give”.
Tengo examen mañana y no da para salir hoy.
I have a test tomorrow and can’t go out today.
Él está casado, no da para que lo invite a cenar.
He is married, it is not appropriate that I invite him to dinner.
Esta colonia es peligrosa, no da para que salga en la noche.
This is a dangerous neighborhood, I shouldn’t go out at night.
¿Quieres que vaya a la fiesta? Tengo 40 años, no da.
You want me to go to the party? I’m 40 years old, it’s not gonna happen.
The prefix re- means “very”, “really”, or “too” and can go before any adjective. Re- is used in other Spanish-speaking countries, too, but in Argentina you’ll hear it more often.
Te ves re-linda.
You look very beautiful.
No lo voy a comprar, está re-caro.
I will not buy it, it’s too expensive.
Esa película es re-mala.
That movie is really bad.
8. Palabras para gente – Words for People
Argentine Spanish offers a lot of options to refer to people. Study this list to sound like a local:
- Piba – girl
- Pibe – boy
- Flaca – girl, literal meaning: skinny girl
- Flaco – guy, literal meaning: skinny boy
- Chabón – guy
- Chabona – girl
- Wacho – man
- Mina – chick
- Viejo – dad
- Vieja – mom
- Vos – you
Every country of Latin America has its word for “awesome” or “cool”. In Mexican slang the word for it is chido, in Colombia is chévere, in Ecuadorian slang is fresco, and copado is the Argentine Spanish version of it. You can use it to describe a person, a thing, or a situation.
Esa piba es re-copada.
That girl is very cool.
Qué copada está tu casa.
Your house is awesome.
¡Está copada esa idea!
That idea is great!
The Argentine Spanish for the word “party” is boliche, which also means bowling in other countries. But before the party they usually have a pre party, that one is called previo.
Vamos al boliche pero primero hagamos la previa.
Let’s go to the party but first let’s have a pre party.
Ayer salieron del boliche a las 3 de la mañana.
Yesterday they left the party at 3 am.
This is my favorite word in Argentine Spanish. Why? Because it is the one that has traveled the most. Quilombo is a Portuguese adaptation of an African word that made its way to Brazil and then migrated to Argentina. It means “issue,” “trouble,” and “mess.” Bardo is another Argentinian slang word for the same concept.
Esta casa es un quilombo.
This house is a mess.
¿En qué quilombo te metiste?
In what trouble did you get into?
En el restaurante hay un quilombo de gente.
In the restaurant, there are a ton of people.
In this last context, “un montón” can substitute for quilombo. Translated to English, it’s similar to saying “a ton.”
More Argentinian Slang Words
These are more words in Argentine Spanish you might want to learn before traveling:
- Vos (tú) – you
- Cheto – rich kid
- Capo total – cool
- El quiosco – store
- Los pochoclos – popcorn
- Tabulero – superstitious
- La estrella – talent
- Manija – anxious
- El potro / La potra – beautiful
- El recreo – free time
- Las fritas – Fried potatoes
- La posta – The truth
- Macanuda/o – perfect, of high quality, espectacular
- Forro/a – bad person, idiot, annoying
- Se flasheó – went crazy
- Laburo – day job, work
La tiene clarísima.
S/he knows a lot about it.
A vos te tengo.
I know who you are.
Haceme la segunda.
Really? / For real? / Is that the truth?
You’re really great! I hope you liked this copada lesson. But che, no da that you learn all these terms without practicing them later. If you want to sound like an authentic piba or pibe, be sure to solidify this knowledge. Join the 24,000 monthly active students and become part of the Homeschool Spanish Academy community today. Sign up for a free class to practice your conversation skills with a certified, Spanish-speaking teacher from Guatemala.
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