If you were looking to clear your doubts about Argentinian Spanish, you’ve come to the right place.
The variant of Spanish that Argentina speaks is called español rioplatense and is named after the Rio de la Plata river. This variant is characterized by the ‘vos’ and ‘ustedes’ (instead of ‘tú’ and ‘vosotros’) pronoun forms and the sh sounds in pronunciation, as well as lunfardo slang.
In this post I’ll tell you about the main differences between Spanish from Argentina, and Spanish from Spain, Mexico and even Chile. I’ve also included an easy table with personal pronouns in Argentinian Spanish. This article also tells you why do we Argentinians have a particular pronunciation, and a lot more.
What kind of Spanish does Argentina speak?
The Spanish spoken in Argentina is called español rioplatense. The name comes from Río de la Plata, the river that borders Buenos Aires and Uruguay. This “version” of Spanish is spoken throughout Argentina and Uruguay.
The grammatical structure we use in these two countries is the same as well as the pronunciation, with changes in, of course, slang words, that we call lunfardo.
I always like to clarify that between Spanish speakers we can all understand each other, no matter where we come from.
There are major differences in pronunciation, accents and slang words, and some small grammatical differences with Spanish from Spain that I’ll cover below. But overall, if you’ve learnt a sort of Spanish every native speaker will understand you.
The easiest and quickest way to identify an Argentinian is to listen at how they pronounce: in words with double L, such as calle (street), we use a “sh” sound to pronounce them.
That said, in “cuidado con como cruzás la calle!” (be careful while crossing the street!), calle would be pronounced cashe. This also applies for the letter Y. Like this:
The reason why we pronounce like this comes from the mixture of languages that cohabited in the country during the migratory waves in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Spanish in the region adapted to certain French, Italian, and Portuguese pronunciations, as the video explains.
Is Argentinian Spanish different from Spanish from Spain?
Yes, they’re actually quite different. The main difference are the 2nd person singular and 2nd person plural in the grammatical forms.
Here are some crucial differences between pronouns in Standard Spanish and Argentinian Spanish:
|Standard Spanish||Argentinian Spanish||English|
Let’s see some example sentences of how the grammatical differences would apply:
A Spanish person would say: tú no tienes mi camisa verde verdad? (You don’t have my green shirt right?)
While an Argentinian would say: vos no tenés mi camisa verde no? (You don’t have my green shirt right?)
As you can see, the way the we conjugate the verb is also different. I’ll do a whole post about how to speak Argentinian Spanish where I’ll explain how to conjugate verbs and pronunciation. But in summary, this is the main difference.
Of course you need to add slang words and the accent and pronunciation like I mentioned above, which also are quite different. But again, don’t let that discourage you.
I’d say these two versions of Spanish are a bit more different than American and British English, but not as different as, let’s say, High German and Swiss German.
Overall, Spanish from Spain tends to sound more formal than Argentinian Spanish. This is because the tú form in Spain sounds more formal than the vos form in Argentina.
There is a misconception that Argentinian Spanish is informal while Spanish from Spain is formal, however both tú and vos forms are informal and used that way in both countries. The formal way of speaking in Spanish is with usted, and both Argentinians and Spanish use it the same way.
Is Argentinian Spanish different from Chilean Spanish?
Despite being neighbours, Argentinian and Chilean Spanish are not so similar. Chileans don’t use the sh sound with the letters LL and Y. They also don’t use the vos form, but they do use ustedes.
Some people say Chilean Spanish is very difficult and even for me, as a native Argentinian, might be a bit difficult to understand only because Chilean is full of slang expressions, that we also don’t share with them.
This video talks about Chilean slang and expressions:
What is the difference between Argentine Spanish and Mexican Spanish?
The main differences between Argentinian and Mexican Spanish are similar as the differences with Spanish from Spain. Mexicans also speak with with the tú form of the 2nd person singular, but instead of vosotros, they use ustedes for the 2nd person plural.
This rule applies for the rest of Latin America, except for Argentina and Uruguay where the form tú is not used.
The slang is also very different than Argentinians and Spanish. For example, the word “fresa” in Mexico is used to describe someone “posh“, while in Argentina that word is cheto or cheta. In Spain, posh would be pijo or pija, which means something completely different in Argentina.
At the same time, fresa means strawberry and is used that way in Mexico and Spain, because in Argentina we call it frutilla (and yes, we pronounce it frutisha). Fun right?
This funny video from Easy Spanish asks people in Argentina, Mexico and Spain which one is their favourite accent in the Spanish speaking countries. Take a look at it to grasp how differently they sound.