Language in Chile

Language in Chile

Speaking Spanish in Chile

¿Habla ingles? Language in Chile

The official language pf Chile is Spanish, although hundreds of thousands of Chileans speak indigenous languages such as Mapudungun. Some degree of English is spoken widely, particularly among younger people and in tourist areas, but it's still worthwhile taking a dictionary or downloading a dictionary app to your phone as it can be really useful in situations where you need something specific, but no English is spoken.

Chilean Spanish English
Bacan Great
Bistec Beef steak
Budin Pudding
Chau! Bye!
Chomba Jumper
Gallo Guy
Garua Drizzle
Guagua Baby, child
Jaibon Upper-class (high-born)
Mina Woman
Palta Avocado
Panqueque Pancake

Chilean Spanish is not hugely different to 'Spanish' Spanish, but has slightly different pronunciation and a vocabulary influenced by both indigenous languages and also the languages of the country's European immigrants. So, for example, a Chilean may well use "lukear" for "to look" instead of the more usual Spanish "mirar".

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but in the table here we've tried to capture some of the words and phrases which give Chilean Spanish it's unique characte.


Apart from a 'j' being prounounced like the 'ch' in 'loch', Chilean Spanish is very much pronounced as it's written, so if you see something written down, do just have a go. If you've picked up any Spanish on holidays in Europe then you'll find it works just as well in Chile, although you can drop the lisp: the letters 'c' and 'z' are both pronounced like the English 's'. You'll also find that Chileans routinely drop a final 's' from words: so 'somos' (we are) will just be pronounced 'somo'.

Chileans are always appreciative when people make the effort to speak Spanish, so even a few words can put a smile on your waiter's face or get you an appreciative grin from a taxi driver. We provide all our customers with a language guide, but if there's any particular Chilean Spanish vocabulary you'd like to learn then just let us know.

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