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Learning How To Speak Colombian Spanish: Basic Expressions (With Video)

in Colombia Travel Blog

keep calm and speak spanishIts time to learn how to speak Colombian Spanish!

Colombian Spanish basic expressions are quite similar to those of regular Spanish.

Colombia, Venezuela, and Argentina are all known for speaking the “best Spanish” dialects in terms of clarity and grammar.

Everyone generally considers the language in the country to be just one entire “Colombian Spanish” group but in reality there are many different dialects throughout the country.

One must understand that Colombia is roughly twice the size of Texas or larger than the combined size of the UK, France, and Germany.

It is similar to comparing the accents of someone from Boston, New York City, and California. Similar regions in Europe would be the same as well.

Colombians do generally speak a more formal and better understood dialect of Spanish as a whole. The only exception with would be the coast.

If anyone was considering learning Spanish I would recommend to learn in Medellin, Colombia.  It isn’t just about the quality of Spanish spoken in the city but also the mannerisms and quality of life.  I recently decided to have a home base here and recently purchased a 5 bedroom penthouse.

While the penthouse is part of our plans to start a day trading center here in Medellin to train locals it will for travelers for accommodation but that more on that in a future post.

Here is a quick video on some of the common sayings, basic expressions, and regular sayings from here in Medellin, Colombia. Watch the learning how to speak Colombian Spanish video on YouTube if you have any issues below.

Variations in Dialects

The biggest difference in variance of the Colombian Spanish dialects is between the coast and the rest of the country. I have always found it very unique that Colombians tend to live within the center of the country rather than the coast as with most societies.

The slave trade brought the Spanish to the coastal city of Cartagena and it turned into an important maritime city and port. Because of the influence of African culture from the slaves that were brought to work the coastal dialect has much more slang and locals speak more similar to Cubans. The culture of the coast also depicts more of a Caribbean Latin culture rather than that of typical South Americans.

That is of course if one can define “South American” culture.

Since there is more European influence in the interior parts of the country the Spanish spoken in the interior is more formal, has less slang, and words are more thoroughly pronounced.

The “Paisa” Accent

A person who is a Paisa is known to be from the state of Antioquia in Colombia.  It is the same as saying someone is a Floridian, Sicilian, or Catalan.

The Paisa accent, in my opinion, is one of the best accents to learn because of how it is spoken. The culture and people of Medellin are known to be extremely kind, gracious, and outgoing.

This reflects how the culture treats one another and is a direct result of how the language is spoken.

The Paisa accent as mentioned in the video above also sounds very passionate and affectionate.  This of course is the reason why Colombian woman are sought after around the world.

They have great personalities.

This is very similar to how many state that French is the language of love.  I would say that the Paisa accent is similar to French, it can easily be called the Spanish language of love because of how it is spoken.

Formalities

One of the things that absolutely blew me away when I first arrived in Colombia (mostly in Medellin and the state of Antioquia) was how formal everyone was.  This goes back to the unique culture that can be found in Medellin, Colombia.

Colombians are known for being formal and open but the people of Medellin take this to a whole new level.

Instead of thank you they say always “my pleasure” – con gusto

Many times when my Colombian friends refer to one another they use the formal version of “usted” rather than the informal “tu” that is commonly used in Spanish.

Friends and family will often refer to each other as my love “mi amor” or “corazon”

While Latin people are known for being much more open and nicer than others there is a distinct difference with the people of Medellin. Another reason to learn how to speak Colombian Spanish.

Colombian Basic Expressions

Some of these sayings below are Paisa but are also used in various parts of the Colombia. The most common saying that everyone says is “parce”. This can be translated into the American version of bro or the Australian and British version of mate.

Another very unique aspect of the Colombian Spanish dialect is the use of “o que“, “no“, or “pues“.

  • o que - Defined as “or what”.
    • Common sayings:
      • Estas bien or que? – Are you doing well or what?
      • Quieres comer o que? – You want to eat or what?
      • Or my favorite the taxi drivers always ask me, Te gustan las mujeres o que? Do you like the women or what?
  • “o no” – Defined as “or no”
    • Similar to above common sayings:
      • Estas bien o no? – Are you doing well or no?
      • Quieres comer o no? – You want to eat or no?
  • The Colombian version of “pues” – This is like saying well
      • Que mas pues? – Well what’s up?
      • Vamos pues? – Well let’s go!

These are some of the Colombian Spanish basic expressions that are truly Colombian and also Paisa. In every country in Latin America there is generally a word or two that will give someone away as to where they are from.

Pues, parce, and the verbiage of “o que” and “o no” are 100% Colombian and specifically Paisa.

The last term that is typically used in Colombia is “bacano”.  Pronounced Bah-kah-no it is used to describe something cool or awesome.

Learning how to pronounce Colombian Spanish & Basic Expressions

Typically in the Spanish language double L’s are pronounced as Y’s.  The word “llamar” which means to call is pronounced “yamar”. Similarly, Medellin would be pronounced Medeyin typically in any other part of Latin America.

One of the most unique aspects of Colombian Paisa Spanish is the pronunciation of the double L’s as G’s and not as Y’s.

This would mean that Medellin would be pronounced Medegin and llamar would be pronounced as gamar. It is important to note that it is not a G like the sound of Gilbert, it would be a G like the sound of the letter G.

I will soon be updating the site with a post on how to speak Venezuelan Spanish.  Peruse below the videos and posts we already have for other Spanish speaking countries:

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