Language in Argentina

Language in Argentina

Speaking Spanish in Argentina

¿Habla ingles? Language in Argentina

The official language in Argentina is Spanish and most people speak the particular Buenos Aires dialect known as Rioplatense Spanish. This has marked differences not just to European Spanish but to other dialects in South America, and so if you already speak some Spanish it can take a little bit of getting used to.

Argentinian Spanish English
Aji Peruvian Chilli Pepper
Anticuchos Beef-heart Kebabs
Barbaro! Great!
Boliche Dance club
Buen dia Hello
Che! Hey!
Cole Local Bus
Effectivo Cash
(una) Luca (a) 1000 Pesos
(un) Mango (1) Peso
(Yerba) Mate Herb tea
Melocoton Peach
Ni a ganchos! No way!
Onda Vibe
Panchetta Bacon
Pancho Hot Dog
Plata Money
Subte Tube / Metro

You don't need to speak any Spanish at all, as all our guides and representatives will speak excellent English, and you'll find English-speakers in most hotels and restaurants as well, but we'd recommend taking a dictionary or downloading a dictionary app to your phone (it can be really useful if there's something you particularly want to buy but a shop assistant doesn't speak any English) and a few words of Spanish are certainly always appreciated.

Pronunciation, Vocabulary and Grammar Differences

In terms of vocabulary and structure, Spanish in Argentina is very similar to the Spanish spoken in other parts of Latin America, except that in Argentina they use the 'vos' pronoun for the familiar 'you', instead of the tu which is used in most of South America. This has an entirely different set of verb endings and so if you're used to speaking Spanish in Spain or elsewhere in South America then it can cause a bit of confusion.

Pronunciation is also rather different in Argentina to other countries in South America, and in particular the way Argentinians pronounce the 'y' and 'll' sounds. While most Spanish-speakers pronounce these as a 'yuh' and a 'lyuh' sound, respectively (so tornillador comes out as either 'tor-nee-ya-dor' or possibly 'tor-nee-lya-dor') in Argentina it is pronounced as a 'sh' sound, eg: 'tor-nee-sha-dor'.

It's possible this pronunciation shift is down to the influence on Argentinian Spanish from the large-scale Italian immigration to the country (an estimated 1 million Argentinians speak Italian) - if you think of chiave (key) in Italian, the pronunciation of llave as "shee-ar-veh" makes more sense.

You'll also find a lot of Italian-ate slang words in Rioplatense Spanish that don't exist elsewhere, although due to the wide penetration of Argentinian TV in the rest of South America, these are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the continent.