Colombian Spanish: The Easiest Spanish Dialect with 50 Example Chunks

Spanish arrived in Colombia during the Spanish colonization in the 16th century, and it’s nowadays spoken with different roots from Spanish settlers (from Andalusia and other southern regions of Spain).

Colombian Spanish is considered one of the easiest Spanish dialects you can learn and it’s more of a geographical term rather than a strictly linguistic one. You can immediately check out what Colombian Spanish sounds like with this great video from Spring Spanish (a project I co-founded):

Colombia is a big country with different regions and traditions, so it’s good to be up-to-date with the latest Colombian Spanish chunks. In this blog post, you’ll find 50 examples!

1. What is Colombian Spanish exactly?

Effortless Answers

Colombian Spanish is not a single, homogenous dialect but rather a group of related dialects across different regions of the country. Differences can be found in pronunciation, vocabulary, and even grammar.

The major dialects in Colombian Spanish:

  1. Costeño (Coastal): Spoken along the Caribbean coast, influenced by indigenous and Afro-Caribbean elements.
  2. Paisa: Spoken in the Antioquia region, famous for its intonation and vocabulary.
  3. Cundiboyacense: Spoken in the central regions around Bogotá, considered more conservative.
  4. Opita: Spoken in the Valle del Cauca region, influenced by indigenous languages.

According to recent estimates from the Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales (ICEI), Colombian Spanish is spoken by about 48 million people within Colombia, which is around 99% of the country’s population.Colombian Spanish is also spoken by Colombian diaspora communities.

2. How is Colombian accent different?

Colombian Spanish might be the easiest of all but still shows some differences compared to standard Spanish or even Mexican Spanish or Cuban slang. Let’s check these differences one-by-one:

A guide to Colombian pronunciation

Colombian Spanish has a different pronunciation pattern that set it apart from other Spanish dialects. One of its features is the intonation: it can be described as “singing” or “melodic.” The rise and fall of pitch, elongation of certain syllables are all characteristics of Colombian Spanish.

Here’s an overview table where you can check the biggest differences:

Word/ExpressionColombian Spanish PronunciationStandard Spanish Pronunciation
“Esta” (This)“Eta”“Es-ta”
“Los niños” (The children)“Lo’ niño'”“Los ni-ños”
“Calle” (Street)“Caye”“Ca-lle”
“Llorar” (To cry)“Yorar”“Llo-rar”
“¿Cómo estás?” (How are you?)“¿Có-mo’ e’tá’?”“¿Có-mo es-tás?”
“Qué chevere” (How cool)“Que che-ve-re”“Qué che-ve-re”

You can see how in Colombian Spanish, the “s” sound is often weakened or omitted, as in “eta” for “esta” and “lo’ niño’” for “los niños.”

The “ll” and “y” sounds are merged into a single “y” sound, as in “caye” for “calle” and “yorar” for “llorar.”

Colombian dialect grammar

The use of the “voseo” (using “vos” instead of “” for the second-person singular) is widespread in Colombian Spanish.

This grammar difference has unique verb conjugations and forms:

Standard SpanishColombian Spanish (Voseo)
Tú eresVos sos (You are)
Tú tienesVos tenés (You have)
Tú comesVos comés (You eat)
Tú vasVos vas (You will)
Tú vivesVos vivís (You live)
Tú hablasVos hablás (You speak)

3. Colombian slang terms and phrases

Colombian Spanish is full of Spanish slang vocabulary! These expressions can’t be found in standard Spanish, or even if they are found, they mean something completely different.

colombian spanish flag in front of blue sky with clouds

Colombian Spanish is strange in terms of idiomatic expressions and sayings, too. (This is good if you want to use Conversation Based Chunking to learn it, because you can focus on these Spanish sayings and include them in your Spanish conversations.)

These Colombian idioms are usually humorous and have metaphorical meanings. Let’s take a look at these Colombian Spanish slang examples:

Colombian Spanish SlangEnglish Translation
ParceroFriend, buddy
BacanoCool, great
ChévereCool, awesome
ChimbaExcellent, amazing
ChuchoDog (affectionate)
Estar en la jugadaTo be involved, up-to-date
CacharTo understand
VerracoTough, difficult
ChinoFriend, pal
ChamacoKid, little one
TilicaAttractive person
ChuscoFunny, amusing
GomeloStylish, trendy
CuchoOld, used
ArrunchisTogether, close
CaleñoFrom Cali (city)
RumbearTo party, have fun
ParcheGroup of friends
CamelloHard work, difficult task
Estar cansónTo be tired
Agarrar peloTo get into a fight
ChambonadaSilly mistake
CachacoPerson from Bogotá
GuisaFood, dish
Dar papayaTo make it easy (for someone to take advantage)
Estar mamaoTo be angry, upset
Coger la locaTo get crazy, wild
Estar embobaoTo be distracted
Estar picaoTo be interested (romantically)
Buena genteGood person
Echar el cuentoTo tell a story
Estar caletaTo be broke, without money
Estar chirriTo be tipsy, slightly drunk
Estar en la pelaTo be in a difficult situation
PeladoDude, guy
PintaAppearance, look
Qué notaHow cool, nice
RayarTo exaggerate
Ser un ñeroTo be a troublemaker
Estar arrechoTo be angry, upset
Dar un aviónTo stand someone up
Estar embobaoTo be distracted
Estar embriagadoTo be drunk
Estar en perraTo be in a bad situation
Estar prendidoTo be excited, turned on
Estar relajadoTo be relaxed, calm
Estar saladoTo be unlucky

In a real-life situation, you could use them like this:

Pedro: ¿Qué más parcero? [What’s up friend?]
Gavi: Todo bacano [All good], pero tuve un camello verraco [but I had a tough situation].
Pedro: ¿Rumbear [Party] con el parche [group] esta noche? Estoy gomelo [looking stylish].
Gavi: Dale chimba [Let’s do it], pero anoche cogí la loca [I went wild] y estoy cansón [tired].
Pedro: No te embobés [Don’t get distracted] con una tilica [attractive girl] que te picó [you’re into].
Gavi: Tranquilo chamaco [Relax kid], aunque si me embriagó [if I get drunk], te doy un avión [I might ditch you].
Pedro: ¡Ñero! [Troublemaker!] Vamos antes de estar caleta [broke].
Gavi: ¡Chimba, arrunchis! [Excellent, let’s go!]

4. Differences between Colombian Spanish and Mexican Spanish

Although we already explored some differences between Colombian Spanish vs standard Spanish, you might still ask: is Colombian Spanish different than Mexican Spanish?

Well, Colombian Spanish is spoken a little differently than in Mexico.

A thing that makes Colombian Spanish unique is that they sometimes use the same sound for two different letters. For example, the “ll” and “y” letters sound the same to them, like in the word “calle” (meaning “street”), where they would pronounce it like “caye.”

Colombians also have some very special words that come from the languages of the indigenous people who lived there before. Words like “guayabo” (embarrassment) and “chévere” (cool) are examples of these. Mexicans also have their own words that come from their indigenous languages, like “náhuatl” and “cuate” (friend or buddy).

Curious to compare different Spanish dialects? Take a look at this video from Spring Spanish:

Both Colombians and Mexicans have different ways of speaking Spanish depending on which part of their country they come from. Colombian Spanish has been influenced by the languages and cultures of the Caribbean islands, while Mexican Spanish has been shaped by the indigenous languages and cultures of Mexico.

5. Learn Spanish dialects and Colombian phrases with Conversation Based Chunking

We already mentioned Conversation Based Chunking in this blog post, but it’s time to write a little bit more about it.

This method focuses on teaching you Spanish with the help of lexical chunks – these are the natural building blocks of the language. Chunks are what native speakers use when they speak the language – and they don’t even think about grammar or the correct Spanish sentence structure. So, why would you?

With Conversation Based Chunking, you’ll immerse yourself in the language and learn it naturally. Request your Spanish Chunking Starter Pack and get access to tons of content, including an essential chunking list, practice worksheets, and a chance to take a a 7-in-7 Challenge to get you on the best track to learn Spanish!

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