All tangueros end up visiting Buenos Aires.

buenos aires Argentina
Once there the traveler not only has to fight with the heatwaves of Argentine summer but also has to get accustomed to the unique use of spanish language in Argentina.

This is what we discussed with Agnes , the popular “Spanish Without Borders” blog author. Agnes, a professional Spanish language teacher, shows us the unique characteristics of Argentinian Spanish in a simple and structured way. Keeping the following points in mind it will be much easier to understand lyrics of tango music. :)

Let’s see Agi’s guide to Argentinean spanish with pictures and illustrations!

Spanish in Argentina – “Do we speak the same language”?

spanyol argentinDuring my Spanish lessons I put a strong emphasis on explaining that Spanish taught at my class is Spanish as spoken in Spain – and mainly central Spain.

Why do I need to be so specific about this? Because Spanish, being the official language in more than a dozen countries, developed distinctly in each region thus resulting in a vocabulary, pronunciation and grammatical phenomena particular to that region.

Traveling to Argentina

So what happens when someone visits Argentina – say because they want to see the places where tango originates from? They are guaranteed to have some trouble with the language even if they were confident about their Spanish knowledge before the trip and they cannot be blamed for this. Spanish language developed sooo differently at this part of the world that it takes a while to get accustomed to its sound and understand what the conversation is about.

First of all, there is a phenomenon particular to the southern regions of Latin-America, especially Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.


The most common example is the use of „voseo” when “vos” is used in second-person familiar (you) instead of “tú”. A particular conjugation is used for voseo.


Vos sos argentino. = Tú eres argentino. (You are Argentinian.)
spanish vos boludo

No tenés mucho tiempo. = No tienes mucho tiempo. (You don’t have much time.)

Vos entendés todo. = Tú entiendes todo. (You understand everything.)

Overall we can say that the Argentinians prefer to use the “voseo” form, than the exact grammar.

Noun Tenses “left out”

Another Argentinian trait is leaving out particular nouns. An example is in the ‘pretérito perfecto’, or disregarding use of the present perfect. In place of that, the indefinite tense is used.

Hoy he trabajado mucho. – Hoy trabajé mucho.

The “going to” (ir a + infinitivo) use of future is not a favorite either, they use simple future (futuro Voy a salir esta noche. – Saldré esta noche.)

spanyol ragozásThe ‘imperativo’, or the Imperative

Once again upon hearing this style the question arises: what is this language that Argentinians speak? The imperative mood developed without any logic, and bears no resemblance to its Spanish roots.

Some examples – Spanish version is followed by Argentinean

pon – poné (do it)

come – comé (eat)

duerme – dormí (sleep)

cierra – cerrá (close it)

haz – hacé (do it)

…and the list goes on…


Argentinean vocabulary is also full of surprises, spanish jokeI’m telling you.

Some typical examples are as follows: First the original Spanish word, than its Argentinean variation:

deprisa – apurado (quick, hurry)

apartamento – departamento (flat)

falda – pollera (skirt)

bonito – lindo (pretty)

metro – subte (uderground railway)

zumo – jugo (fruit juice)

autobús – colectivo (bus)
If you are planning to visit Argentina, take some time preparing against these language difficulties.

Listening to / watching songs, movies, videos from Argentina (or Uruguay or Paraguay) is a good way to practice. You can also browse Argentine webpages, although language use in the press & papers is almost exactly the same as in Spain. The above explained differences are mainly related to the spoken language.

For english speaking readers:  here and here

Let’s go to Buenos Aires!