Learn How Shockingly Different Spanish Is In Argentina | OptiLingo (2023)

Spanish in Argentina isn’t the same as in the rest of the world. But, it’s truly wonderfully unique. If you’re learning Spanish, and you plan to visit Argentina, it’s crucial to know the differences to avoid embarrassment. Learn all about Spanish and Argentina, and what differences you need to look out for.

You might have already guessed that Spanish in Spain and Latin America are very different. But, the Spanish they speak in Argentina is even more so. There are key differences in pronunciation, conjugation, and vocabulary between Argentinian Spanish and the rest of Latin America. Not the mention the crucial social differences.

Discover the key differences to learn more about how amazing Spanish is in Argentina.

Learn How They Pronounce Spanish Words in Argentina

Argentinians have a unique way of pronouncing certain letters.

An example of this is the Argentine Spanish pronunciation of double ‘L’ in words such as “pollo” (chicken) and “bombilla” (light bulb). In the vast majority of Spanish accents, the pronunciation of the common double ‘L’ is a ‘y’ sound.

These words are, therefore, usually pronounced as “poy-yo” and “bom-bee-ya”. Instead, in Argentina, the pronunciation is “po-sho” and “bom-bisha”. This is a major difference between Spanish in Argentina and the rest of the world.

Intonation in Argentine Spanish vs. the Rest of the World

Spanish in Argentina has a different intonation. This kind of intonation is almost entirely unique in the Spanish-speaking world. The only other country where they speak Spanish like this is Uruguay.

In Argentina, the stress of the verb in several conjugated forms is placed on the last syllable of the verb, as opposed to the second-to-last syllable, (as is the case in most Spanish forms). This unique shift in intonation makes Argentinians noticeable in many other Spanish-speaking countries.

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You may wonder why Spanish in Argentina developed a different intonation. The main reason for this lies in the country’s history of immigration. Between 1870 to 1960, approximately two million Italians immigrated to Argentina, undoubtedly influencing and altering the accent of Spanish in Argentina.

This influx of Italians changed the demographics of Argentina for years to come. Today, over 30 million people in Argentina claim some kind of Italian heritage. That’s over 66% of the country’s population.

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Personal Pronouns in Argentina Are Different Than Spain

Before we dive into the conjugation differences between Spanish in Spain and Argentina, you need to learn about this crucial difference.

In Spain, the second person singular (you) pronoun is “tú”. In fact, “tú” is the most common second person singular pronoun in most of the Spanish-speaking world. The only places where this is different is Uruguay, Central America, and Argentina. In Argentine Spanish, the word for “you” is “vos”.

Similarly, in Spain, the second person plural (you plural) pronoun is “vosotros”. Meanwhile, in Latin America, plural you is “ustedes”. So, in Argentina, it’s also “ustedes”.

Argentinian Spanish Conjugation Is Different

When conjugating ‘you’ in the singular form, Argentinians stress the final syllable, placing an accent on the last ‘a’ for AR verbs, the last ‘e’ for ER verbs, and the last ‘i’ for IR verbs. For example:

  • AR: ‘tú hablas’ (you speak) becomes ‘vos hablás’
  • ER: ‘tú comes’ (you eat) becomes ‘vos comés
  • IR: ‘tú vives’ (you live) become ‘vos vivís

This also changes the pronunciation of the verb quite remarkably.

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Fortunately, if you learn Spanish in Argentina, you won’t have to worry about stem-changing verbs in the ‘you’ singular form. For example, look how Argentine Spanish conjugates these common verbs that are usually stem-changing in the rest of the world:

  • AR: ‘tú encuentras’ (you find, from the verb encontrar) becomes ‘vos encontrás
  • ER: ‘tú tienes’ (you have, from the verb tener) becomes ‘vos tenés
  • IR: ‘tú vienes’ (you come, from the verb venir) becomes ‘vos venís

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Learn Spanish Slang in Argentina

Of course, every country has its own set of national and regional colloquialisms. It’s no surprise that Argentina is no exception to this rule.If you spend time in Argentina, you’ll definitely learn a lot of new Spanish slang from the locals.

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The two most importantly universal Argentine Spanish slang words you need to learn are “che” and “boludo“.

Argentinians use “che” as a way to grab someone’s attention. Just like “hey” in English. You’re welcome to use it just like that:

  • Che, pasáme la cuchara! – Hey, pass me the spoon!

“Boludo” is a common Argentine, but it’s a little bit less common as “che”. It’s literal translation would be “big-balled person”, which could be insulting without context!

But, Argentinians use “boludo” amongst friends. Just like Americans say “dude”, or British people say “mate”.

Learn Lunfardo to Understand Slang in Spanish in Argentina

Another element of the Spanish language entirely unique to Argentina (and parts of Uruguay) is “lunfardo“. This is a type of slang that you need to learn if you speak Spanish in Argentina. It’s also sometimes called the “dirty” slang in Argentina.

Originally, lunfardo was a way for 19th-century working-class people to make up new words. They rearranged the letters of common words to create their own slang.

For example, the word for coffee in Spanish is “café”. But, it became “feca” in lunfardo. The word for doctor in Spanish is also “doctor”, but in lunfardo it’s “tordo”. And the verb “pagar” (to pay) is “garpar”.

Although lunfardo was local to the Buenos Aires region in Argentina, certain words are common throughout the country. This gives you a taste of the country’s rich and diverse linguistic history. Still, you should learn a bit of lunfardo to understand Spanish in Argentina.

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The Unique Vocabulary of Spanish in Argentina

Argentinians have developed a unique set of words for specific objects. These aren’t like slang and local colloquialisms. These words are well and truly embedded into Spanish in Argentina, and you should definitely learn them if you’re there.

For example, in most countries, the word for ‘T-shirt’ is ‘camiseta’. In Argentina, they use ‘remera’. Another example is the word for ‘car.’ In Spain, it’s ‘coche’, while many other Latin American countries use the word ‘carro’. But, Spanish is Argentina is different. Instead of either, Argentinians use the word ‘auto’ for ‘car’.

The same is true for food, particularly fruit and vegetables. Here are some examples of how the vocabulary for fruits differs between Argentina and the rest of the Spanish-speaking world.

  • pineapples: piñas’ in Spain, ‘ananás‘ in Argentina
  • strawberries: ‘fresas‘ in Spain, ‘frutillas’ in Argentina (pronounced fru-tishas)
  • avocados: ‘aguacates’ in Spain, ‘paltas’ in Argentina
  • peaches: ‘melocotones’ in Spain, ‘duraznos’ in Argentina

These are just a few examples, but the list of Argentine Spanish vocabulary unique to the countries dialect is extensive.

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Hand Gestures Are Important in Argentina

Learning a language is so much more than learning vocabulary and grammar. Sometimes, you also have to learn about the culture. Hand gestures in Argentina are crucial. Argentinians are very expressive people and tend to talk with their hands. Much like the vocabulary they use, the gestures which accompany them are also unique.

For example, you can accompany the phrase ‘I don’t know’ by scratching the underside of your chin and then extending your arm. Also, you need to keep your thumb and index finger together.

Here’s another example of expressive and nationally understood body language. If you point to one eye and pull down your lower eyelid using an index finger., you’re saying ‘watch out’ or ‘keep a lookout’. People in Argentina often use this gesture in dangerous situations.

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Learn Spanish in Argentina

The intonation, the vocabulary, and the grammar all have their unique versions in Argentine Spanish. But, this isn’t a bad thing. It really comes to show how special and diverse Spanish in Argentina is.

If you are fortunate enough to spend time in Argentina, then enjoy the variations of Spanish you will come across whilst doing so. Understanding national and regional colloquialisms will make your life a lot easier when talking with locals, it will help you integrate faster, and explore the country like an Argentinian.

But, you definitely need to learn Spanish before you get to Argentina. Use the OptiLingo app to learn Spanish effectively!


How different is Spanish in Argentina? ›

Argentine Spanish differs from all other varieties of Spanish in numerous ways. This is due to its unique and extensive range of dialects, vocabulary, grammar, slang, and intonation.

Is it hard to learn Spanish in Argentina? ›

There are definite pros and cons to studying Spanish in Argentina. No matter how much Spanish you have studied before going to Argentina, you will be confused for the first few weeks. Argentine Castellano is among the most difficult Spanish dialects, and its vocabulary and grammar are unique to Argentina.

Does Argentinian Spanish sound different? ›

The first thing most people will notice about Argentinian Spanish is the particular intonation of the language. It's not spoken with the same rhythm and pitch modulation as, for example, Mexican Spanish. The intonation is much more lilting and almost sing-song in nature.

How do you say OK in Argentina? ›

The word “dale” in Argentina is used to say “ok”. So if someone asks you something and you want to say yes, just say “dale”.

What do Argentines call Spanish? ›

The Argentine Accent and Pronunciation

Argentines call their Spanish 'Castellano' (Castilian) – specifying its regional roots in Castilla, Spain.

Can you live in Argentina without knowing Spanish? ›

Finding people who speak English in Argentina won't be an easy task. This is especially true if you travel to smaller, more rural areas. Though Buenos Aires is a big city with a higher chance of people understanding basic English, it would still be advisable to know some basic Spanish.

What country is easiest to learn Spanish in? ›

Seven of the best places to learn Spanish around the world, from Guatemala to Granada
  1. Medellín, Colombia. Colombia claims to have the clearest Spanish accent in the world, making it ideal for beginners. ...
  2. Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. ...
  3. Salamanca, Spain. ...
  4. Quito, Ecuador. ...
  5. Cusco, Peru. ...
  6. Heredia, Costa Rica. ...
  7. Granada, Spain.
28 May 2022

What are the top 3 languages spoken in Argentina? ›

While Spanish is the dominant language in Argentina, there are many other languages spoken in Argentina. They include Italian (second most spoken language in Argentina), Quechua (mainly spoken by Bolivian immigrants who settled in Northern Argentina) and Guaraní (mainly spoken in the province of Corrientes).

How do you say pineapple in Argentina? ›

Piña (pineapple) becomes ananá, aguacate (avocado) is palta and melocotón (peach) is durazno.

How is the double L pronounced in Argentina? ›

In much of the Spanish-speaking Americas, and in many regions of Spain, ⟨ll⟩ is produced /ʝ/ (voiced palatal fricative); in Colombia and Tabasco, Mexico, as well as Rioplatense speakers in both Argentina and Uruguay, pronounce ll as /ʒ/ (voiced postalveolar fricative) or /ʃ/ (voiceless postalveolar fricative).

Why do Argentines talk like that? ›

The Spaniards brought their language to the country when they arrived to Argentina in 1536, and Spanish became widely spoken in the centuries that followed. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, large waves of European immigration to Argentina had a strong impact on the local way of speaking.

How do Argentines say beautiful? ›

Lindo/linda is more common in Latin America than Spain (and is also very common in Brazilian Portuguese). It's similar in meaning to bonito/bonita: it can mean “beautiful”, “pretty”, “lovely”, or “nice”. In Latin America you can also use lindo as an adverb. For example, ella canta lindo means “she sings beautifully.”

What does Opa mean in Argentina? ›

opa [m/f] BO AR UY derog. dumb person. 10. Colloquial.

How do you say beer in Argentina? ›

BIRRA = BEER (noun)

¿Vamos a tomar una birra? Wanna go get a beer? Argentine Spanish's Italian influence shows through in this one again (“birra” is beer in Italian, and like other aspects of Argentine culture, the word comes from there).

How do you say what's up in Argentina? ›

Che. Che is 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”.

How do you say yo in Argentina? ›

Another particularity of Argentine Spanish, and why it has its 'sexy' reputation is that 'y' and 'll' are pronounced 'shh,' or 'Zh' (depending on the area). So 'yo' sounds like 'sho,' 'calle' sounds like 'kayshe,' and 'te llamo cuando llego' sounds like, 'te shamo cuando shego.

What is considered disrespectful in Argentina? ›

Most Argentines eat with a knife in the right hand and a fork in the left hand. Using a toothpick in public is considered bad manners. Blowing one's nose or clearing one's throat at the table is also considered poor manners. Eating on public transport is seen as poor etiquette.

What can you not say in Argentina? ›

10 Things Not to Say While in Buenos Aires
  • #1: “I don't eat red meat” ...
  • #2: Tengo mierda.
  • Miedo = fear, but mierda? ...
  • #4: Soy Americano. ...
  • #5: “I hate how it's so dirty here/the food is so tasteless/there's no Wal-Mart… ...
  • #6: Voy a coger un taxi. ...
  • #7: “I don't like staying out late” ...
  • #8: Me gusta Juan/María.
22 Jan 2010

Is Argentina friendly to foreigners? ›

Foreigners can easily live in Argentina. In fact, Argentina is one of the most friendly countries for expats. People from dozens of countries can enjoy visa-free stays for up to 90 days. For people wanting to call this South American wonderland home, there are plenty of visa options.

Where is the purest Spanish spoken? ›

If you're looking to learn the purest Spanish, Mexico is the place to go. It has all the grammar conventions from the Spaniards, but with the clear enunciation of indigenous languages.

Who speaks the clearest Spanish? ›

Two countries which are recognized for a clearly spoken, standardized accent are Colombia and Costa Rica; while there are indigenous languages spoken by some citizens, the primary language is Spanish.

What is the hardest part of Spanish to learn? ›


This might be one of the hardest things to get. After being bombarded with tens of new tenses (in the indicative), you learn there's a whole other dimension of tenses called the subjuntivo.

Why do Argentines speak Spanish differently? ›

You may wonder why Spanish in Argentina developed a different intonation. The main reason for this lies in the country's history of immigration. Between 1870 to 1960, approximately two million Italians immigrated to Argentina, undoubtedly influencing and altering the accent of Spanish in Argentina.

Can you speak English in Argentina? ›

While Argentina's official language is Spanish, Argentina has enjoyed so much international migration that Arabic, Italian, German, English, and French are also spoken—at least in pockets throughout the country.

Is Argentina good at English? ›

Argentina scored 556 out of a maximum of 800 points in the English Proficiency Index 2021. That was the highest score among all Latin American countries included in the survey.

What does Changa mean in Argentina? ›

Noun. changa f (plural changas) small job; odd job. job of a porter. part-time job (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay)

How do you say my love in Argentina? ›

What is this? To call someone “my love” in Spanish, you can say mi amor.

How do you say condoms in Argentina? ›

But in an Argentine bedroom, forro usually refers to a "condom," as it does in this line from the show Disputas.

Why do Argentinians say re? ›

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.

What does Barbaro mean in Argentina? ›

bárbaro: great, cool.

How does Argentina say bus? ›

There are many words in Spanish to describe a bus. In Argentina, instead of 'colectivo', you can also say 'bondi'. Argentines use this word all the time.

Are Argentinians touchy? ›

Physical Contact: It is common for Argentines to be quite tactile as they communicate.

Do Argentines kiss? ›

1. Greetings. Kissing on the cheek when greeting hello and goodbye is part of Argentine culture. When Argentines enter a room, every single person, stranger or family, receives one kiss on the right cheek.

What is a common phrase in Argentina? ›

Boludo. 'Boludo' is often heard following 'che,' such as “Che, boludo!” Together they mean, “Hey, man!” but by itself boludo can be a term of endearment or an insult, depending on how it is applied. When used with friends, it is an amicable term, and can be thrown in at the start of end of any sentence.

Is Argentinian Spanish the same as Spanish? ›

You might have already guessed that Spanish in Spain and Latin America are very different. But, the Spanish they speak in Argentina is even more so. There are key differences in pronunciation, conjugation, and vocabulary between Argentinian Spanish and the rest of Latin America.

Is South American Spanish different to normal Spanish? ›

The only major difference comes from personal pronouns and related verb conjugations -- with vosotros (you all) being predominantly used in Spain, and ustedes more common in Latin America.

Are Argentinians of Spanish descent? ›

Since a great portion of the immigrants to Argentina before the mid-19th century were of Spanish descent, and a significant part of the late-19th century/early-20th century immigrants to Argentina were Spaniards, the large majority of Argentines are at least partly of Spanish ancestry.

What race is an Argentinian? ›

European (mostly Spanish and Italian descent) and mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian ancestry) 97.2%, Amerindian 2.4%, African 0.4% (2010 est.)

What was Argentina called before the Spanish? ›

On July 9, 1816, Argentina was declared an independent country under the name of United Provinces of the Río de la Plata.

Which Latin country speaks the best Spanish? ›

Tied with Mexico for the purest Spanish in Latin America, Colombia is an obvious choice for the best Spanish speaking country for language study.

Which Spanish is easiest to learn? ›

There isn't one version of Spanish that is easier or harder to learn than another. While the accents and dialects vary from place to place, you can still understand most of what people are saying, regardless of which Spanish you've learnt.

Can Spaniards understand Latin American Spanish? ›

While there are distinctions between the varieties of Spanish, the first thing to make clear is that Spanish speakers can all understand each other, whether in Cadiz or Cusco, Salamanca or Santo Domingo. It's like an American speaking English with a Brit and an Australian… they get each other.

What are the top 3 ethnicities in Argentina? ›

Argentina Demographics
Nationality AdjectiveArgentine
Ethnic GroupsWhite (mostly Spanish and Italian) 97%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry), Amerindian, or other non-white groups 3%
Languages SpokenSpanish (official), Italian, English, German, French, indigenous (Mapudungun, Quechua)
5 more rows

Who lived in Argentina before the Spanish? ›

Argentina - History & Culture. Along with numerous nomadic tribespeople, two main indigenous groups existed in Argentina before the European arrival. In the northwest, near Bolivia and the Andes, was a people known as the Diaguita, while further south and to the east were the Guarani.

Are people in Argentina Caucasian? ›

Argentina is a predominantly European descent country, and prides itself on its Spanish and Italian roots. Unlike many other Latin American countries, 97% of Argentina's population is White. Amerindians make up 2.4% of the population and only . 4% are Afro-Argentine, the lowest of all Latin American countries.


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