The Essential Guide to All 21 Spanish

Speaking Countries & Their Accents

By Nadia Hlebowitsh

Can you name all 21 Spanish speaking countries? Go on, give it a try. Maybe you can list off a handful, or perhaps you’re a genius and know them all. (Did you remember the one in Africa?)

But we’re pretty sure that you don’t know the accents for all 21 Spanish speaking countries. Well – or shall I say pues, pue’, po or bueno – that’s a whole different story.

Below, you’ll find a list of all 21 Spanish speaking countries with info about each of their accents. By reading our guide, you’ll get a clear idea of how people from that country speak. If you’re planning to take a trip to a Spanish speaking country, you can get the inside scoop on your destination and impress locals with your efforts. Along the way, you might even learn some slang and Spanish curse words to sound more native.

Ready to start our tour around all 21 Spanish speaking countries? ¡Vamos!

  1. Argentina
  2. Bolivia
  3. Chile
  4. Colombia
  5. Costa Rica
  6. Cuba
  7. Dominican Republic
  8. Ecuador
  9. El Salvador
  10. Equatorial Guinea
  11. Guatemala
  12. Honduras
  13. Mexico
  14. Nicaragua
  15. Panama
  16. Paraguay
  17. Peru
  18. Puerto Rico
  19. Spain
  20. Uruguay
  21. Venezuela


Quick Note

Of course, every Spanish speaking country is extraordinarily diverse. Even within the same borders, you can find countless different accents and ways of talking. Our guide will touch on the basics and try to define where there are multiple possibilities for pronunciation in that country.



Argentina is the land of Che. Not just the famous revolutionary figure Che Guevara, but also the phrase che meaning “hey” or “so.” The first thing you’ll notice about the Argentine accent is that che is peppered into speech all the time. It can be added at the beginning or end of a sentence, and is almost always used casually. What do you think about that, ¿che?

This Spanish speaking country also has a different system of conjugating verbs. In the Rioplatense region (Argentina and Uruguay), they use vos instead. This means they change how the singular second person verb ends and is pronounced. The emphasis should always be on the last syllable when you use vos. Here we’ll refresh your memory on using vos:

  • Instead of tienes = tenés
  • Instead of quieres = querés
  • Instead of puedes = podés
  • Instead of eres = sos

Another big giveaway that you’re in the Rioplatense region is how they pronounce LL and Y. Unlike other countries where you would pronounce it like a Y, here they say “zhh” or “shh” with a buzz in it. (Think of the intense “shh” sound when you’re trying to tell somebody to be quiet.) This goes for both LL and Y. A simple sentence like “Yo me llamo/My name is” would be said “Sho me shamo.”

Argentines also have a reputation for being fast speakers, but luckily not too fast. Oftentimes, Argentines will take their time to emphasize what they’re saying. Many say Argentine Spanish even sounds Italian. So, if you want to imitate it, think of your favorite Godfather character and add some Italian snazz.


Words & phrases:

  • Boludo – goofy, stupid, silly (sometimes shortened to “bo”)
  • Fiaca – laziness, lack of energy
  • Guita money
  • Quilombo a mess
  • Pelotudo huge idiot
  • Fuera de joda a phrase meaning “talking seriously”



Bolivia is a Spanish speaking country with lots of indigenous influences. In fact, the many accents spoken in Bolivia are diverse and depend highly on the region. Luckily, Bolivian Spanish is known for being spoken precisely, so hopefully you’ll be able to hear these differences easily.

First of all, Bolivia uses both and vos, but vos is more popular. Generally, is spoken more in western Bolivia and vos in eastern Bolivia. However, it depends on the specific region and person. After speaking with somebody for a few minutes, you’ll be able to figure out which second person form they’re using. If you’re not sure, stick with vos.

You better add lots of pues to your speech because, pues, they use it every other word. (Kidding, not kidding.) It’s so common that it almost sounds like a filler word such as “um.” Remember that in Bolivian Spanish, the final S is rarely pronounced, so pues is more like pue’.

Other Bolivianisms: they often use the ending -ingo (instead of -ito) and -ango (instead of -ote). So, if there’s something chico (small), you wouldn’t say chiquitito, but rather chiquitingo. If you wanted to say something grande (large), you would replace grandote with grandango. We adore these diminutives!

Other endings that shift include -ado/ido, especially in eastern Bolivia. Instead of -ado, they leave out the D. So, basically the same thing, right? We know it’s tricky at first. A good example is “El mercado vende helado/The store sells ice cream.” Here, Bolivians would say “El merca’o vende hela’o.”


Words & phrases:

  • Yapa a little more, an additional amount
  • ¿No ve? right?
  • Michi bad quality
  • Tusar to badly cut hair
  • Achacar – to blame



Chilean Spanish is so fast and distinctive that even native Spanish speakers have trouble understanding it. (Yikes!) Chileans are speed demons when it comes to speaking, so fair warning. These top speeds may be tricky at first, but we’re going to break down the accent so you get a better sense of it.

There are several reasons why Chilean Spanish sounds speedy. The first is that Chileans don’t pronounce the S at the end of words. Instead, they let out a puff of air that is barely noticeable. A sentence like “Vamos a comer las hamburguesas/Let’s eat the burgers” will sound more like “Vamo’ a comer la’ hamburguesa’.” This can be a source of confusion for Spanish learners because of the way it’s all squished together. But also because there are issues knowing whether Chileans are saying something in plural or singular.

Of course, other words are cut off or shortened too. For example, para el or para la is shortened into pa’l or pa’la. Chileans also don’t pronounce the D when it’s surrounded by vowels. That includes -do/da endings. Let’s look at an example of both: “Fue al supermercado para el pescado/He went to the store for the fish.” This would be said something like “Fue al supermerca’o pa’l pesca’o.” Talk about marbles in your mouth!

Chilean Spanish is also distinct for its use of po. You’ll definitely hear po on the streets – and multiple times in the same sentence! It comes from the word pues, meaning “well” or “so.” Po is everywhere, so go on and sprinkle it into your speech!

You should also be aware that Chileans have also invented their own verbs tenses unique from other Spanish speaking countries. For verbs that end in -ar they add the ending -ai and for verbs that end in -er/ir, they just use –i. And you thought you knew all the verb tenses! Let’s give some examples:

  • Instead of hablas = hablai
  • Instead of llamas = llamai
  • Instead of estas = estai
  • Instead of quieres = querí

Now that’s a challenge for you!


Words & phrases:

  • ¿Cachai? – got it? you know?
  • Bacán cool, awesome
  • Pololo/la boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Al tiro right now, at once
  • Taco traffic jam
  • Pinchintún a little bit, a small portion of something
  • Carrete party



In this Spanish speaking country, diversity is the name of the game. Colombia has many different accents depending on the region, but today we’ll go through some of the general characteristics. Ready to tackle Colombian Spanish? Shakira would be proud.

First things first: Colombians use usted a lot. Perhaps you’ve been to other Spanish speaking countries and gotten away with using or even vos, but play it safe in Colombia by using the formal form usted. Even between friends and family, Colombians will use usted. If you think that’s weirdly formal, it’s not really. Usted has become so common in everyday speech that it’s used like a kind of .

Here’s where Colombia’s diversity makes it a little tricky. Some regions will use and some will use vos. There’s a little of everything! When in doubt, listen to how the other person is addressing you and try to imitate him/her. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with usted.

Another pitfall to watch out for: Colombians pronounce LL and Y differently than Argentina or Uruguay. In this Spanish speaking country, they’ll pronounce the LL as a J. A great example is the beautiful city of Medellín, which Colombians pronounce “‘Me-de-jin.” Some speakers will also pronounce the Y this way. For example, yo will be pronounced “joe.” However, other Colombians will maintain the traditional Y sound.

Also, Colombians use the word pues all the time (like Chileans say po), so go on and try to fit it into your sentences. Pues, you can do it! Another cute thing Colombians do is add -ico/a instead of the traditional -ito/a. So, instead of gatito, they say gatico. Or instead of calentito, they use calientico. Gatico calentico – aww is right!


Words & phrases:

  • Hagale Pues – sure, ok, go for it
  • Chévere – cool or nice
  • Sisas – yes
  • ¿Qué más? – how are you?
  • Rumba – party
  • Parcero – friend


Costa Rica

Get ready for lots of pura vida in the Costan Rican accent. Pura vida is a common Costan Rican phrase that means good, cool or ok. If you’re going to fit into this Spanish speaking country, you should use it often.

In general, the Costa Rican accent is considered fairly neutral and isn’t spoken too fast. (A linguistic paradise!) The first thing you’ll notice is that they use lots of usted. Everybody calls everybody else usted, so follow their lead. Whatever you do, don’t use . Costa Ricans don’t really use ; when they use informal you, they opt for vos. If you want to stay on the safe side, just stick with usted.

You might also notice that Costa Ricans don’t roll their Rs much and instead will make more of an L sound. This isn’t the case for every region, but keep your ears open. They also use the endings -ico/a instead of -ito/a, so you’re likely to hear words like momentico. So cute!


Words & phrases:

  • Tuanis – good, cool
  • Mae – dude
  • ¡Qué guava! – what luck!
  • Al chile – really, seriously
  • Lata – bus
  • Fajarse – work hard



Cuban Spanish is a fusion of different African, Latin and European influences. The biggest challenge with Cuban Spanish is that they shave off sounds. Or sometimes certain sounds will be said unemphasized or softly, making it more difficult to understand. Let’s look at the main ones so you can sharpen your ears.

Like Chileans, Cubans don’t like that final S. They will often ignore it, or give it a puff of air instead. This gives the accent a clipped feeling. For example, “Dáme los platos/Hand me the plates” would become “Dáme lo’ plato’.” This also happens for the D sound in those famous -ado/ido endings too. Instead of pronouncing the D, Cubans will drop it and just emphasize the A. So, if somebody asks, “¿Estás cansado?/Are you tired?” in this Spanish speaking country, it will sound more like “¿Está’ cansa’o?”

Another characteristic in this Spanish speaking country is the sentence order for questions. Often, Cubans will place the subject before the verb, instead of after it. In traditional Spanish, you might ask something like “¿Qué quieres comer tú?/What do you want to eat?” On the other hand, in Cuba they say, “¿Qué tú quieres comer?” which is a little different.


Words & phrases:

  • Baro – money
  • Fachao – hungry
  • Jugar a los bomberos – to take a bath
  • Yumas – foreigners
  • Asere – friend


Dominican Republic

As a Spanish speaking country in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic has diverse influences: indigenous, Latin, African and Spanish. This makes for a unique kind of Spanish!

Dominican Spanish is known for its way of clumping words together. Sentences go lightning fast, so you better pay attention. Dominican Spanish has a lot of “shortcuts” that can make your head spin if you’re not used to it. Let’s take a closer look.

Basically, drop any unnecessary sounds. What’s necessary? Well, for starters, forget the S. Like other countries we’ve talked about, people don’t say it at the end of words. In addition, forget about the D in -ado/-ido endings. From there, you should try to make the sentence as compact as possible. For example, let’s use the phrase “How are you?”. While other countries say “¿Cómo estás tú?”, Dominicans will say “¿Cómo tú ’ta?” A common response is “ta to” meaning “está todo bien.” Talk about fast!

Another important sound is the R and L at the end of words. The pronunciation here depends on the region. Some Dominicans won’t pronounce them at all and instead say them with an I sound. To add confusion, others pronounce the R at the end of words as an L, and other regions the reverse. Our recommendation is that you don’t worry about imitating all these variations, but try to hear the differences so you can understand what’s being said.


Words & phrases:

  • Alebrestado – excited about something
  • Bacano – cool
  • Chin – a little, a bit
  • Colmado – corner store
  • Pana – bro, pal



Ecuadorian Spanish is an intriguing accent because it incorporates Kichwa words (the language of the Quechua people). So, when you speak Ecuadorian Spanish, you’ll be learning two languages in one!

In this Spanish speaking country, many speakers drop their Ss – surprise, surprise! It’s a trend up and down the Americas, but here it also holds true. So, swallow the S at the end of words. Ecuadorians also use -ito/ita all the time, adding them to numerous words to make them sound nice or cute. For example, ahorita, poquitito, aguita, enfermita… basically, any word you want. Go wild with cuteness!

Remember that Ecuadorians also use Kichwa words. Here are some good ones to get you started:

  • Sumak – good, great, excellent
  • Achachai – cold
  • Mashi – friend
  • Chullo – one
  • Chancleta – flip-flops


Words & phrases:

  • Atatay – horrible
  • Bacán – cool
  • Buena facha – great style
  • Jamar – to eat
  • ¡Chendo! – just kidding!
  • ¡Chuta! – crap!


El Salvador

Unlike some of their neighbors, this Spanish speaking country uses vos. Surprised? El Salvador has more in store for you. Salvadoran Spanish, also called caliche, has an unusual mix of different elements.

Besides using vos like Argentina – remember “vos querés” instead of “tú quieres” – Salvadoran Spanish also uses some Nahuatl words, which are historically Aztec words. These include linguistic gems like elote (corn), chapulín (grasshopper) and papalote (kite). If that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is!

Finally, in this Spanish speaking country, there are some specific pronunciations to keep in mind:

  • Drop the S at the end of words.
  • Often M is said like N. For example “Fui caminando/I went walking” would sound something like “Fui caninando.”
  • Often Z and C are said like S. For example, “El zorro ensucio mis zapatos/The fox got my shoes dirty” would sound like “El sorro ensusio mis sapatos.


Words & phrases:

  • Vaya pues – well
  • Cabal – exactly
  • Bayunco – crazy
  • Arrecho – great, perfect
  • Chero – good friend
  • Chivo – ok, nice, great
  • Vea – for real


Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish speaking country located on the African continent. Never heard of it before? You have now! Equatorial Guinea is a small country on the western coast of Africa. It has Spanish linguistic roots because it became a Spanish colony in 1778 and didn’t gain full independence until 1968. For this reason, Equatoguinean Spanish best reflects the Spanish accent (from Spain).

A few defining characteristics include:

  • They use Spanish verb tenses. That means and vosotros! Remember that vosotros is like ustedes, except the conjugation is different (for present tense = -ais/eis/is).
  • There’s a lot of flexibility with pronoun subjects. It’s commonplace to use usted with the tu verb tense, for example. Or even to use vosotros with the ustedes verb tense.
  • Spanish learners will be overjoyed with this one: there’s no difference between subjunctive and indicative tenses in this Spanish speaking country. That means you can throw subjunctive out the window!
  • Lots of words are cut out. So, articles (el/la/los/las) are often omitted, as well as prepositions like de/a/en. We’re liking the simplicity!
  • Unlike many Spanish speaking countries on this list, you do want to pronounce and emphasize the S at the end of words! ¡Sí, señor!



Looking for a pure Spanish accent? Welcome to Guatemala! This Spanish speaking country has one of the most neutral accents around. It’s clear, precise and uses all the major verb tenses. Guatemalan Spanish is a great springboard for understanding all other accents in Spanish.

Remember that in Guatemala, speakers use tú, vos and usted. Depending on the context, Guatemalans will choose among these three choices. Generally speaking, usted is used to signal respect for those of higher authority, is a standard professional way to address somebody and vos is for informal or intimate situations.

While Guatemalan Spanish is neutral and clear, you may notice a few subtleties in their speech. For example, Guatemalan Spanish has been influenced by Mayan languages, which often utilize the SH sound, written as CH or X. You may notice that Guatemalans use the SH sound often, especially in place of X. This is best seen in the Guatemalan town Xela, commonly  pronounced as “SHEL-lah.”

Otherwise this Spanish speaking country follows other common regional pronunciation trends. For example, they don’t show a difference between the S, C and Z sounds. (The words casa and caza sound identical.) They also leave out the D in -ado/ido endings and pronounce Y and LL in the same way. Finally, they may pronounce final Ns in a nasal way, almost with an NG sound.


Words & phrases:

  • Chapín/Chapina – Guatemalan
  • ¡Qué chilero! – nice, beautiful
  • Dos que tres – so-so
  • Tener cuello – to have influence, pull
  • Cabal – spot on
  • Cerote – dude, bro
  • Pisto – money


Beaches aren’t the only beautiful thing Honduras is known for. Their accent is also considered charming. Because this Spanish speaking country is neighbors with Guatemala, their accents share similarities. Like Guatemalan Spanish, Hondurans use tú, vos and usted across the board. Once again, vos is reserved for familiar or intimate settings, while is a standard semi-formal address and usted is for formal use.

Honduran Spanish is also heavily influenced by Aztec and Mayan indigenous languages, so you’re likely to hear the X pronounced as SH. You may also hear the final S and the S before consonants weakened. Instead, it will sound like a puff of air or an airy H. So, in the case of the common phrase “Buenas noches/Good evening” it will sound like “Buena’ noche’.”

In addition, the N at the end of the word is often made nasal into an NG sound. A good example of this is the word bien (well), which becomes nasal into “bieng.” While a slight difference, it’s key to note when chatting with locals in this Spanish speaking country.

Words & phrases:

  • Catracho/a – Honduran
  • Alero – close friend
  • Bélico – amazing, cool
  • Cheque – ok, alright
  • Pijin – party
  • Birria – beer
  • Trucha – corner shop


Mexico has the most Spanish speakers of any country in the world – ¡Órale! In this big Spanish speaking country, is king. is the primary form of address, most often used in informal settings, especially with friends. Vos is almost never used, except in some rural regions.

Another feature of Mexican Spanish? Mexicans pepper their speech with diminutives. The endings -ito/ita are extremely common. In fact, ahorita is a typical phrase meaning “right now” or “in a little while.” However, they also use the ending -ote, which makes the word large; and -uc(h)o/a, which is used to show a disparaging attitude. For example, the sentence “Mi hijo vive en una casucha/My son lives in a hovel” uses the ending -ucha to show this parent’s negative attitude about the son’s living situation. If you want to sound more Mexican, pop these endings onto your words!

Like many Central American countries, Mexico also has indigenous influences. Many indigenous-influenced words in Mexican Spanish have become mainstream. Just look at the word aguacate (avocado), or other cases such as guajolote (turkey), papalote (kite) and jitomate (tomato). The influence of Nahuatl words is especially strong.

In addition, Mexico borders the U.S., which means that Mexican Spanish is packed with English loan words. While this happens to some extent across Latin America, Mexican Spanish has even more than other countries. Words like baby shower, hobby, look, chance and cool have all become part of the linguistic diversity of Mexico. Sentences like “voy a comprar un regalo para el baby shower” are completely normal in this Spanish speaking country.

Mexican Spanish also differs in its use of le and lo. Mexicans will often add te and le to commands and requests that don’t require them. They do this to make the request sound friendlier or more personal. For example, you could say “Cántate el tema que me gusta/Sing the song that I like.” In reality, the command form only requires you to say canta, but in Mexican Spanish they add the extra te.

Words & phrases:

  • Chido – cool, fun
  • ¡Órale! – wow! right on!
  • ¿Mande? – sorry? what?
  • ¡Qué padre! – cool!
  • ¡Aguas! – look out!
  • Ya mero – almost 


Nicaraguan Spanish, also called nicañol, is filled with quirky sayings and borrowings. Unlike many of their neighbors, Nicaraguans use vos instead of tú. In fact, is only really used in literature, so go for vos when talking with friends and family.

In this Spanish speaking country, you’ll find a unique pronunciation of P, T and K sounds typically found in English loan words. Nicaraguans pronounce these sounds as a K or C. So, don’t be surprised if you hear something like “Mi laptop no se conecta a internet/My laptop doesn’t connect to the internet” pronounced as “Mi lactoc no se conecta a internec.”

Nicaraguan Spanish also follows common Central American Spanish-isms. Like Mexico, they use Nahuatl borrowings. In addition, it’s normal to drop the S at the end of a word. Instead, Nicaraguans use a puff of air to finish the word. For example, “muchachos” is pronounced “muchacho’” instead.

Two final pronunciation tips: this Spanish speaking country uses the disappearing D for -ado/ido endings and the final N is often pronounced as an NG sound. To remind you how these rules work, let’s look at this sentence: “Los hipsters ponen el aguacate en las tostadas/Hipsters put avocado on toast.” This would be said as “Los hipster’ poneng el aguacate en las tosta’a’.”

Last but not least, you should know about the word chunche, meaning thingamajig or whatchamacallit. Writer Sergio Ramírez chose chunche as the word that best represents Nicaragua. If you want to sound like a native Nicaraguan, chunche is your best bet.

Words & phrases:

  • Ahuevado angry, annoyed
  • Chimbomba balloon
  • Salvaje – awesome, impressive
  • Cuecho – gossip
  • A todo mamón – at full speed
  • Ideay – why?/wow! 


In this Spanish speaking country, it’s important to tomárselo suave (take it easy). Panamanian Spanish has several influences, including English loan words. Because of the Panama Canal, Panamanians were exposed to English and incorporated words such as switch, fren (friend), guy and parquear (park).

Besides English borrowings, Panamanian Spanish also has some unique pronunciation. Specifically the CH often is said as SH instead. For example, mucho is more like musho. In a sentence such as “Escuchamos la banda anoche/We listened to the band last night,” Panamanians would say “Escushamos la banda anoshe.”

In addition, Panamanian Spanish often places the subject pronoun before the verb in questions, unlike other countries. For example, it’s common to hear a question phrased “¿Cómo tú andas?/How are you?” with the subject pronoun tú. Remember that in this Spanish speaking country, is more common than vos. However, in southern Panama, vos is sometimes used as well. When in doubt, stick with and usted.

Finally, Panamanian Spanish displays similarities to other Central American countries. They’ve got the disappearing D in -ado/ido endings and also the final S that becomes an airy H. As you can see, Panamanian Spanish is a wonderful blend of influences.

Words & phrases:

  • Birrioso – fan, enthusiast
  • ¡Chuleta! – wow!
  • Chingongo – chewing gum
  • Pavearse – to play hookie, skip class
  • Chopear – to shop
  • Buco – a lot
  • Vaina – thing
  • Offi – ok, yes


Prepare yourself, because Paraguayan Spanish is considered the most difficult accent to understand. That’s because Spanish here is mixed with Guaraní, the local indigenous language. In fact, Guaraní is the dominant language of Paraguay, with 90% of the population speaking it.

You’ll hear a ton of Guaraní tossed into Paraguayan Spanish, including phrases and grammatical elements. For example, to say “Vamos por favor/Let’s go please,” a Paraguayan would say “Vamos na,” since na means “please” in Guaraní. These borrowings are everywhere in Paraguayan Spanish. Some common ones are: ¡Mbore! (no way!) or gua’u (lie).

At the same time, this Spanish speaking country is heavily influenced by its neighbors, especially Argentina. The Argentine expression che is common in Paraguay, for example. Likewise, Paraguayans use vos instead of , which is practically nonexistent. Forget about and bust out your best vos here.

That’s not all, folks. Paraguayan Spanish is unique in other ways as well. Sometimes the TR is pronounced as TCH instead. You can see this in a sentence such as “Trabajamos como traductores/We work as translators.” Paraguayans would say this as “Tchabajamos como tchaductores.” This isn’t true of all Paraguayans, but it’s fairly common.

You can also expect this Spanish speaking country to use le a lot more than usual. Paraguayans switch out direct object pronouns lo/la for le instead. So, instead of “Lo voy a llamar hoy/I’m going to call him today,” a Paraguayan would say “Le voy a llamar hoy.” Confusing? Usually this substitution is made for a male person (lo), so be on the lookout for lo especially.  

Finally, Paraguayans use the ending –í instead of -ito. So, you can imagine that “gatito” would be said as “gatí.” This is a must-know tip for making intimate or cute endings for words.

Words & phrases:

  • ¡Ma’ena! awwww!
  • ¿Y después? – What’s up?
  • Vaí-vaí – very bad (literally bad-bad)
  • Purete – awesome
  • Batacazo – windfall
  • Abatatarse – to lose one‘s nerve
  • Te voy a contar ahora después – I’ll tell you soon later on


The Peruvian accent is hands down one of the most well-spoken accents. Speakers here don’t cut off sounds or clip endings, so words can be understood more clearly than in other countries. Lucky for you, vowels are also more stable and are pronounced more slowly. The verdict’s in: the Peruvian accent is much easier than climbing Machu Picchu.

It’s important to note that there are regional differences in Peru, especially in the Amazon, so the Peruvian accent can vary greatly depending on where you are. For example, in some regional dialects, Peruvians will use Quechua borrowings or pronounce sounds in unique ways.

In general, standard Peruvian Spanish shows a difference between the R and the rolled RR. (Yay, clarity!) Speakers will also sometimes pronounce D as a T, especially at the end of words. So, a sentence like “La publicidad le dio felicidad/The publicity made him happy” may be said like “La publicidat le dio felicidat.”

In this Spanish speaking country, the words nomás and pues are used all the time, especially after verbs. Peruvians also use plenty of -ito/ita to make their speech more intimate or personal. Try adding these phrases to sound more native! They’re great filler words to make your conversation flow. ¡Dale, pues, mi amiguito!

Words & phrases:

  • ¡Ma’ena! awwww!
  • Bamba fake, imitation
  • Chamba work
  • Asado angry
  • Pata friend
  • Bacán – awesome, cool

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican Spanish is fast and furious. Here, speakers take lots of “shortcuts,” cutting off sounds and syllables. This can make it challenging to understand for Spanish learners, especially when spoken quickly.

In this Spanish speaking territory, it’s common to drop the final S; after a syllable, you should replace S with a soft H. In addition, the D in -ado/ido endings is also missing, as well as the final D. To demonstrate all four of these traits, check out this sentence: “La pared de la escuela ya está terminada/The wall of the school is now finished.” In Puerto Rican Spanish, this would be pronounced, “La pare’ de la ehcuela ya está termina’a.”

This Spanish speaking territory also follows the Caribbean trend of changing the R to an L sound. Puerto Ricans even joke about pronouncing their country as Puelto Lico. You can see this R-L exchange in the following sentence: “El amor es dolor/Love is pain,” which would be said as “El amol es dolol.”

Sometimes Puerto Ricans speak so fast and with so many dropped sounds that they eliminate entire syllables. (Oh my!) This is especially true of shorter words such as para. In the case of this sentence, “Traje dulces para los dos muchachos/I brought candy for the two boys,” it would be shortened to “Traje dulce’ pa’ lo’ do’ ‘chacho’.

Finally, Puerto Rican Spanish uses English loan words like crazy. Many Puerto Ricans even speak Spanglish, a blend of Spanish and English. Don’t be surprised if suddenly you hear English words mixed into Spanish sentences!

Words & phrases:

  • Boricua – Puerto Ricans
  • A fuego nice, great, attractive
  • ¡Wepa! – yay! great!
  • Chavos – cash
  • Gufiao – goofy
  • Al garete – going badly, disastrously
  • Hanguiar – hang out
  • Brutal – super awesome 


Castilian Spanish is the oldest Spanish dialect and sounds a bit silly to a Latin American speaker. There are three major differences between Castilian Spanish and Latin American dialects. Let’s go through them, ¿vale?

First, in this Spanish speaking country, they exclusively use vosotros instead of ustedes. This form of you plural (you all, you guys) is a distinguishing mark of Spain. So if you want to invite a group of friends to have dinner, you would say “¿Queréis salir a comer?/Do you guys want to go out to eat?” As a quick reminder, vosotros verbs use the áis, –éis and -ís endings in the present tense. ¿Entendéis?

Another big difference in Castilian Spanish is that the Z and C are often pronounced as TH. These lisp-like sounds are strange to Latin American ears. You can see this characteristic in the following sentence: “Compramos cinco pares de zapatos/We bought five pairs of shoes.” A Spaniard would say it like “Compramos thinco pares de thapatos.”

Finally, Castilian Spanish uses the present perfect tense much more often than other countries. Like English, it’s common to hear Spaniards talking in the present perfect. For example, a Spaniard could say the sentence “I’ve looked for a better gift” as “He buscado un mejor regalo.” However, in most Latin American dialects, only past simple would be used: “Busqué un mejor regalo.” If you’re in Spain, you’ll want to brush up on your present perfect tense!

Words & phrases:

  • Vale – ok
  • ¡Qué chulo! – how cool!
  • Ir a tapear – go get tapas
  • Coche – car
  • Tío – bro, pal, dude
  • Mono – adorable
  • Flipar – freak out, be surprised
  • Molar – to like


Tranqui, tranqui. In Uruguay, tranqui means chill out. After learning about the Uruguayan accent, you’ll feel tranquilazo (super chill). Uruguayan Spanish is in the Rioplatense family, in the same family as Argentina. In this Spanish speaking country, vos is very common, as well as the pronunciation of Y/LL as SH. You’ll also hear che sprinkled into speech.

Since Uruguay borders Brazil, it also has strong Brazilian influences. In Uruguayan border towns, almost half a million Uruguayans speak Portuñol, which is a mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Uruguayan Spanish on the border is distinct from the capital, as it uses many portuñol words and also the pronoun .

However, standard Uruguayan Spanish is mostly drawn from Italian immigrants. Just look to the food to see Italian influences: ñoquis and fainá are both common Uruguayan meals. In addition, you’re sure to hear the word ta constantly being used. Ta is a way of saying ok, alright or fine. While in Uruguay, try to use ta to sound like a native. ¿Ta?

Uruguayans will also use re- to make an adjective stronger. Similar to “very,” re- can be attached to the front of adjectives for dramatic effect. For example, a Uruguayan might say “Estamos re copados/We’re really interested.” The re- takes this adjective to the next level.

Words & phrases:

  • Bien de bien – ok
  • Salado – amazing, unbelievable
  • Bárbaro – great, wonderful
  • Bondi – bus
  • ¡Vamo’ arriba! – c’mon! cheers!
  • Todo tranqui – chill, all good


Last but not least, Venezuelan Spanish is a unique accent that brings together Italian, African and indigenous influences. In Venezuelan Spanish, it’s typical to clip some words, especially the final S and the D in -ado/ido endings. For example, the sentence “Vamos a comprar helado/Let’s get ice cream” would be said as “Vamo’ a comprar hela’o.”

In addition, Venezuelans use the -ico/a endings to make things smaller or cuter (instead of -ito/a). Just like Colombia, you may hear animals referred to as gatico (kitty) or conejico (bunny). Or Venezuelans may say “Espera un momentico/Wait a second.” They use the -ico/a ending frequently, so spice up your Spanish with it!

Finally, in this Spanish speaking country, is the most common pronoun. In specific regions, vos is also used, but is dominant. If you’re uncertain, stick with or usted.

Words & phrases:

  • Chévere – cool, nice
  • Pana – friend
  • Ladilla – annoying, bothersome
  • Chamo/a – dude, pal
  • Bolo – money
  • Burda – a lot, really

Bonus: Unofficial Spanish Speaking Countries

While there are 21 official Spanish speaking countries, other places throughout the world speak Spanish. In fact, some of the biggest populations of Spanish speakers are found in unofficial Spanish speaking countries, including:

  • U.S.: The U.S. has over 52 million Spanish speakers within its borders. The large amount of latinos living in the U.S. is tied to immigration from Mexico and other Latin American countries. The Spanish spoken in the U.S. varies greatly. While most immigrants come from Mexico or Puerto Rico, immigration and thus accents are diverse. In addition, all Spanish dialects spoken here are heavily influenced by English, with plenty of loan words.
  • Belize: While English is the official language of Belize, it has a sizeable native Spanish speaking population. Belize is located in the middle of Central America, so its Spanish most closely resembles nearby Caribbean Spanish.
  • Andorra: Located between Spain and France, this small country houses close to 30,000 Spanish speakers. As it borders Spain, most speak a variety of Castilian Spanish.
  • Gibraltar: Finally, 82% of Gibraltar is Spanish speaking as well. Because it borders Spain to the south, it has Castilian influences in its dialect.  

While Spanish is spoken throughout the world, it’s an official language in 21 countries and has a significant presence in four unofficial countries. To be fair, that’s not even taking into account the diversity of dialects within each country. It’s clear: the Spanish language is unbelievably diverse.

As you learn Spanish, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of the different types of Spanish accents found worldwide. If you’re interested in one particular country, you can also use our essential guide to study that Spanish dialect in more depth. For extra practice, you can even watch Netflix movies in Spanish specific for your Spanish speaking country.

We hope after reading this article that you are more aware of the diversity of the Spanish language and are able to use some local slang during your next trip, ¿dale? Or shall I say vale? Or ta? We have so many options to choose from!

Happy Spanish learning! 

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