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Why Argentina is a Great Place to Improve Your Spanish

With it's charming capital, Buenos Aires, and a range of stunning natural wonders, it's no wonder Argentina is such a popular destination for people interested in having a life experience.

Audrey Smith
Audrey Smith
Why Argentina is a Great Place to Improve Your Spanish

Have you ever dreamed of travelling to South America? If so, then Argentina should definitely be at the top of your list of study abroad destinations. It is a country that has so much to offer, from the culturally-rich capital Buenos Aires (known as the "Paris of the South" to the majestic Andean mountains and mystical landscapes of the Pampas and Patagonian. It's hard to think of a better backdrop for connecting with South American culture.

What kind of Spanish is spoken in Argentina?

Argentina is a vast country and includes a range of dialects and accents within its borders. However, it's the Spanish of Buenos Aires, which is known as the “Rioplatense” dialect, that is most commonly associated with Argentina. It is different from the Spanish that is spoken in other parts of Latin America and Spain, but of course it is easily understood across the Spanish-speaking world.

The unique "porteño" accent is largely a result of mass immigration from different European countries, which influenced the evolution of the local language. The Buenos Aires accent has a very distinct sound: for example, the soft “y” is pronounced “sh” in Buenos Aires. So instead of saying “caye” when describing a street (calle), you would say “cashe”. Students at Expanish Buenos Aires will quickly become accustomed to hearing this accent through listening to our local teachers.

Another defining characteristic of Argentine Spanish is the use of slang, which can refer to modern day slang or the traditional Lunfardo. To break it down for you, Lunfardo is the street slang that was created by working class residents of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century. Traditionally, Lunfardo is created by using “vesre”, or reversing the order of words. For example, “café con leche” (coffee with milk) becomes “feca con chele”, “pizza” becomes “zapi”, “perro” (dog) becomes “rope”, “mujer” (woman) becomes “jermu”, and so on.

Lunfardo should not be confused with modern day slang though, which refers to the informal words that have found their way into day-to-day conversations between friends, but are less common in written Spanish. Argentine slang is extremely common, and can be heard from the moment you step off the plane.

Colourful houses in La Boca
Colourful houses in La Boca, Buenos Aires.

10 Words You Need to Know in Buenos Aires

To help you navigate the confusing world of slang, we’ve compiled a list of the ten most common Argentine slang words that you’ll definitely hear if you come to Buenos Aires. Think of it as a quick introductory lesson, but here at Expanish our local teachers can offer a one-of-a-kind experience getting you quickly up to speed with the authentic Porteño accent and slang.


Che is probably the most common Argentine slang word, used on a daily basis to grab someone’s attention. It’s the equivalent of saying “Hey” or “What’s up?” in the US.


"Che, ¿me pasas la sal?" — Hey, can you pass me the salt? 

"¿Che, cómo andás?" – Hey, how are you?


Boludo can be understood as “dude” when used among friends. However, it can also be used to insult someone you don't know well, like calling them an idiot or fool. You'll hear it a lot in Buenos Aires, but be careful how you use it!


"¡Che, boludo!" – Hey, dude!

"Dale, boludo, vamos!" - Come on, dude, let´s go!

Chabón/chabona (feminine)

Chabón is an informal way to say "dude", or "guy". And "dudette" is the female version (chabona).


¡El chabón me ofendió! – That dude offended me!

Mirá el chabón ese - Check out that guy.


Mango is used as a slang way to say money, referring to Argentine Pesos.


Cuesta cien mangos. – It costs one hundred pesos.

No tengo un mango. – I don’t have a single peso.


Quilombo means mess, or chaos. It is often used to describe chaotic situations.


¡Que quilombo es el tránsito en Buenos Aires! – The traffic in Buenos Aires is so chaotic! 

¡Que quilombo la casa! – The house is a mess!


The literal translation of pedo is a fart, but it has a plethora of meanings when used as a slang word. “Ni en pedo” (“Hell no”) is probably the most common usage, but there are A LOT.


Vives en una nube de pedos. –You live in a dream world. 

Estás en pedo. – You are drunk.

Hablás al pedo. – You’re talking trash.


Fiaca refers to laziness, or when someone feels like doing absolutely nothing.


Todo el día he tenido fiaca. – I’ve been feeling lazy all day long.

Me da fiaca ir hasta allá - I can't be bothered to go all the way there.


“Pibe” and “Mina” are colloquial terms to say boy and girl in Argentina, and they are most commonly used to describe someone who is slightly immature.


¡Che, pibe! – Hey, boy! 

¡Que linda mina! –What a pretty girl!

A full

A full means “absolutely”, “totally”, “a lot”, “to the maximum”.


¡Si, vamos a full a la fiesta! –Yes, we’re totally going to the party! 

¿Cómo fue la fiesta? A full, che. – How was the party? It was packed, man.

Buena Onda

Buena Onda literally means good wave, and is the term used to describe “good vibes”. It is used to describe people, places, or the atmosphere of something, so you’ll always want to make sure you have a “buena onda”.


Tu amigo tiene muy buena onda. –Your friend is really cool.

Este lugar tiene buena onda - This place has a cool vibe.

Learning Argentine slang or Lunfardo is a fun and interesting experience. Whether it be through group classes or private lessons, Expanish’s local teachers. Find out more about our Buenos Aires school or get in touch with us here.

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