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10 Words To Survive In Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a great place to come and learn Spanish, the weather is nice, the city is beautiful and there are so many things for you to do outside of the classroom to put what you have learned into practice. If you want to learn Spanish in Argentina you can check our website!

So if you are going to take to streets and practice talking with the Porteños, you should know that here the locals speak Castellano which is a style of Spanish unique to Argentina. Here is a rundown of 10 useful words (or phrases) that you might hear from the locals which will help you get by on the streets of Buenos Aires:

Ok, let´s start simple. Hola means hello and so you will hear and use this word all the time. For example “Hola, ¿como estás?” means “Hello, how are you?” and you can respond by saying “Muy bien gracias, ¿y vos?”.

This brings us to the second word which you are going to hear a lot. If you have studied Spanish before in any other countries in Latin America or in Spain, you may have learned to use ‘tu’ for the second person. Here are a whole different story and Argentinos use ‘vos’ for ‘you’. Argentinos will understand you if you use ‘tu’ but here everybody says vos (as in the example above. This also means that there is a completely different set of rules for conjugating verbs but verbs are fun right!? For example, instead of ‘tu puedes’, you will say ‘vos podés’ and so on…

Che is simply the Porteños’ equivalent of ‘hey’ or you could use it to talk to a friend in the same way you would say ‘man’, ‘pal’ or mate in English. Almost everybody says it but it is quite informal so best not to use it with someone that you might otherwise address as ‘usted’.

Buena onda
Buena onda literally means good wave and so this can be roughly translated to be used in the same was as good vibes. You can use this to describe someone or something for example if you really like someone and get along well with them you could say “…es muy buena onda”. Equally, you can describe something like a party for example as being ‘buena onda’.

Boludo or Boluda
Boludo is like a friendly term to call someone you know a fool or an idiot. This one can be used as an insult or a term of endearment and Porteños use it between friends all the time. You might even hear “Che, boludo” as a friendly hello amongst friends. Again, whilst this is not seen as offensive and is used by everybody, it is best to keep its use between friends or people you know quite well.

Chabon is the Argentinian equivalent of dude. So you can use it to address someone in a friendly way or you can use it to describe someone.

The word quilombo originally meant brothel in Argentina but these days it is only used to describe chaos, a mess, a disaster. You may hear “Que quilombo” when there is something going on in the street with a lot of people and traffic. Equally, you can use it for a messy situation where you are confused and don’t know what to do.

Copado is used to describe something or someone ‘cool’. This is an older word which is apparently ‘cool’ again.

This one is essential. A traditional Argentinian asado is not to be missed when visiting Buenos Aires. Put simply, an asado is a social event where everybody gets together and barbecues meat! It is a celebration of meat! And we already know that Argentina has some of the best beef in the world. So, because asados are regular social events, there is bound to be an expert in every family who knows how to cook the meat to perfection. Put this all together and you could be eating the best meat in the world cooked in the best possible way. If you have not been lucky enough to receive an invitation to an asado you can also try out the asados in the various parallels all over the city.

Wherever you go in the world, it is always useful to learn what the locals say when putting their glasses in the air and making a toast. Here we say ¡Salud! So now you know what to say when toasting with a lovely glass of Malbec or Fernet and cola.