Speak Spanish like an Argentine! Learn voseo, yeísmo and lunfardo.

Speak Spanish like an Argentine!

Argentinian Spanish differs a lot from European Spanish. Due to several historical reasons, it has some characteristics that make it unique. Let’s find out!


Speak Spanish like an Argentine! Learn voseo, yeísmo and lunfardo.
2009.09: El Caminito, Buenos Aires, Argentina by Rodrigo Accurcio, cc by 2.0
  1. A “weird” pronunciation of Spanish words…Yeísmo?


The Argentine dialect is popular both among other Latin American countries as well as in Spain for having a very particular way of pronouncing the sound of letters “Y” and “LL” of Spanish language. Have you heard about this? In most Spanish-speaking countries these two sounds are similar, and pronounced like the “y” in the English word “yes”. However, in Argentina and Uruguay the sound is more like the “sh” English sound found in “shop”.


Do you want to practice? Check these words, and try pronouncing them both in the Spanish way and in the Argentinian way:

  • Lluvia.
  • Yo.
  • Playa.
  • Caballo.


2. They don’t use “tú” for informal treatment:


And so, what do they say when they talk to friends or family? They say “vos“. In the Rio de la Plata region (Argentina and Uruguay) people use “vos” instead of “tú” to address someone informally. The conjugation of the verb also changes (check out the table below).


In Argentina its use is strict, they hardly ever use “tú”. Uruguayans, however, use “tú” with the conjugation of “vos” and they use the words “tú” and “vosindisctinctly. They seldom conjugate verbs in the “tú” form.


One more thing: The “voseo” is only used in the present and imperative forms.

Verb:                “Vos” form  (present)       Example sentence

SER                         sos                                  Vos sos mi mejor amiga (You’re my best friend).

HABLAR                hablás                            ¡Hablás muy rápido! (You speak too fast!)

COMER                  comés                            ¿No comés verduras? (Don’t you eat veggies?)

ESCRIBIR              escribís                          Escribís lindos mensajes (You write cute messages)


3. Lunfardo, a criminal language…


Lunfardo appeared in Buenos Aires and Montevideo (the capitals of Argentina and Uruguay) during the second half of the 19th century due to the Italian immigration (the word “lunfardo” comes from the language “Lombardo” and other dialects spoken during those times in the north of Italy and some Swiss cities). Lunfardo was also influenced by the French, the English, the Galician, the Portuguese, and others.


Lunfardo started as a prison language, so that guards would not understand what the prisoners were talking about. Many of its expressions came with the arrival of European immigrants (mainly Italians) and other words actually came from the Argentine Pampa.


Some examples of it are:

  • Mina = Woman (It comes from the Italian word “femmina“)
  • Laburar = To work (From the word “lavorare” in Italian)
  • Chau = Bye (From the Italian “ciao”)
  • Quilombo = Mess (African origin, place where slaves lived)
  • Chamuyo = Words used to impress or show off but which are not true.
  • Fiaca = Laziness (From the Italian word “fiacco”).


Interested in Argentine Spanish? Book a class with our Argentine teacher!

3 thoughts on “Speak Spanish like an Argentine!”

  1. I’ve been to Argentina twice, and I’ve seen Lunfardo is currently used. Do you know why people still use it?

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