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Stay safe in Buenos Aires

14 tips for tangueros to stay safe in Buenos Aires (2019)

“Is it safe for me to go to Buenos Aires for tango?” It is a question that I’ve been frequently asked, especially by girls who are thinking about going to Argentina alone to dance.

We tangueros (tango dancers) have all reasons to visit Buenos Aires at least once in our lifetime: to experience the authentic tango culture and understand its history; to dance in a milonga porteña (a milonga in Buenos Aires); to learn from an old tango master who don’t travel outside Argentina; and to enjoy the endless selection of tango clothes and shoes at prices which are great bargains compared to that in our home.

For tangueros who worry about the safety traveling in Argentina, their concern is actually grounded—due to volatile economy and skyrocket inflation rate, petty crimes are prevalent in the city. However, by always be watchful and act with extra caution, it’s still possible for us to have a safe trip in Buenos Aires and enjoy the most tango out of it.

Here’s are my top fourteen tips to help you stay safe in Buenos Aires, based on my two previous trips to Argentina I made on my own. I have divided the list into 2 parts: the first ten tips apply to every tourist, and the eleventh to fourteenth tips are specific for tangueros.  


General tips for everybody to stay safe in Buenos Aires


1. Learn some Spanish before going to Buenos Aires

Learning a new language is always time and pain-taking but this is guaranteed to worth the effort. Nothing will show more a tourist of you than walking into a place and speak only in English. Even you speak only a few keywords, that will distinguish you to be “in the know” from being a total novice and reducing your chance of becoming a victim of a scam.

There are many ways you can learn Spanish, but the most effective way is to take online class with Argentinian Spanish teachers before traveling to the country, who will teach you not only the survival Spanish you’d need but also enlighten you on the culture of the country. You will also establish a local contest who you can contact for help in the city.


2. Observe how locals speak and behave

This is an action which has been very helpful in all my previous solo girl travel: in my first few days in a new city I’d keenly observe the locals wherever I go: in the restaurants or cafe, supermarket and subte (metro), how they interact and behave, and what are the words they use in their conversation. I spent extensive time learning Spanish in Spain and have been to Italy. Although the two European countries share a lot of similarity with Argentina, the Argentinians speak in a particular ascent and have their own set of vocabulary different from that of Spain, and they have behavior slightly distinct from Italians. Observing and mimicking the behavior of the locals and the way they speak help a lot in fitting in the crowd and be seen as someone who has been around for a while rather than a tourist who’s new to the place.


3. Avoid flashy outfits, watch and jewelry

I know it’s obvious and of common sense but please keep your Rolex and flashy jewelry in the safe before taking your flight to Argentina.

It’s always good to dress modest so you can fit in rather than standing out of the crowd when you are in a foreign country.


4. Take Uber/taxi when traveling at night in Buenos Aires

I’m a tango visitor and it means I’d need to go out a lot in late nights and return home in early mornings, and I’d usually take Uber or taxi when I’m traveling at night. While it may still be safe to travel by subte (metro) before 10pm while there are still many passengers and movement on the street, it’s better to stay on the safe side and take a Uber or taxi later at night.

While taxi is generally safe, I’d prefer Uber as I’d know the fare and the information of the driver before the trip, and this reduces my chance of falling into a taxi scam. There’s one thing you’d need to know when taking a Uber—sit next to the driver, if possible. When Uber started its service in Buenos Aires, some taxi drivers saw Uber as a threat which take away their business and were hostile and violent to Uber drivers. If you sit next to the Uber driver, it would be less easy for taxi drivers to identify the vehicle as a Uber.

If you need to flag down a taxi on the street, look for those with the sign “Radio taxi” on the door. Those taxis are managed by the Radio Taxi company and are safer to take.


5. Stay in a safe neighborhood

For solo travelers, especially ladies, it’d be important for them to stay in a safe neighborhood where they’d feel secure even they’d need to go out and return in late nights. One neighborhood recommended is Palermo which is a middle-class area and safe area. Recoleta is another high-end and secure neighborhood.

Try not to stay in Congreso area as most protests happen in that area. Protest is a norm in the city because of the many social and economic problems in the country. Whenever a protest happen the area would be crowded with protestor, streets may be blockaded and public transport disrupted. Sometimes towards the end of the demonstration things might get violent.

The La Boca area is a touristy place where is infamous for thieves and not recommended for staying.


6. Bring only the cash you need

It’s always good to have a rough estimate of how much money you’d need to spend on that day and bring only a little extra of that amount. You’d have the peace of mind knowing most of your money are safe-kept in your own place.

Most restaurants, shops and supermarkets in the city are accepting credit cards now, so you may take your credit card with you if you prefer not to bring a load of cash. Many places would ask for your documento (document) to check your identity, and they would accept your national identity card or driver license, so you can also safe-keep your passport in your place.

Many shops would still prefer cash and they would offer a discount if you pay with efectivo (cash), sometimes the discount can be hefty. What I’d do if I run out of cash is to negotiate a partial discount for the part which I pay in cash, and pay the rest in credit card; or I’d put down a deposit and ask the owner the keep my things for me, return later to pay the rest and pick my things up (usually on the way back to my place). I prefer the latter approach as I can take full advantage of the cash discount and I’d not need to carry my expensive shopping to the next distinction and risk losing them.


7. Use a traveler wallet

I’d avoid putting money in the bag I carry, instead I put the bulk of my money and credit card in a traveler wallet which goes under my clothes. Even if my bag is stolen or being snatched off on the street, I’d be able to safeguard my valuable. I’d put some money in the pocket of my jacket for small purchases so I don’t need to fumble for the wallet and expose it in the public.


8. Avoid using your cell phone on the road

Put your phone away when you are walking on the streets in Buenos Aires, especially when you are walking closer to the road. People get distracted when they are using their phone and easily fall prey to crimes. Two friends of mine had their phones snatched off by motorcyclists when they were texting on the street. If you need to use your phone to make a call or find direction, better do it inside or at least by the door of a shop or a cafe.


9. Stay away quiet streets at night

This may seem obvious but worth mentioning—avoid walking on quiet streets at night. Try to stay on avenidas (avenues) where there are more movement. For major avenida such as Avenida Corrientes, it would be safe to travel on even in late night as it’s known as “the street that never sleeps”.



10. Do not resist if you run into a robbery

If you unfortunately encounter robbery, do not resist and fight as the robber may be armed and get violent. Monetary lost is better than personal injury.

If the robber say “Dame todo” (Give me everything), give the robber your valuable. Report to the tourist police afterwards and get a report for filing for travel insurance for reimbursement after you’ve returned to your home country.


Buenos Aires Tourist Police Office

Buenos Aires has a tourist police office (near Subte station “Florida”) where you can find English-speaking police officers to report any crime you run into and ask for help.

Comisaría del Turista (Tourist police office) (24hrs)

Address: Reconquista, 1003 Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Phone: +548009995000



Specific tips for tango visitors to stay safe in Buenos Aires


11. Bring only the necessity to milonga

When you are going to milonga, bring only the items that are necessary—the shoes, the clothes for changing, money for ticket and food and drink (In Buenos Aires milonga, food and drink are not included in the ticket, and you’d need to order separately from the bar), and the cell phone. You’d need to leave your belongings at your seat while you are out for dancing. It’s especially tricky for ladies who don’t usually have a pocket in their clothes. It’s difficult for them to use a traveler wallet as the dresses are usually tight-fit and anything underneath is easily shown.

So bringing fewer items would minimize the risk of losing them in case there’s a thief in the milonga.  


12. Keep your valuable at guardarropa (cloakroom)

While it’s generally safe inside the milonga as there’s someone guarding the door and people would need to pay their ticket to get in, milonga such as La Virtua would open its door after 3am for free entry, there would be no guard at the door and people can come and go as they please, so it would be risky for you to leave your belonging at your seat unattended, especially when you go out to dance.

In La Viruta there’s a guardarropa where you can keep your bag for a small fee, which will give you a peace of mind when you are dancing.


13.  Use the taxi/remise recommended by the milonga organizer

Many milonga organizers would have contact of taxi/remise (private car which take passengers for a price) drivers who work with them and are trustworthy. You can ask the organizer to call one for you if you have difficulty getting a taxi/Uber. Organizers are usually friendly and willing to help foreign tango visitors.


14. Do not carry your tango shoe bags on the street

This is a piece of advice from my Argentine tango teacher. Many tango shoes would come with a bag with a strap. Carry it on your shoulder and walk around the city shouts to people you are a rich tango tourist, which makes you an easy victim for crime. It’s better to put it inside your bag or better put it in a grocery bag and pretend you are just out for grocery shopping when you are on the way to dance.


Follow these 14 tips and have fun dancing in Buenos Aires!


Like our blog post and want to read more? Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss our posts (plus you can find a load of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!)

Want more Spanish practice? You can book a 30-minute trial class for only USD7 with our Tango Spanish teachers who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires!

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our books Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips and Tango Spanish: Essential Phrase Book For Tango Class (And Language Guide for Tango Shoe Shopping).

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel TipsTango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class


Spanish words Tango

20 most common Spanish words in tango, explained

20 most common Spanish words in tango, explained

For us the non-native-Spanish speaking tangueros, learning Spanish for tango seems to be a daunting task. The belief we will need to learn a ton of new vocabulary before we’d understand the lyrics is overwhelming and often holds us back from learning Spanish.

The process in fact simpler than you thought! GOOD NEWS:

You will only need to learn the 20 most common Spanish words in tango to start understanding the lyrics.

Thank to the study by Hernán J. González, who has ran an analysis of 13314 words extracted from 765 tango songs and come up with a list of most common Spanish words in tango. You can read his article here.

In this post we will explain the 20 most common Spanish words in tango, plus an example of how they form a part of the song. Given the prevalence of these Spanish words in the tango world, by learning just these 20 Spanish words in tango you’ll make a great leap in understanding tango lyrics, and get a first feeling of what the tango is about when you catch these words in the song!

Without further ado, here’s the list of the most popular Spanish words in tango and their explanation, and examples of songs that contain the word (and link to the song for you to listen):


1. Amor

Amor (love) ranks the top of the list, which shouldn’t be a surprise for us.

We can easily find the Spanish word Amor in the name and also as in the lyrics of many tangos. One example would be the song Todo es amor (It’s all love), which the lyrics, as implied by the name of the song, is all about amor:

Todo es amor,

(It’s all love,)

la brisa y tú

(the breeze and you)

jugando en el rumor,

(rejoicing in its murmur,)

y el ruiseñor

(and the nightingale)

cantando en una flor

(singing upon a flower)

buscando amor, amor…

(searching for love, love…)


2. Corazón

Corazón (heart) ranks second on the list, which perhaps again not a surprise. How can one love without a corazón?

We can find “corazón” in the song “Pocas palabras” (Few words):

Después de tanto vuelvo a hallarte

(After so long, I find you again,)

y que emoción siento al mirarte,

(I feel so much emotion as I look at you,)

siento un loco palpitar en mi viejo corazón...

(I feel my heart pounding like crazy...)


3. Vida

Tango talks about life all the time, so it’s natural that Vida (life) would rank third on the list. There is a load of tangos dealing with life which we can tell straight from their names:  La vida es corta (The life is short); Cómo nos cambia la vida (How the life changes us) and some song writers even go about mirroring tango to life in songs such as  La vida es una milonga (The life is a milonga).


4. Noche

Milongueros are nocturnal creatures and almost everything in tango happens at night, so noche  (night) is another Spanish keyword you must know for tango.

Esta noche de luna” (This moonlit night) is a beautiful song that describes a romantic moonlit night for a couple:

...Y en los abismos

(And in the abysses)

De esta noche de luna

(of this moonlit night,)

Sólo quiero vivir

(I only want to live,)

De rodillas a tus pies

(On my of knees at your feet)

Para amarte y morir…

(To love you and to die.)


5. Alma

Alma (Soul) is another big Spanish word in tango. How can you feel all the emotion in tango without a alma?

Desde el alma (From the soul) is a beautiful val encouraging a broken soul to put things in the past and move on.

Alma, si tanto te han herido

(Soul, if they have hurt you so much)

¿Por qué te niegas al olvido?

(Why do you refuse to forget?)

¿Por qué prefieres

(Why do you prefer)

llorar lo que has perdido….

(to cry for what you’ve lost…)

...Vives inútilmente triste

(You live needlessly sad)

y sé que nunca mereciste

(and I know that you never deserved)

pagar con penas

(to redeem with sorrow)

la culpa de ser buena

(the blame of being good,)

tan buena como fuiste, por amor.

(as good as you were, for love.)


Want to learn more Spanish for tango? Book a class with our Argentine teacher for USD7!


6. Dolor

Tango has known to be melancholic, and we have songs talk about all kind of dolor (pain): pain of separation; pain of betrayal; pain of lost…

One song in which we can find the word “dolor” is the song “Cantando” (Singing):

...Cantando yo le di, mi corazón, mi amor,

(...Singing I gave him, my heart, my love)

Y desde que se fue, yo canto mi dolor,

(and since he has left, I sing my sorrows)

Cantando lo encontré, cantando lo perdí,

(singing I found him, singing I lost him,)

Porque no sé llorar, cantando he de morir…

(because I don´t know how to cry, singing I will die…)


7. Ojos

Ojos (Eyes) play a big part in tango, all the dancing in milongas would not happen without the exchange of glances between the males and females.

Praising the dazzling eyes of a woman is a common flattery trick of Argentine men, and legend has it that Francisco Canaro went all the way to write “ Yo no se que me han hecho tus ojos” (I don’t know what your eyes have done to me) as a love song for Ada Falcón, a tango singer of his orchestra who is famous for her beautiful large green eyes.

...Yo no se que me han hecho tus ojos

(...I do not know what your eyes have done to me)

que al mirarme me matan de amor,

(that their looks kill me with love,)

yo no se que me han hecho tus labios

(I do not know what your lips have done to me)

que al besar mis labios, se olvida el dolor.

(that in kissing my lips, the banish pain...)


8. Triste

Most tango are sad, so there’s no surprise we can always find the word Triste (sad) in the songs.

In the tango “Lejos de Buenos Aires” (Far from Buenos Aires) the lyricist laments for his nostalgia of Buenos Aires:

Con la mueca de pesar

(With a grimace of grief)

Viejo, triste y sin valor,

(old, sad and worthless)

Lento el paso al caminar,

(slowing down my step as I walk,)

Voy cargando mi dolor,

(I am carrying my pain)

Lejos de la gran ciudad

(Far from the great city,)

Que me ha visto florecer.

(That witnessed my flourishing.)

En las calles más extrañas,

(In these strange streets,)

Siento el alma oscurecer.

(I feel the darkening of my soul.)


9. Día

The Spanish word Día means “day”. You can find the word in “Indiferencia” (Indifference)

Yo también, como todos, un día

(I also, like all others, once in the past,)

Tenía dinero, amigos y hogar

(I had money, friends and a home,)

Nunca supe que había falsía

(I had never known that there was falsity,)

Que el mundo sabía también traicionar.

(That the world also knew how to betray.)


10. Querio

Querio” (I like; I want) is the first person form of “querer” (like; want), it also forms a part of the most killing romantic expression in this world—“Te quiero” (I love you)!  

It’s also a word that you'd use a lot for asking for something, for example:


Querio un vaso de aqua.

(I’d like a glass of water)


You can find the Spanish word querio in the tango “Cantando”:


Si es pecado querer tanto en esta vida,

(If it is a sin to love so much in this life,)

Yo te pido, de rodillas, tu perdón

(I am asking you, on my knees, for your forgiveness)

Yo lo quiero tanto y tanto que me muero,

(I love him so much, but so much that I would die,)

Si me faltan las caricias de su amor.

(If I don’t have the caresses of his love.)


11. Voz

Voz means voice, and you can find the Spanish word voz in the tango “Cristal”:

...Tus sueños y mi voz, y nuestra timidez,

(Your dreams and my voice, and our shyness,)

Temblando suavemente en tu balcón,

(Shaking softly at your balcony,)

Y ahora sólo se, que todo se perdió,

(And only now I know, that all was lost,)

La tarde de mi ausencia.

(The afternoon that I left…)


12. Viejo

The Spanish word viejo functions as an adjective meaning  “old” (the feminine form would be “vieja”). It’s also often used as a noun referring to “an old man”, or “father” (The female form is again vieja).

We can find the word “viejo” in the lyrics of “Lejos de Buenos Aires

Con la mueca del pesar,

(With a grimace of grief,)

Viejo, triste y sin valor,

(Old, sad and worthless…)


13. Pobre

Tango originated in the grassroot society of Buenos Aires so there should be no surprise many songs would mention about the life of the pobres (poors). Pobre can also be use an adjective form of poor, but watch out for the difference in the meanings when we place "pobre" before or after the noun it modifies:

Una familia pobre

(A poor family (without sufficient financial resources))

Un pobre familia

(A miserable family)


You can find the Spanish word pobre in the song “Alma en pena” (Soul in sorrow):

...Esa voz que vuelvo a oír, un día fue mía,

(That voice that I hear again, one day it was mine,)

Y hoy de ella es apenas, el eco el que alumbra,

(and now it's just her echo that shines,)

Mi pobre alma en pena, que cae moribunda,

(my poor soul in sorrow, that falls dying,)

El pie de su balcón.

(at the foot of her balcony.)


14.  Pena

Tango is full of pena (sorrow, pity) and regret.

You can find the word in the song's title Alma en pena (Soul in sorrow):

Alma...que en pena vas errando,

(Soul…, that you wander in sorrow)  

Acércate a su puerta, suplícale llorando,

(get close to her door, plead with her whilst crying,)

Oye...perdona si te pido,

(listen...forgive if I ask you,)

Mendrugos del olvido, que alegre te hace ser.

(scraps of oblivion, that makes you happy…)


15. Tango

There should be no surprise that “Tango” is one of the most common words in the tango lyrics!

Claudio Frollo, a prominent lawyer and judge of the Buenos Aires high courts, who was also a ​milonguero (tango dancer who frequent milongas), wrote the lyrics for “Danza Maligna​" (Wicked dance, a song that glorifies tango, naming the orchestras as the altars and the bandoneon as the priest:

...Placer de dioses, baile perverso,

(Pleasure of the gods, this perverse dance,)

El tango, es rito y es religión,

(The tango, is a ritual and is a religion,)

Orquestas criollas son sus altares,

(The native orchestras are the altars,)

Y el sacerdote, su bandoneón

(And the priest, is the bandoneon...)


16. Tengo

Tengo (I have) is the first person present form of “Tener” (to have), and one example of tango that contains the Spanish word “tengo” is Fueron tres años (Three years have passed):

...Aún tengo fuego en los labios,

(I still have fire in my lips,)

Del beso de despedida

(from the goodbye kiss,)

¿Cómo pensar que mentías,

(How could I think that you were lying,)

Si tus negros ojos lloraban por mí?

(If your dark eyes were crying for me?)


17. Querer

Querer” (to wish/ to want/ to like) is the infinitive verb form of “quiero” (I like/ I want ) (#10 most common Spanish word in tango).

You can easily find the Spanish word in many tangos, usually in the form of other variations of the verb form.


One example would be in “Lejos de Buenos Aires” (Far from Buenos Aires):

Nadie observa mi final,

(No one notices my ending,)

Ni le importa mi dolor,

(Nor cares about my pain,)

Nadie quiere mi amistad,

(Nobody wants my friendship,)

Sólo estoy con mi amargor.

(I am just alone with my bitterness.)

Here quiere is the third person form of “querer” in present tense.


18. Llorar & 19. Recuerdo


Llorar” means cry, and “​recuerdo” means memory.

You can find the both words in “Lejos de Buenos Aires


¡Tango que trae recuerdos!

(Tango that brings back memories!)

¡Mi Buenos Aires, quiero llorar!

(My Buenos Aires, I want to cry!)


20. Ayer

Tango always talks about memory and things happen in the past, so it’s no surprise that ayer (yesterday) often forms part of the lyrics.

You can find the word “ayer” in the all time classic tango by D’Arienzo “Paciencia” (Patience):

...Ni vos sos la misma, no yo soy el mismo

(Neither you are the same, nor I am the same)

Los años...la vida...quién sabe lo qué.

(the years...the life...who can tell what.)

De una vez por todos, mejor la franqueza,

(Once and for all, it’s better to be honest,)

Yo y vos, no podemos volver al ayer.

(me and you, we can not return to the past.)

Enjoyed reading this blog post. Learn these 20 most common Spanish words in tango and make a great leap in understanding tango songs!

Most of the tango lyrics and translation are adapted from “Tango words: Letras de tango. A Guide to Tango lyrics with English Translation” by Manuel Garber. You can find the book here.

Like our blog post and want to read more? Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss our posts (plus you can find a load of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!)

Want more Spanish practice? You can book a 30-minute trial class for only USD7 with our Tango Spanish teachers who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires!

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our books Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips and Tango Spanish: Essential Phrase Book For Tango Class (And Language Guide for Tango Shoe Shopping).

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel TipsTango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class


tango books

10 tango books that answer every question you have for tango

At different times during our tango journey we’d have different wants and needs: advice on improving techniques; knowledge on tango music for better musicality; tips for planning a tango trip to Buenos Aires and learning Spanish, the language of the dance. We may also be curious about different topics such as the history of the tango; the códigos (unspoken rules) in a milonga porteña (a milonga in Buenos Aires). Sometimes we may want fun read of tango, of the dance we all love.

Here we provide our top pick of 10 books that will answer all kinds of questions you have of tango, for you to sit back and enjoy with a coffee, tea or a glass of wine!

Book on Tango music and lyrics

​1. Tango Stories: Musical Secrets by Micheal Lavocah

A must-read for all tango music lovers. Written by Michael Lavocah, a tango teacher, and DJ, the book introduces tango orchestras of different periods of time while focusing on those important ones in the golden period, and highlights the characteristics of the music of different orchestras so to help you recognize them in a milonga (“tango balls”). It also comes with a playlist including the most representative songs from each orchestra so you can listen to while reading the book.

If you are into music by golden age orchestras, check out his “Tango masters” book series—offer in-depth analyzes of the music of Aníbal Troilo, Osvaldo Pugliese and Carlos Di Sarli.

2. Tango words (Letras de tango) (Written in English and Spanish) by Manuel Garber

If you are looking for enriching your understanding of tango lyrics and advance your Spanish, “Tango words” is the book you will love. The author, an Argentine milonguero (tango dancer) who grew up in Buenos Aires and is now living in Australia, offers his meticulous and beautiful translations of 20 classical tango songs. You can listen to the songs on his website while reading the book.

Book on traveling to Buenos Aires

3. Happy Tango—SallyCat’s guide to dancing in Buenos Aires by Sally Blake

This book is written by a British artist and tanguera (tango dancer) who follows her tango dream and travels all the way from United Kingdom to Buenos Aires. It is an entertaining book yet filled with sage advice and useful tips. You will get advice from how to attract dances in milongas, to planning a week of milongas and classes in Buenos Aires. Though the latest version was published in 2013 which means you will need to double check the information of milongas and tango schools in the book, it still offers timeless insights for tangueros who will set foot on Argentina soil for the first time.

Book on learning Spanish for tango and traveling to Buenos Aires

4. Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires travel tips  by Jeanie Tsui and Micaella Digenio

This book is for those of you who have been thinking about learning Spanish for tango. It is also a must-read for those who will visit Buenos Aires for a full tango experience. Instead of being an ordinary Spanish learning book, the author Jeanie Tsui, a tanguera, and her Spanish teacher Micaella Digenio introduce a fresh approach for learning Spanish tailored for tangueros for learning the basic of Spanish for tango in only 3 months.

The book goes into details of explaining how Argentine Spanish is unique from European and Latin-American Spanish. It also provides essential information and practical tips on how to save money and bargain for discount; strategies of tango class taking and unspoken rules in local milongas, which are essential for a successful tango trip.

5. Tango Spanish: Essential phrase book for tango class (and language guide for tango shoe shopping) by Jeanie Tsui and Micaella Digenio

If you are planning to go to Argentina for learning tango, this book is for you. Many non-Spanish speaking tango visitors who travel to Buenos Aires for the first time would be shocked to find out many teachers teach group classes speaking mostly in Spanish, and struggle to catch up.

This book offers a comprehensive collection of Spanish words that are frequently used in a tango class: body parts; figures and techniques; actions and movements and common dialogues between students and teachers, plus vocabularies and phrases one would need for tango shoe shopping—a must-do for every tanguero visiting Argentina. You’d learn the name of parts of shoes, asking for the right size, and bargaining for the best price.

Book on History and culture of tango

6. The meaning of tango by Christine Denniston

If you would want to learn about the history of tango, this is the book you should turn to. The author of the book, Christine Denniston, is the first non-Argentine tango teacher in Buenos Aires. It traces back to the origin of tango and walk readers through the development of tango. From there you can learn about the golden age, and the dark period of prohibition of tango from Argentine government. The book also talk about the success of Broadway show “Tango Argentino” that led to the renaissance of tango in the 1980s which eventually made the dance becomes a global phenomenon. Apart from the history part, the book also offers a section on tango techniques.

Tango Technique

7. Secrets of the embrace (Secretos del abrazo) by Rubén Véliz (English, Italian and Spanish versions available)

This book is for those who need insights on improving posture and dance technique. The book author, Rubén Véliz is a world-renowned Argentine tango master who has been performing and teaching with his wife Sabrina Véliz since 1998. He is passionate about tango teaching and has taught tangueros all over the world. He wrote this book to help tangueros to understand how their body works, and how to shape it into the best form for dancing via regular practices.

Tango memoirs

8. Tango passion and the rules of the game by Margareta Westergård (English and Spanish versions available)

Tango is not purely a performance art, but also a social activity that involves complex human interactions. The author Margareta Westergård is a Swedish milonguera who has a sociology background. She offers her observation about the códigos (unspoken rules) and behaviors of tangueros in Buenos Aires milongas. You may also gain insight about how a life of a devoted tanguero would look like, and how to survive the roller-coaster ride of tango—from being at the height of intense joy and delight, to the rock bottom of tango depression and feeling like a pariah. Read the book for a fascinating glimpse of the happenings inside the tango world of Buenos Aires!

9. Tango lesson by Meghan Flaherty

An enchanting memoir on author’s tango journey in New York in her late twenties, and how these “tango lessons” taught her about life. Being a young lady daunted by past traumas and frightened by male touches, tango was an unlikely choice for her. But as she felt the needs for transformation and the urge of digging up a long-lost dream, she gave tango a try.

A well-researched book interlacing tango history and personal memory written in lyrical prose, you will find it both a pleasurable and enriching read.  

10. In Strangers’ Arms: The Magic of the Tango by Beatriz Dujovne

By an American-Argentine author, this book serves both as a textbook and a memoir which presents a study of tango history and culture, and personal experience of the author. It covers a broad range of themes: from the anthropology of tangueros; the psychological effects of tango on dancers to the socio-economic factors that popularize tango. An eloquently written book recommended for readers who are looking for a deeper understanding of the dance.

Like our blog post and want to read more? Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss our posts (plus you can find a load of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!)

Want more Spanish practice? You can book a 30-minute trial class for only USD7 with our Tango Spanish teachers who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires!

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our books Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips and Tango Spanish: Essential Phrase Book For Tango Class (And Language Guide for Tango Shoe Shopping).

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel TipsTango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class

Buenos Aires El beso

6 Tips on enjoying the first Buenos Aires milonga and getting more dances

Buenos Aires El beso

I always remember my first Buenos Aires milonga at El Beso 4 years ago. I sat in the third row of the lady section like a wallflower for hours, watching my neighbors being invited over and over. I never succeed in catching the eyes of any gentleman. Every time after my neighbors were out on the dance floor, I felt very exposed with only empty seats surrounding me. I left disheartened. Walking on the busy Avenida Corrientes, I kept thinking what was wrong with me.

Fast forward to 2 months ago, I went to the same milonga and things changed. I was still sitting on the third row, but I became the few tangueras who always got onto the dance floor first every time a tanda (a set of tango music) start. I left the milonga early not because I didn’t get invited, but because my feet were sore and the floor’s got too crowded to move. 

What has led to this transform? ​I have many hard-learned lessons over these years. I wish someone would have given me the following 6 tips earlier so I’d get a head start in milongas and saved many disappointed nights. 

So here I’m sharing these tips for having fun and getting more dances in Buenos Aires milongas, which some of them also apply for milongas, festivals and marathons in other places where you are new and don’t know a soul.

1. Go early/make reservation

I can’t stress enough the importance of the location of your seat. It affects how much you are seen and the ease of cabeceo (the use of sight for dance invitation) with others, especially for ladies. (For men, in Buenos Aires milonga you are allowed to stand up and walk around the room to widen your search for partner ). So try to make a reservation before the milonga, or go early.

2. Attend the class before the milonga

In Buenos Aires there’s often a tango class which the fee is included in the ticket of the milonga. Taking part in the class before the milonga is a good way to make friends, so at the start of the milonga it will be a cinch to get dances. The class will also help you warm up and know the place better and reduce the anxiety of dancing at a venue for the first time. 

3. Don’t take the first invitation

This may sound counter-intuitive, but what I am suggesting is not to take the invitation when you’ve just arrived the milonga and got an invitation from an unknown person. I often got the worse tanda of the night because I was rushing to the floor and didn’t observe the dance of my partner before taking the invitation. This might impact the invitation you get later on as milongueros would observe the dance of a new face before deciding to dance with him/her. If your first tanda is unappealing, and you are seen dancing in bad posture, you may end up getting fewer dances that night. 

 

4. Interact with your neighbors

In Buenos Aires milongas you’d often need to share a table with other milongueros/as. Be friendly and say “Hola! Cómo estás?”  (Hi, how are you?) or “Todo bien?” (Everything’s good?). Engage in small talks with them when they are not busy for cabeceo. Their friendliness and the advice offered to you would often surprise you. I have got many suggestions of the best milongas in town from my neighbors. They would be more likely to dance with you too- I have once danced with my neighbor who was a female leader, and that was the best tanda of the night. 

5. Dress for success

In Buenos Aires milongas people would usually dress classy to milonga. Even in an afternoon milonga such as Nuevo Chique, you would see old ladies wearing their satin or velvet dress and hair arranged in elegant updos, and old gentlemen dressing neatly in their suits. Keep your jeans and T-shirt in wardrobe and match into the dance hall in your best attire! However, it may not be a good occasion to show off your newly bought Comme il faut, as ​people might see you as a nouveau and rich tango tourist. It’s best to wear shoes that have been worn for some time, as they are more comfortable for your feet and would show to the others you are a seasoned dancer. 

6. Thanks the organizers before you leave

This is a point which many people may overlook. Organizing a milongas requires a lot of planning and coordination. By thanking the organizers you show your appreciation for their hard work. It’s also a good way to establish connection, so that when you return the next time, they may offer you a better seat.

Like our blog post and want to read more? Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss our posts (plus you can find load of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!)

Want more Spanish practice? You can book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires!

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our books Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips and Tango Spanish: Essential Phrase Book For Tango Class (And Language Guide for Tango Shoe Shopping).

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

 

Tango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class

romantic spanish phrase

12 Romantic Spanish Phrases for Lovers

Want to learn some romantic Spanish phrases to woo your sweetheart? Spanish is known to be the most passionate and sexy language, why don’t you learn a few cute, sexy Spanish phrases to spice up your love life; to surprise and win the heart of tu amor (your love), telling him or her “Te quiero” (I love you)?

In this post we have assembled 12 romantic Spanish phrases to say your novio/novia (boyfriend/girlfriend)!

Here comes our top Spanish love phrases:

1.Te quiero

I love you

The literal translation of “Te quiero” is “I want you”, but in fact it is a common way of how Spaniards say “I love you” to their loved one.

2. Te amo

I love you.

This is a more formal way of saying “I love you”.

3. Estoy enamorado(a) de ti.

I am in love with you.

Enamorado means “in love”, and this adjective needs to match with the gender of the speaker. So if you are a man, say “estoy enamorado”; if you are a girl, it would be “estoy enamorada”.   

4. Te quiero con toda mi alma

I love you with all of my soul.

5. Eres el amor de mi vida

You are the love of my life.

6. Cada día te quiero más

Each day I love you more.

7. Eres mi todo

You are my everything.

8. Besarte es como ver las estrellas

To kiss you is like seeing stars.

9.Quiero estar contigo para siempre

I want to be with you forever.

10. Te amo desde el fondo de mi corazón

I love you from the bottom of my heart.

11.Te amo, tu me complementas

I love you, you complete me.

12. Tu eres mi alma gemela

You are my soulmate.

Which romantic phrase you like most? Leave a comment and let us know!

Want to practice and perfect your pronunciation before saying these love phrases to your lover? Book a lesson with our native Spanish teachers!

Taking tango class in Buenos Aires

4 ways for taking tango classes in Buenos Aires

Planning to go Buenos Aires to learn tango? In this blog post we will walk you through 4 common ways for taking tango classes in Buenos Aires. Finally we will offer a few tips on getting the best result of your learning in the mecca of tango!

4 ways for taking tango classes in Buenos Aires

1. Before milonga

Many milongas in the city would offer a free group class included in the ticket. This provides a great opportunity for learning. In August during the Mundial season you will find many of these classes taught by world renowned masters- a great bargain as it would be more expensive to take their classes elsewhere.

You can look for milongas with group classes on Hoy Milonga. For more accurate and updated information of the class, check the Facebook page of the milonga you are planning to visit.

2. Tango school

There are many tango schools in the city which offer tango classes back to back everyday. The 2 most well-known are DNI and Escuela Mundial de tango. It would be a more expensive option than the one before a milonga, but the classes are more commonly attended by tango tourists so the teachers are more prepared to teach in English.

3. Tango festival

If you fancy taking classes with big names, tango festivals would be a convenient choice. There are many festivals held in different period of time in the year, offering an intensive schedule of multiple classes everyday within one or two weeks by a variety of masters of different styles, so that you can take all your classes in one place without the need of traveling around the city.

Two regular Tango festivals that are held every year are: Cita (March) and Tango Salon Extremo (August).

4. Private classes

If you are very keen to learn with a particular master/couple, and have a bigger budget, taking private classes would be very beneficial for your learning—you will have full attention of the teachers, and they will be giving more specific advice on improving your tango.

One way to contact the teachers for private classes is to look for them on Facebook and send them private messages. However, some very popular teachers may have their inbox overflowed with messages . Another way would be approaching them after their group class or in milonga after their performance.

Final tips for the best result of your tango learning

1. Ask your “home teacher” for advice

Before your trip it may be a good idea to discuss with your teacher(s) in your city for recommendation of Argentine masters. Many tango teachers would have the experience of learning tango in Buenos Aires so they are good resources for advice.

2. Follow your favorite master(s) on Facebook

Many Argentine teacher would have a Facebook account dedicated for publicity where they would post information about their group classes and milongas in which they are performing, making it easier for you to approach and learn with them.

3. Try a group class before booking a private class

Many times a fabulous dancer might not necessarily be a good teacher, and vice versa. Before committing to a private class with a new teacher, it’s always good to take at least one group class with him/her so to experience the teaching and see if it suits you.

4. Don’t take too many classes from different masters

Very often foreign tangueros would find it difficult to resist the temptation of taking many classes with different masters, as the class fee is always a big bargain compared to that back home. However, taking too many classes with different masters often results in confusion, as each master has a different technique. It is not unusual for one master teaching one technique and another master teaching the exact opposite. It’s usually good to focus on learning with one or two master(s)/couple(s) at a time.

5. Set a realistic goal

Many people would go to Buenos Aires thinking the trip would help them to become advance dancers. While intensive learning would definitely be helpful, it will be unrealistic to expect the change to happen overnight. It takes time for your body to adapt to a new technique. The best approach would be taking notes (or videos, if the teacher allows) of the classes, and take time to practice the skills regularly so that they are incorporated into your body and become habitual.

Like our blog post and want to read more? Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss any new post (plus you can find loads of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!)

Want more Spanish practice? You can book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our books Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips and Tango Spanish: Essential Phrase Book For Tango Class (And Language Guide for Tango Shoe Shopping).

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

 

Tango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class

 

5 big questions to consider before going Buenos Aires to learn tango

5 Big Questions To Consider Before Going Buenos Aires for Your Tango Classes

Finally you are taking one step further in your tango learning—visiting Buenos Aires, the mecca of tango. You want to learn with the top Argentine masters, get the most out of the trip and come back with shiny skills and techniques—but wait, have you made a plan for your tango classes? Unless you have the luxury of staying in Buenos Aires for months or even years, otherwise the shorter the time you stay, the better the planning you should have made beforehand.

I remember 4 years ago in my first visit to Buenos Aires, I didn’t make any plans and just went with the flow. I rushed to the first tango classes I saw. I ended up wasting precious time on classes of wrong level or wrong topics which made me more confused. If I had known better how the tango learning works in Buenos Aires and planned more thoroughly, I would have made a better progress.

In this blog post we will first throw you some big questions to consider so to help on your planning.

5 big questions to consider

1. What is your goal?

Goal-setting is crucial for achieving a satisfactory result for any learning. It’s also a question that you’d probably be asked the first time when you are taking a private class with any master, so it’s worthwhile to ponder upon this question. Are you trying to become a better milonguero/a so that more people will enjoy dancing with you? Or you are working towards becoming a stage dancer? Or maybe you will be competing in Mundial de Tango (World Tango Dance Tournament) soon? Having a clear goal will be helpful for you to set up a plan for learning, deciding on the master who you’d take classes with, and for your master to understand your needs and work out a suitable plan for training.

2. When will you go?

If you are going after the big names, the best time to visit will be July-August when the Mundial de Tango takes place, as many renowned teachers and past champions who are always on tours in foreign countries would come back  to be judges in the competition. Another good time would be December-traditional time for family reunion in Argentina when many masters would return from abroad.

For the rest of the years there will still be many Argentine teachers around, they may be fabulous dancers and dedicated teachers but less well-known internationally, and are waiting to be discovered in various group classes in the city.

3. How long are you staying?

The period of time of your stay is another critical factor for deciding the approach of your class-taking. If you are staying only 2-3 weeks, the most efficient way to learn is to take many private classes with one or two masters. However, if you are staying a month or longer, you can afford to spend the first one or two weeks exploring—taking group classes with different masters experiencing their teaching styles and skills, then in the later period focus on your favorite one or two.

4. Do you speak Spanish?

Many foreign tango students are shocked to find out almost all group classes in Buenos Aires are conducted in Spanish, even in tango festivals which are mostly attended by foreigners. In fact, it’s natural to expect Argentine teachers teaching in their mother tongue on their native land, and it may also be difficult to find an exact English translation for some Spanish expressions. Some teachers may offer some English explanation, but often less complete than the original Spanish teaching.

Before your Buenos Aires trip it’s always a good idea to know some basic Spanish, as it will be crucial for your tango learning, as well as for your daily life and getting along with the locals. However if you don’t have enough time to learn, taking private classes would be more effective for your learning.

5. Are you going solo? Or with a partner?

Those who have a dance partner have an edge over the singletons: they have a regular class and practice partner, and can share the cost of private classes as well as other travel costs such as transportation, studio fee, etc. It’s also good to have a company to adapt to a new routine in a foreign city, which can be both exciting and unnerving.

However don’t be disheartened if you go by yourself-you may still be able to team up with other singletons you would encounter in group classes, plus there are many solo techniques classes which don’t require a partner. You can also take advantage of the cheaper private class than your own country. Anyway, the trip will be a great occasion for polishing your skills.

In our next blog post we will be covering four common ways for people to take tango classes in Buenos Aires. Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss that (plus you can find loads of FREE resources for learning Spanish for tango!

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our books Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips and Tango Spanish: Essential Phrase Book For Tango Class (And Language Guide for Tango Shoe Shopping)

Cover for book Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tip
Cover for Tango Spanish Essential Phrase Book for Tango Class

Want more practice? You can book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires!

christmas

Trouble finding the perfect Christmas gift for your tango friends? Check these ideas!

You and your fellow tangueros share one truly special interest: tango. You may know their other likes and interests, but you’re certain they enjoy tango music and Argentine culture.

During the month of December there are tons of end-of-the-year celebrations, and surely, your tango school is having one. Some groups even play Secret Santa and you may need to buy a present for someone you don’t know well…but you do know their taste for tango!

Take a look at these recommendations to buy the perfect gift!

 

History of Tango – CD of tango music

Getting a cd with the greatest tango music in history is a nice and warm-hearted gift for a tanguero. This cd includes 102 tracks that trace the history of tango. The first cds include music from Astor Piazzola and the other two present the best of the Golden Age of Tango. You can buy it through Amazon. Check here.

 

Yerba mate and mate cup 

If you’ve met Argentine tango masters you’ve surely tried or been offered “mate”. If you haven’t, you can read more in this post (with a video explaining how to prepare it). It’s a typical Argentine gift, and your tango friends will love it! If they were hesitant last time they were offered, now with their own mate they will definitely try it! You can find many options on Amazon (like this one), but make sure it includes the herbs (yerba mate), the cup (mate) and the straw (bombilla) so that your friend has all he/she needs to prepare a true Argentine mate!

 

3. Martín Fierro – The most traditional Argentine book

This is the most well-known Argentine book, written by Argentine author José Hernández.

It’s a unique story about the life of gauchos in the Argentine pampas.

This is the review you can find on Amazon:

“The two poems which, together, are popularly known as the Martín Fierro form what is often regarded as the greatest single Spanish American work in creative literature. Appropriately, it draws from Spain the language and verse forms which have long been the vehicle of improvisation, the didactic folk wisdom of old Spanish proverbs, the Spanish interest in law whether formally codified in the fueros and the Siete Partidas or informally mocked by the pícaros in its practical application, and the Spanish emphasis upon individual worth and independence. Even more directly, the Martín Fierro is national in feeling, portraying the Argentine rural scene and the social aspirations, institutions and events of a great transition period of Argentine history. … Rooted in Spain, Argentine in content, universal in interest, the Martín Fierro is one of the world’s great books and should be more widely known abroad. … This edition is improved by the availability of original and translation on facing pages.” ― Madaline W. Nichols in Inter-American Review of Bibliography

We recommend this version as it includes the English translation, so you can give it to friends who speak Spanish, are learning or don’t speak Spanish at all!

 

Tango Spanish Books

These three Tango Spanish books, written by Jeanie Tsui, a tanguera, and her Spanish teacher Micaella Digenio cover tips and phrases for different situations a tanguero/a may need to face when taking tango classes, going to milongas or travelling to Buenos Aires. These are the best language guide books for tangueros, as they cover all the necessary tools to not only survive, but take full advantage, of a tango trip to Buenos Aires. Even if your friend is not traveling any sooner, he/she will be benefited from learning the essential Spanish phrases for tango classes and for appreciating the music at home.

  • Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips
  • Tango Spanish: Essential phrase book for tango class (and language guide for tango shoe shopping) Coming Soon (on Amazon)
  • Tango Spanish: Essential phrase book for understanding tango music and lyrics Coming Soon (on Amazon)

Tango Spanish Skype Lessons

If you’re thinking of getting a really original and valuable gift for your tanguero friends you can consider buying a package of Tango Spanish lessons via Skype with a native Argentine tutor who is also a tanguera. Master Spanish Now is specialized in providing these lessons to tangueros around the world who want to enhance their knowledge of tango culture and get ready for a tango trip to Argentina.

 

tango

A choosy lover

Tango doesn’t choose everyone.

 

Every year I walk into the master workshop, I see a new crowd of beginners with bright eyes and full of wonders about the dance. They are eager to try every new step. Girls are fascinated by the feeling of their leg whipping high up in the air; men beam with a satisfactory smile when they succeed at leading a new sequence. In the milonga they dance every song with everyone and they are never exhausted. The next year, the crowd disappears and is replaced by another. The beginners come and go like waves progress to the shore, then recede to the middle of the sea, vanish. I approach my Argentine masters, their eyes brim with joy. They open their arms and throw me a hug: “So good to see you again.”

 

Tango is a demanding art. Once you get hooked it devours all your time and energy. In the beginning every milonga is pure joy- you dance to every song, feeling your body carried by your partner and the music, until your feet are swollen. But soon you would realize your lack of technique- your legs wobble in the heels; your body arches back when you are doing the back ocho; your partner complains about you pulling and pushing his/her arm…you sign up for every workshop, take private classes with all masters, and sky’s the limit for the money you would spend on  improving your skill.

 

You see your progress starts leveling off and this is the moment your self-doubt kicks in: Do I lack talent in dancing? Why would I still repeat the error after practicing for so long? Should I continue if I see no improvement? In the milonga you watch others dance with elegance and ease with envy and self-pity in your eyes. You always feel you are not good enough.

 

You would likely have experienced some rejections too-maybe someone who always turns the face away every time your glance meet; or another person who is eager to dance with everyone in the milonga – except you. Your cheeks burn and you feel like a pariah. You hide at the dark corner until you can’t take it anymore and slip away from the door.

 

All the demand of money and time, emotional strain and insecurity about oneself push people away which make tango a choosy and hard-to-please lover. Only a handful of people with a wealth of patience and love can stay.

 

It might take you years to realize learning tango is a lengthy process, and accept bottleneck a stage which every dancer would have gone through. You would start to accept and respect the limits of your body, or you may invest in sports such as yoga and pilates to train the flexibility of your body, the strength of your core and muscles, and your body will thank you later.

 

You might start to see tango beyond purely aesthetic movements – an art that embodies the history, the thoughts, the sorrow and the dreams of Argentinians. If you don’t speak Spanish, you may start learning the language so to understand the poetry of the lyrics and to reach the essence of tango.

 

You may also realize the beauty of movements can sometimes be an illusion- a lady may have been on her autopilot and her partner might in fact, be confused about the dazzling embellishments she adds on her own; the man might have done all the fancy sequences at the expense of the lady racing around him. These dances are merely a showing off of techniques, a set of superficial movements void of connection, emotion and musicality.

 

The longer you stay in the community, the more respect you would gain from the others. People would see your persistence, the effort that you have invested on honing your skill. People who have been giving you cold shoulders may start to fancy dancing with you when your technique is more mature and your balance has improved.

 

Then you, with this newly gained confidence and understanding about the dance and yourself, become a real tanguero, the one chosen by tango.

 

gendernumber

Gender and Number in Spanish Grammar

Gender

Being an English speaker you’re probably not familiar with this classification of nouns into masculine and feminine forms.

When nouns refer to living creatures, it’s pretty easy to choose the correct masculine or feminine form of the noun, based on the gender of the creature. Usually, nouns ending in “o” are masculine and nouns ending in “a” are feminine. See below:

English word Spanish word (Masculine) Spanish word (Feminine)
The dog El perro (The male dog) La perra (The female dog)
The cousin El primo (The male cousin) La prima (The female cousin)
The teacher El maestro (The male teacher) La maestra (The female teacher)

However, other nouns referring to places, things, etc. are also feminine or masculine.

Below are some common Spanish nouns and their gender:

English word Spanish word (M=masculine / F=Feminine)
The shoe El zapato (M)
The guitar La guitarra (F)
The accordion El bandoneón (M)
The woman La mujer (F)
The man El hombre (M)
The CD El disco compacto (M)
The coffee El café (M)
The pizza La pizza (F)
The meal La comida (F)

As you can see, as a general rule words that end in “o” are masculine and words that end in “a” are feminine. There are many exceptions to this rule, but, to get started, taking this into account might help you a lot! Words ending in a consonant or in other vowels may be feminine or masculine (you’ll have to memorize them at first!)

Some exceptions to this rule:

English word Spanish word
The problem El problema
The language El idioma
The hand La mano
The libido La libido

Other exceptions are words that end in “a” and whose ending cannot be changed. As the noun does not change according to gender it is very important to pay attention to the preceding article to see if the noun is masculine or feminine.

English word Spanish form (masculine) Spanish form (feminine)
The gymnast El gimnasta La gimnasta
The journalist El periodista La periodista
The artist El artista La artista

 

Number

In our previous section we described how words change depending on their gender. In this section we will explain how to change a noun depending on whether the word is singular or plural.

As a general rule, when a word ends in a vowel, its plural form will have an “s” by the end.

English word Singular form Plural form
(Male) The dog(s) El perro Los perros
The artist(s) El artista Los artistas
The house(s) La casa Las casas
The coffee(s) El café Los cafés
The mum(s) La mamá Las mamás

There are exceptions to this rule. Nouns ending in “í” or “ú” usually have two accepted plural forms. One in which only the “s” is added, and another one that ends in “es”.

English word Singular form Plural forms
The scalpel(s) El bisturí Los bisturís / Los bisturíes
The hummingbird(s) El colibrí Los colibrís / Los colibríes
The hindu(s) El hindú Los hindús / Los hindúes
The rhea(s) El ñandú Los ñandús / Los ñandúes

When a word ends in a consonant, we need to add “es” to the noun to make it plural.

See the examples below:

English word Singular form Plural form
The city(s) La ciudad Las ciudades
The accordion(s) El bandoneón* Los bandoneones
The Paper(s) El papel Los papeles
The sun(s) El sol Los soles
The lemon(s) El limón* Los limones

As you can see in “bandoneón” and “limón”, the written accent marks are lost in the plural form. The reason is that by adding these letters and forming a new syllable, the stress of the word changes place.

If a word ends in “z”, the “z” is replaced by a “c” and then the ending “es” is added.

The pencil(s) → El lápiz → Los lápices

The partridge(s) → La perdiz → Las perdices

There are words that remain the same in the singular and plural form. The only way of knowing whether it’s singular or plural is by paying attention to the article that precedes it:

 

Nouns ending in “s” in the singular form

The analysis → El análisis → Los análisis

The ecstasy → El éxtasis → Los éxtasis

 

Compound nouns

The can-opener → El abrelatas → Los abrelatas

“Abre” comes from “abrir” (to open) and “latas” means cans.

The lavatory → El lavamanos → Los lavamanos

“Lava” comes from “lavar” (to wash) and “manos” means hands.

 

Foreign nouns

For many foreign nouns,  only an “s” is added after the last consonant in the plural forms.

English word Singular Spanish word Plural Spanish word
The ticket(s) El ticket Los tickets
The film(s) El film Los films
The surplus El superávit Los superávits

We hope this lesson has helped you to understand more about gender and number in Spanish. For more help, book a class with one of our private tutors