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Mastering the Argentine dialect

Argentine vocab is characterized as being informal and politically incorrect. This is not to say that there aren´t circumstaces where a more formal discourse is utilized. Argentine´s are a very proud people, but there is certainly a difference between being proud and cocky. That being said, if you try and discuss Argentine soccer or the best cuisine they will certainly not hesitate to argue their superiority.

In order to master Argentine Spanish there are two important aspects that are particularly unique. These aspects are the ¨Vos¨form used instead of the ¨Tu¨ form and a particular pronunciation change that can be hard to understand if you are not sure what to listen for. The ¨Vos¨ used in Argentina is known as Rio Platense form of Castellano Spanish. The changes that occur with this form are in the simple present as well as commands for some verbs. Vos takes the place of the tu pronoun and is not to be confused with the Vosotros form used in areas such as Spain. The pronunciation change specifically is notable with the letter ll. Instead of the more commonly pronounced ll as an English y, here in Argentina the ll is pronounced with a sh sound such as that in show.






Ser – (to be)

Vos sos

Tu eres


Estar – (to be)

Vos estás

Tu estás


caminar – (to walk)

Vos caminás

Tu caminas


Tener – (to have)

Vos tenés

Tu tienes


Querer – (to want)

Vos querés

Tu quieres


Subir – (to go up)

Vos subís

Tu subes


Venir – (to come)

Vos venís

Tu vienes


Pensar – (to think)

Vos penás

Tu piensas


Decir – (to say)

Vos decís

Tu dices


Contar – (to tell, count)

Vos contás

Tu cuentas


Table extracted from ¡Che Boludo! By James Bracken p.11

Useful Argentine slang (lunfardo)

– Afano – theft

– balurdo – lie

– chabón – guy

– chamuyero – smooth talker

– che – hey

– copado/a – cool (person, object, etc)

– cortado – espresso with milk

– fiaca – tired, to feel the inability/motivation to do anything

– guita – money

– dopado – drugged

– encurdarse – to get drunk

– mina – lady

– mozzarella – silence

– onda – vibes; de onda – to do a favor

– pilas – literally batteries but used as energy of a person; ponete las pilas – do your best or sacate las pilas – relax, chill out

– piola – clever

– opa – idiot

*Boludo/a – literally large testicles. Is used for both sexes and amongst children as well. Intended to mean – fool or idiot.

– Che boludo – definition depends on usage. Amongst friends can mean hey buddy to hey idiot or asshole when used with strangers.

– Hacerse el boludo – to play dumb

– boludez – anything trivial or that comes with ease.

– Buenudo/a – dumb-witted friend


Expanish student:David, 21
From Long Island, NY

David chose to travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina to investigate his heritage. David´s father was born in Buenos Aires and he has come to see if this city will live up the hype he has heard so much about. For David the most difficult part of learning Spanish has been corresponding the proper pronouns and confusion of tenses.

Expanish student:Lina, 26
From: Norway

Cultural aspects such as the language, tango, and the food have brought Lina to Buenos Aires. The aspects of Argentine dialect such as pronunciation and local vocabulary have been the main obstacles for Lina.