The Spanish of the Argentina


This week we write to you from Argentina, and in particular from Buenos Aires, a stunning country and a magnificent city.

We walked its streets, its most popular neighborhoods, and while we were delighted with the wonders of this city and its people, we learned a little more about the differences between the Spanish spoken in Argentina (rioplatense spanish) versus the Spanish spoken in Spain (castellano). And though it is still the same language, it is still difficult to understand each other between Spanish and Argentinians, especially if this is the first time that you visit this country.

Because sharing the same language doesn’t mean speaking the same way.

Buenos Aires has its own slang, lunfardo, which was created by a mixture of languages due to immigration in this country, especially Spanish and Italian. We can find it in popular Argentinian films, like “Nueve Reinas”. And, of course, in the lyrics of the Tango, which is the most internationally-identifying music of this country.

Words like:

Afanar: robar

Cana: policía

Mina: mujer

Pibe: chico

Piba: chica

Garufa: fiesta

Grela: mujer

Chapar: besar

Mango: dinero

Tamangos: zapatos

Morfar: comer

Yirar: andar, dar vueltas haciendo la calle (prostituirse)

Cinchar: dar fuerza, vigor, trabajo duro

Otario: hacerse el que no sabe nada cuando realmente sabe


Here you can find a lunfardo dictionary.

Yira Yira (256x640)

You can find all tangos and lyrics here, We recommend the ones from Enrique Cadícamo.

Let us now see some of the major differences between the Spanish spoken in Argentina (rioplatense) versus  the Spanish spoken in Spain (castellano):

1 – Personal pronouns, second persons:

The most recognizable difference for a Spanish person is the voseo, the Spaniards use tú to refer to the singular of the second person personal pronoun, while the rioplatense use vos.

Castellano:eres argentino.

Rioplatense: Vos sos español.

To refer to the plural of the second person, Spaniards use vosotros, while the rioplatense use ustedes (though in some areas of the South of Spain, in particular ours, Seville, this also commonly used).

Castellano: Vosotros sois argentinos.

Rioplatense: Ustedes son españoles.

2 – Usage and verb conjugations.

The conjugation of verbs of second persons due to this voseo, also undergoes important changes. The rioplatense remove the last – r to the infinitive and add an – s at the end of the word, by moving the stress to the last syllable:

Castellano: tú puedes hablar en rioplatense.

Rioplatense: vos podés hablar en castellano.

And unlike the Spanish from Spain, the rioplatense do not tend to use perfect tenses, only simple. In this way, the past perfect is replaced by simple past:

Castellano: Tú has visto un duende en el bosque.

Rioplatense: Vos viste un duende en el bosque.

In Argentinian Spanish, the use of the verbal periphrasis of future “going to + infinitive” is preferred, while in Spain the future tense is used in most cases.

Castellano: Te compraré un vestido.

Rioplatense: Te voy a comprar un vestido.

3 – The pronunciation. Accent.

The Seseo: River plater Spanish does not differentiate between – s and – z sounds, which is also found in Andalusia.

Castellano: zanahoria, zapatillas, zapatero

Rioplatense: sanahoria, sapatillas, sapatero.

And the most characteristic aspect, what distinguishes it the most with the Spanish from Spain and throughout Latin America, is the yeísmo, the pronunciation of the consonants – ll and -y are not differentiated, and both sound like -y or a softer version of the sound – ch.

Castellano: Lluvia, llama, llanto.

Rioplatense: yuvia, yama, yanto.

4 – The vocabulary.

As well as lunfardo, which is porteño (i.e. from Buenos Aires), differentiates as well from the rest of the country:
















Maletero del coche/baúl

Teléfono móvil/celular

Estadio de fútbol/cancha


Here you can also find an Argentinean dictionary that will teach you a bit more about this Spanish variant.

Now a few tips of the places you cannot miss if you are in Buenos Aires or plan to go to visit it:

-La Boca, very bright colored; the clothes hanging from window to window recalls the origin of this neighborhood, which is mostly from Italian, particularly Neapolitan, immigration.

-San Telmo, in the purest European style; if you walk one Sunday by its Darrego square you can find a great antique trail (market). And through the promenade of the Argentinian cartoons (comics) from Defensa to Belgrano, you can find the so-called home of the character Mafalda (there is a statue of her outside the door of this house).

-Parque Lezama, with its Russian church and its crafts market on Sundays.

-Avenida Corrientes, is full of theatres, cafés, and libraries, open until late in the evening. Walking around there at night is wonderful, and its theatres offer a very large variety of shows.

-Palermo (a good choice for accommodation). A huge park in which you can see a tribute to Argentinian and Spaniards poets (who eventually immigrated to this country), and a corner representing the María Luisa de Sevilla Park (ceramic and flora courtesy of the city of Seville to Buenos Aires).

-Plaza Serrano, full of bars. A good choice for going out at night.

-Plaza de Mayo, where you can find the Casa Rosada, the Cabildo and the Cathedral (where lie the remains of the great General San Martín, liberator of the country).

-Recoleta, on Sundays you can also find here a huge crafts market. In addition, you must pay a visit to the cemetery.

-Puerto Madero, very modern buildings, is a large modern business park. You can also find bars and restaurants.

And many others that we will be sharing with you, as we discover them.

And of course, don’t leave town without trying:

Un asado, un alfajor, unas facturas, unas medias lunas, unos bizcochitos de grasa o de manteca, unas pepitas, el dulce de leche, una pizza del Palacio de la pizza o en Las Cuartetas, una sandwichito de bondiola o un choripán en los carritos de la costanera sur, unas milanesas napolitanas con papas fritas o un buen plato de pasta fresca y, por supuesto, unos mates.


Hasta pronto


About the Author

Somos Alicia Duarte y Nuria Camacho, profesoras de español para extranjeros y apasionadas por la enseñanza. Nos encanta ayudar a personas interesadas en aprender español y guiarlos hacia sus objetivos.

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