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Chilean Spanish

Chile, like most Latin American countries, has its own way of speaking the Spanish language. Although the basic grammar and syntax of the language are intact, there are several variations that define Chilean Spanish.

Chilean Slang Book

Chilenismos: A Dictionary and Phrasebook for Chilean Spanish
Tasting Chile bookChile is known for having created an enormous amount of distinct words and expressions. Consequently, the Spanish spoken in Chile is frequently indiscernible to gringos and native Spanish speakers alike. This dictionary and phrasebook collects more than 1,500 terms and idioms, known as chilenismos, and expresses them in simple English. The book also explores the roots of chilenismos and explains the grammatical constructions and idiosyncratic speech patterns particular to Chileans.
Buy Chilenismos: A Dictionary and Phrasebook for Chilean Spanish from Amazon.com

In addition to the large collection of Chilean slang, here are some speaking habits most often used in informal situations.

Words ending in -ado become -ao

The tendency with words ending in -ado is to aspirate or condense this last syllable to create an -ao sound. Chileans like to talk fast, and this facilitates this end. For example,

  • pasado = pasao
  • For example: el tiempo ya está pasao
  • lado = lao
  • For example: se encuentra al otro lao

Familiar verb conjugation: “vo”

The familiar form of addressing a person in Spanish is “tú.” This is usually conjugated like this:

  • hablar (to speak) = tú hablas (you speak)
  • vivir (to live) = tú vives (you live)
  • querer (to want) = tú quieres (you want)

However, Chileans like to use a customized version of the tú form. This is “vo.” This form is created by conjugating the verb in vosotros and then dropping the final 's'. The aforementioned examples become the following when using “vo”:

  • hablar (to speak) = hablái (you speak)
  • vivir (to live) = viví (you live)
  • querer (to want) = queréi (you want)

Ending phrases with “po”

“Po” is a derivative of the Spanish “pues” that is often used as a link between sentences or phrases in speaking. “Po” gets thrown on the end of many things. For example:

  • ¿Cómo estás? Bien po.
  • ¿Fuiste al mercado? Sí, po

Chileans speak their minds

The Chilean people aren't afraid to share their opinion and thoughts. Ask someone what they think, and they'll tell you without any sugar coating. You don't even have to ask sometimes to get them to share their opinion.

A good example of this would be Chileans' reaction to the way I spoke Spanish. After being in Chile for almost two years, I'd talk to one person and they'd tell me my Spanish was awful. I'd go next door and they'd say “wow, your Spanish is great.” Or if I hadn't seen someone in awhile, they would never hesitate to comment on how much weight I'd gained or lost!

Read more about Chilean Spanish and its usage in daily life in the Gringo's Culture Guide to Chile.


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