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Colombian Slang: 100 Words and Phrases to Sound like a True Colombian

Are you ready to learn some Colombian slang? Are you familiar with words like "chimba" or expressions like "estar tragado"? Whether you are planning to go to Colombia or you are following some of our exclusive Colombian TV series (e.g. Los Años Maravillosos, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa, and Tu Voz Estéreo), have we got some good Colombian Spanish slang to teach you today!

 

We have divided our list of Colombian slang words and phrases into the following four main categories:

 

1. Nouns

2. Adjectives

3. Verbs

4. Colombian sayings and expressions

 

As you will see, there is some overlap between categories. For instance, you will find the word "camello" (a job) under the "Nouns" category as well as the word "camellar" (to work hard) under the "Verbs" category.

 

That said, it is time to learn some very interesting stuff! If you are able to master the following list, you will be able to speak like a true Colombian. Let's have some fun!

 

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Nouns

 

1. bacán (a cool dude)

This one comes from the adjective "bacano," which means cool.

Example:

Ese tipo es un bacán (That guy is a cool dude).

 

2. berraquera (determination, something or someone very good)

A list of Colombian slang without the word "berraquera" on it would be incomplete. Let's look at some examples so we can understand how to use this very popular word:

Esa canción es una berraquera (That song is really good (literally "a really good one")).

El equipo jugó con berraquera y ganó el partido (The team played with determination and won the game).

 

3. boleta (an embarrassing situation or person)

Example:

Ese tipo es una boleta (That guy is an embarrassment).

 

4. caco (a thief)

Example:

Los cacos robaron el banco (The thieves robbed the bank). 

 

5. camello (a job, work)

When you say "un camello" in Colombia, you are referring to "a job." More generally, "camello" refers to "work," as in "Tengo mucho camello" (I have a lot of work to do).

Example:

Le traigo un regalito y le tengo un camello.

I'm bringing you a little gift and I have a job for you.

Caption 33, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 1

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6. cantaleta (constant scolding or nagging)

This is very useful Colombian slang when you want to indicate that someone is obsessed with something in the sense that he/she just keeps talking about the same thing over and over. "Cantaleta" is mostly associated with the action of scolding or nagging.

Example:

Que deje la vaina con esa actricita, hermano. ¡Otra vez es la cantaleta con usted! Parece novia fea.

For you to give up the thing with that little actress, brother. It's the nagging with you again! You seem like an ugly girlfriend.

Captions 11-13, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 6

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7. catorce (a favor)

Although "catorce" literally means "fourteen," it has another meaning in Colombian slang.

Example:

Dorita, ¿nos hace el catorce y la foto?

Dorita, will you do the favor of taking a picture?

Caption 60, X6 1 - La banda - Part 11

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8. chécheres (stuff)

The Colombian slang word chécheres is quite handy when you want to refer to a group of (mostly useless) things.

Example:

Esta sala está llena de chécheres (This living room is full of useless stuff).

 

9. chimba (a very cool person or thing)

"Chimba" is one of the most popular Colombian Spanish slang words there is! However, it is a word that can be used in many different ways. As a noun, "una chimba" is someone or something very cool.

Example:

Esa canción es una chimba (That song is very cool (literally "a very cool one").

Alternatively, the word "chimba" can be used as a synonym for "luck."

Example:

¡Me salvé de pura chimba! (I was saved by pure luck!)

 

10. chino/china (friend, dude, kid)

Although it literally means a person from China, chino/a is a Colombian slang term for "friend," which is used almost exclusively in Bogota. Additionally, this word can be used when talking about little kids.

Examples:

Oiga chino, ¿quiere ir a la fiesta? (Hey, dude, ¿do you want to go to the party?)

El parque estaba lleno de chinos (The park was full of kids).

 

11. chucha (bad body odor, referring to the armpits)

Example:

Luis tiene chucha. Debería usar desodorante (Luis has B.O. He should use deodorant).

 

12. churrias (diarrhea)

This colorful Colombian Spanish slang is usually used with the verb "tener" in the expression "tener churrias."

Example:

No puedo ir a la reunión. ¡Tengo churrias! (I can't go to the meeting. I have diarrhea!)

 

13. churro (a handsome guy)

Example:

Brad Pitt es un churro (Brad Pitt is a handsome guy).

 

14. chuspa (a plastic bag)

This is one of the Colombian slang words you will need to know when going to the supermarket. 

Example:

¿Me puede dar dos chuspas, por favor? (Could you give me two plastic bags, please?)

 

15. descache (a mistake, blunder, or faux pas)

Example:

El chiste de Ricardo fue un descache (Ricardo's joke was a faux pas).

The verb form of this noun is very often used in soccer/football when a player misses a good opportunity to score.

Example:

Ronaldo se descachó (Ronaldo missed his chance/didn't score the goal).

 

16. embarrada (a bad thing, a big mistake, someone terrible or slightly crazy)

Examples:

Ese chino es la embarrada (That kid is terrible).

Conocerte fue la peor embarrada de mi vida (Meeting you was the worst mistake of my life).

 

17. gallinazo (a man who likes to flirt)

 

18. gomelo/gomela (a snob)

Generally speaking, a "gomelo" or "gomela" is someone who is young and comes from a very rich family. On top of that, gomelos tend to act in a very loud and arrogant manner.

Example:

Esa universidad está llena de gomelos (That university is full of snobs).

 

19. guachafita (chaos, disorder)

Example:

"¡Qué guachafita!", dijo el profesor cuando vio a sus alumnos corriendo y gritando en el teatro.

"What chaos!" said the teacher when he saw his students running and screaming in the theatre.

 

20. guache (a very rude or poor-mannered person)

Example:

El esposo de Claudia grita todo el tiempo. ¡Es un guache! (Claudia's husband screams all the time. He is a very rude person!)

 

21. guaro (a drink, usually the famous Colombian aguardiente)

Example:

¡Vamos a tomarnos un guaro! (Let's go have a drink!)

 

22. guayabo (hangover)

And of course, if you have lots of "guaros," you will probably have a big "guayabo."

Example:

y muere nuevamente cansado y con guayabo, que es la palabra que utilizamos los colombianos para decir resaca.

and dies again, tired and with a "guayabo," which is the word we Colombians use to say hangover.

Captions 79-81, Cleer y Lida El Carnaval de Barranquilla - Part 2

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23. jincho/jincha (drunk)

Example:

Pedro ya estaba jincho cuando llegó a la fiesta (Pedro was already drunk when he got to the party).

 

24. llave (friend, dude)

Literally, "llave" means "key." However, this is also another Colombian slang word for a pal. 

Example:

¿Cómo está llave? (How are you, dude?)

 

25. lucas (Colombian pesos)

Example:

Solo tengo 20.000 lucas (I only have 20,000 Colombian pesos).

 

26. mamera (something very boring or annoying)

Example:

Ese profesor es muy aburrido. Su clase es una mamera (That teacher is very boring. His class is super boring (literally "a very boring one")).

 

27. man (guy)

This is an adaptation of the English word "man." However, rather than its literal translation ("hombre"), this word is used as you would use the word "guy" in English.

Example:

Ese man es muy intelligent (That guy is really smart).

 

28. mecato (snacks)

This is a Colombian slang word used to indicate a group or set of different snacks such as cookies or chips. 

 

29. miércoles (shoot, oops)

If you know the days of the week in Spanish, you know very well that "miércoles" means "Wednesday." However, just like "shoot" in English, the word "miércoles" in Colombian Spanish slang is also used as a nice alternative to avoid saying that bad word that starts with "mier...

 

30. mono/mona (a blonde person)

Example:

Bueno, y ¿quién era ese mono, todo así papacito?

Well, and who was that blonde guy, all hot like that?

Caption 28, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 2

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31. motoso (a nap)

Example:

Tengo ganas de echarme un motoso (I feel like taking a nap).

 

32. parcero/parcera (friend)

These are probably the most famous Colombian slang terms for a friend. However, keep in mind that their short form ("parce") is probably used the most throughout Colombia. This word is typical paisa slang vocabulary (see "paisa" in the "Adjectives" category).

Example:

 

Parce, venga, yo le digo una cosa, hermano, vea

Friend, come, I'll tell you something, brother, look

Caption 1, Juanes La Plata

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33. parche (a group of friends)

Example:

Ayer fui con mi parche a la fiesta (Yesterday, I went with my group of friends to the party).

 

34. paro (a strike)

Example:

Los vándalos aprovechan los paros para destruir las ciudades (Vandals take advantage of strikes in order to destroy cities).

 

35. pecueca (stinky feet)

This word is usually used with the verb "tener" in the expression "tener pecueca." Let's see an example:

Pedro tiene pecueca (Pedro has stinky feet).

 

36. perra (drunkenness)

Example:

Juan tenía una perra cuando llegó a casa (Juan was really drunk when he got home). 

 

37. pieza (bedroom)

Example:

La pieza de Rosa es grande (Rosa's bedroom is big).

 

38. plata (money)

Example:

Estamos hablando de mucha plata.

We're talking about a lot of money.

Caption 38, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 9

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39. pola (beer)

This is a slang word mostly used in Bogota and the surrounding areas.

 

40. rumba (a party)

This slang word is used with various Colombian sayings such as "¡Qué rumba!" (What a party!) or "irse de rumba" (to go out).

Example:

¿Estaba en una rumba?

Was he at a party?

Caption 42, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 1 - Part 12

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41. sardino/sardina (a very young person, usually a teenager)

Example:

Lárguese de esta casa. ¿Usted qué está hablando, sardino?

Get out of this house. What are you talking about, kid?

Captions 7-8, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 4 - Part 3

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42. sapo/sapa (a snitch, a toady)

This Colombian slang word that usually means "toad" has two meanings. First, it is used to describe someone who is a snitch:

No le digas nada a Miguel. ¡Es un sapo! (Don't say anything to Miguel. He's a snitch!)

 

Second, "un sapo" or "una sapa" is a person who is perceived as someone who flatters someone with the hope of getting ahead. Let's take a look at the following clip:

son el fruto de la sinceridad, y siguen siendo los mismos a través de los tiempos. Muy bien. Qué sapa.

are the fruit of sincerity, and remain the same throughout the ages. Very good. What a toady.

Captions 78-81, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 4 - Part 1

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43. tinto (a cup of black coffee)

Being the country of coffee, don't be surprised if someone in Colombia offers you "un tintico" (a little cup of black coffee) while you are waiting somewhere.

 

44. tombo (a policeman)

 

45. vaina (stuff, thing)

This is one of the most useful Colombian slang words you can ever learn. Generally speaking, you can use this word in the same way you use the words "stuff" or "thing" in English. Let's look at an example:

"Pásame esa vaina, por favor", o "No entendí nada de esa vaina".

"Pass me that thing, please," or, "I didn't understand any of that stuff."

Captions 29-31, Carlos explica Vocabulario: La palabra “vaina”

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However, this word is used in several different expressions that we will mention later on. In the meantime, feel free to check out Carlos' video about the word vaina

 

46. vieja (a girl, a woman, a chick)

The word "vieja" is usually used as an adjective to talk about someone or something that is old. However, in Colombia "vieja" is a very common word people use to talk about a woman or a girl. Let's see it in action:

A mí las viejas que más me gustan son las del INEM [Instituto Nacional de Educación Media Diversificada].

The chicks I like the most are the ones from INEM [National Institute of Diversified Middle School Education].

Captions 40-41, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 7 - Part 6

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Adjectives

There are so many Colombian slang words to describe people and things. Let's learn some of the most useful ones. 

 

47. achantado (sad, ashamed)

Example:

Jaime está achantado porque la novia lo dejó (Jaime is sad because his girlfriend broke up with him).

 

48. amañado (happy in a particular place or with someone)

Example:

Estoy amañado en este barrio (I feel at home in this neighborhood).

 

49. bacano/bacana (cool)

If you are wondering how to say "cool" in Colombia, this is one of the words you can use.

 

50. berraco/berraca (talented, angry, tough, a go-getter)

This is an adjective that can be used in different ways. Let's take a look.

Examples:

Messi es un jugador muy berraco (Messi is a very talented player).

El jefe está berraco con su equipo de trabajo (The boss is angry at his team).

El campeón solo tiene 20 años. ¡Es un berraco! (The champion is only 20 years old. He is tough!)

 

You will note that, in the last example, although berraco is used as a noun in Spanish, its English translation is an adjective. 

 

51. cachaco/cachaca (someone from Bogota, the capital of Colombia)

 

52. chato/chata (dear)

This adjective is similar to querido/a and is mostly used in Bogota. It also functions as a noun as a term of endearment, as in the following example:

Mi chata, estás hermosa (My dear, you look gorgeous).

 

53. chévere (cool)

Although this word is not unique to Colombia, it is widely used throughout the country.

Example:

Vive en Medellín. Sí. -Ah, tan chévere...

She lives in Medellin. Yes. -Oh, so cool...

Caption 4, Club 10 Capítulo 2 - Part 3

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54. chimbo/chimba (cheap or bad)

As we mentioned before, the word "chimba" has various meanings. As an adjective, Colombians use this word when they want to talk about something that is cheap or bad.

Example:

¡Qué libro tan chimbo! (What a bad book!)

 

55. chiviado (fake)

Example:

Ese bolso Gucci no es original, es chiviado (That Gucci purse isn't original, it is fake).

 

56. inmamable (annoying, unbearable)

Example:

Mi jefe me llama cada cinco minutos. ¡Es un tipo inmamable! (My boss calls me every five minutes. He is an unbearable guy!)

 

57. jarto/jarta (boring, annoying)

Example:

Antonio solo habla de él mismo. ¡Qué tipo tan jarto! (Antonio only talks about himself. What an annoying guy!)

 

58. mamado/mamada (tired, exhausted, fed up)

This adjective is usually used with the verb "estar" when you want to express tiredness or frustration. Let's see a couple of examples:

Hoy trabajé mucho. ¡Estoy mamada! (Today, I worked a lot. I'm exhausted!)

Estoy mamado de mi jefe. ¡No lo soporto! (I'm fed up with my boss. I can't stand him!)

 

59. paisa (someone from the city of Medellin and the surrounding regions)

 

60. prendido/prendida (tipsy)

This Colombia slang word is usually used with the verb "estar" as in "estoy prendido" (I'm tipsy).

"Estar prendido" doesn't mean "estar borracho" or "estar jincho" (to be drunk).

 

61. rolo/rola (someone from Bogota)

 

62. tenaz (tough, difficult)

Example:

Aprender chino es tenaz (Learning Chinese is tough).

 

Verbs

 

63. achantarse (to be ashamed, to feel embarrassed)

Example:

No me digas que se achantó porque se me declaró.

Don't tell me he was embarrassed because he told me that he loved me.

Caption 13, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 5 - Part 5

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64. camellar (to work hard)

Now that you know the word "camello," it's time to mention its verb form, "camellar." Let's listen to Carlos' explanation about this useful Colombian slang verb. 

 

En Colombia, cuando decimos un camello, estamos diciendo un trabajo. De hecho, también usamos el verbo camellar para decir trabajar duramente.

In Colombia, when we say "un camello" [a camel], we are saying a job. In fact, we also use the verb "camellar" [literally "to camel"] to say to work hard.

Captions 12-13, Carlos comenta Confidencial - Vocabulario y expresiones

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65. cuadrar (to schedule or plan something)

Example:

Tengo que cuadrar una reunión con Sandra la próxima semana (I have to schedule a meeting with Sandra next week).

You can also use the reflexive form of this verb (cuadrarse) when you want to say that someone started to date someone else:

Luis y Andrea se cuadraron hace dos años (Luis and Andrea started dating two years ago).

 

66. embarrar (to mess up, to screw up)

Let's take a look at the following video clip to see how to use this verb:

 

Mire, por favor, Andrea, yo sé que la embarré. Ya, lo acepto. Yo lo que estoy tratando es enmendar el error que cometí

Look, please, Andrea, I know I screwed it up. OK, I admit it. What I'm trying to do is rectify the mistake I made

Captions 23-25, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 1

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67. emberracarse (to get angry, to get pissed off)

Example:

Los huéspedes se emberracaron cuando vieron la habitación del hotel (The guests got pissed off when they saw the hotel room).

 

68. gallinacear (to flirt)

This verb is typically used to describe a man who is flirting with a woman.

Example:

A Marco le gusta gallinacear con Beatriz (Marco likes to flirt with Beatriz).

 

69. guisear (to cook, to do housekeeping tasks)

When people spend time cooking and housekeeping, it is common for them to describe themselves "guiseando." This odd Colombian slang verb probably comes from the "guiso" (stew) people often prepare in the kitchen.

Example:

He estado guiseando toda la mañana (I've been cooking and cleaning the house all morning).

 

70. hacer vaca (to collect money)

Although this might literally sound like "to make cow," it actually means "to collect money." 

Example:

Ayer hicimos vaca para la fiesta (Yesterday, we collected money for the party).

 

71. mamar gallo (to waste your time, to fool around, to joke around)

This is one of the most typical Colombian slang phrases you'll learn today! While you might notice that its literal meaning is "to suck rooster," the following two examples will show us two of its common uses:

Example 1:

-¿Estás estudiando? -No. Estoy solo mamando gallo.

-Are you studying? -No. I'm just fooling around.

 

Example 2:

A Miguel le gusta reírse y mamar gallo todo el tiempo (Miguel likes to laugh and joke around all the time).

 

72. rajarse (to fail)

Example:

Me rajé en el examen de matemáticas (I failed the math test).

 

73. rumbear (to party, to go out)

Rumbear is a common verb to talk about partying. However, don't be surprised if your Colombian friend says "rumbiar" instead of "rumbear." 

Example:

Salir a rumbear sin pensar en la cuenta

To go out on the town without thinking about the bill

Caption 65, Bacilos Mi Primer Millón

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The reflexive form "rumbearse" is also a slang word that means "to make out with" someone:

Carlos y Natalia se rumbearon en el cine (Carlos and Natalia made out at the movies).

 

74. sacar la piedra (to make someone angry, mad)

La actitud arrogante de Luisa, me sacó la piedra (Luisa's arrogant attitude made me angry).

 

75. sapear (to snitch)

This is the verb form of the noun sapo we talked about earlier. 

 

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Colombian sayings and expressions

If you want to impress your Colombian friends, we invite you to use the following, very Colombian expressions and phrases.

 

76. azotar baldosa (to dance, to hit the dance floor)

Literally, "azotar baldosa" means "to hit the floor tile." Generally speaking, however, you can use this expression when you want to say that someone is dancing. As an alternative, you can also use the verb "rayar" (to scratch) instead of "azotar."

Example:

-¿Dónde está Patricia? -Está azotando baldosa.

-Where is Patricia? -She's dancing.

 

77. ¿Bien o qué? (All good?)

Native Spanish speakers from outside of Colombia find this expression quite amusing. It is very common, however, and you can use it as an alternative way to say "hi" or "what's up?"

 

78. dar papaya (to provide an opportunity where people might take advantage of you)

Example:

Mejor dicho, no hay que dar papaya. ¿Papaya? ¡No exponernos, tía, exponernos.

In other words, we should lie low. Lie low? Not put ourselves at risk, girl, put ourselves at risk.

Captions 32-34, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 8

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79. ¡Déjate de vainas! (Don't worry about it!/Cut the crap!)

Example:

"¡Déjate de vainas!" "No te hagas problemas" o "No me vengas con cuentos".

"¡Déjate de vainas!" ["Don't worry about it" or "Cut the crap"]. "Don't worry about it" or "Cut the crap."

Captions 38-40, Carlos explica Vocabulario: La palabra “vaina”

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80. estar tragado/tragada (to be head over heels/to be totally in love)

Example:

yo he estado tragado de otras niñas antes, pero no como de Cata.

I've been head over heels for other girls before, but not like with Cata.

Captions 38-39, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 11 - Part 2

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81. ¡Guácala! (Gross!)

Example:

- ¿Sabes que en algunos países comen insectos? -¿En serio? ¡Guácala!

- Do you know that in some countries people eat insects? -Really? Gross

 

82. Hacer el oso (to do something embarrassing or make a fool of yourself)

While the meaning of these words is "to play the bear," colloquially, this expression means something very different.

Example:

Por no haber estudiado, Fernando hizo el oso delante de la clase (Because he hadn't studied, Fernando made a fool of himself in front of the class).

 

83. ¡Listo! (OK, great!)

Although not exclusively Colombian, ¡Listo! is probably the most common Colombian slang way to say "OK." This term is also used as an equivalent of "great." Let's see a couple of examples from the following video featuring Cleer and Lida:

Example 1:

Listo. Entonces, armamos el plan y nos vamos a bailar.

OK. So, we made the plan, and we're going dancing.

Caption 50, Cleer y Lida Conversación telefónica - Part 1

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Example 2:

Listo. Entonces, hasta el sábado.

Great. So, see you Saturday.

Caption 82, Cleer y Lida Conversación telefónica - Part 1

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84. ¡Ni de vainas! ("Don't even think about it" or "No way")

Example:

"Ni de vainas," que significa, "Ni lo sueñes" o "No lo haré".

"Ni de vainas" ["Don't even think about it" or "No way"], which means, "Don't even think about it" or "I won't do it."

Captions 44-45, Carlos explica Vocabulario: La palabra “vaina”

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85. paila (too bad, bummer, to be in trouble)

Example:

Si Jorge no pasa el examen final, ¡paila! (If Jorge doesn't pass the final exam, he's in trouble!)

Keep in mind that people sometimes use the plural form, "pailas."

 

86. parar bolas (to pay attention)

Example:

Hermanito, pare bolas.

Little brother, pay attention.

Caption 2, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 9

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87. pilas (watch out)

Example:

Pilas. Las viejas van en camino.

Watch out [literally: "Batteries"]. The old ladies are on their way.

Caption 53, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 2 - Part 4

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88. poner los cachos (to cheat on someone)

Although the Colombian slang term poner los cachos literally means "to put horns on" someone, this is a slang term for cheating. 

Example:

Luis descubrió que Virginia le está poniendo los cachos (Luis found out that Virginia is cheating on him).

 

89. ¡Qué boleta! (How embarrassing!)

Example:

Fredy llegó borracho al funeral. ¡Qué boleta! (Fredy arrived drunk to the funeral. How embarrassing!)

 

90. ¡Qué chimba! (How cool!)

As you can see, there are various Colombian slang words for the English equivalent "cool." In fact, this word is often used in the expression "¡Qué chimba!" (How cool!). Let's take a look:

 

Bacano. Chévere. ¡Qué chimba!

Cool. Nice. How cool!

Captions 67-69, Skampida Gustavo y David

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91. ¡Qué berraquera! (Fantastic!/Unbelievable!)

Depending on the context, this expression can be used in a positive or negative way. Let's see an example of the former:

¿Te vas para Nueva York? ¡Qué berraquera! (¿Are you going to New York? Fantastic!)

However, this expression can also be used when you want to point out something negative:

Este es el quinto paro de la semana. ¡Qué berraquera! (This is the fifth strike of the week. Unbelievable!)

 

92. ¡Qué ceba! (gross!)

This slang word is used as an alternative to "¡Guácala!"

 

93. ¡Qué embarrada! (What a pity!)

Similar to the meaning of the verb "embarrar," Colombians use the expression "¡Qué embarrada!" when they want to express disappointment or regret about something.

Example:

Mario perdió su trabajo. ¡Qué embarrada! (Mario lost his job. What a pity!)

 

94. ¡Qué jartera! (What a pain in the butt!/How boring!/How annoying!)

Example:

¡Qué jartera esta fiesta! (How boring this party [is]!)

 

95. ¡Qué mamera! (What a pain in the butt!/How boring!/How annoying!)

This is another way of saying "¡Qué jartera!" and is a very common Colombian slang expression. 

Example:

Este domingo tengo que trabajar. ¡Qué mamera! (I have to work this Sunday. What a pain in the butt!)

 

96. ¡Qué oso! (How embarrassing!)

Example:

El alcalde llegó borracho a la reunión. ¡Qué oso! (The mayor arrived drunk to the meeting. How embarrassing!)

 

97. ¡Qué vaina! (What a pity!)

Example:

"¡Qué vaina!" "Qué vaina" es una expresión que usamos cuando hay un problema o cuando algo malo ocurrió.

"¡Qué vaina!" [What a pity!] "Que vaina" is an expression we use when there's a problem or when something bad happened.

Captions 34-36, Carlos explica Vocabulario: La palabra “vaina”

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98. Quiubo (What's up/ Hi)

"Quiubo" comes from the expression "¿Qué hubo?" (What's up?) An alternative spelling for "quibuo" is "kiubo."

Example:

¿Quiuboquiubo, linda? ¿Cómo vas?

What's upwhat's up, beautiful? How are you?

Caption 3, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 8

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¡Quiubo, parce! (What's up, dude?/ Hi, dude!) would be a very typical Colombian slang expression using two of the words we have introduced you to today. 

 

99. ser una nota (to be awesome)

Literally, "una nota" is "a note." However, when you say that someone or something "es una nota," you are saying that someone or something is awesome or nice:

¡Claudia es una nota! (Claudia is awesome!)

 

100. ¡Ya dijo! (Yeah, right!)

Example:

-En dos años voy a ser millonario. -¡Ya dijo!

-In two years, I will be a millionaire. -Yeah, right!

 

And that's it! Did you enjoy this lesson about Colombian slang? We hope so. Before we go, we have a challenge for you. Are you able to understand the following short conversation?:

 

-¡Quiubo parce!, ¿bien o qué?

-Más o menos. Ayer mi novia se fue a una rumba y me puso los cachos.

-¡Uy! ¡Qué embarrada! ¿Y con quién?

-Con el mono ese que camella con ella en la oficina.

-¡Ah! Ese man es un gallinazo.

-Así es llave. ¡Gallinazo e inmamable! 

 

Did you get that? If not, we invite you to double-check those slang words and phrases we covered throughout the article. And please, send us your comments and questions. ¡Hasta la próxima!

 

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Caption 45, 44, 40, 39, 38, 36, 35, 34, 31, 30, 29
Beginner

Spanish Verb Tenses Explained: Part 1

Today, we will embark on a brief journey that encompasses all the Spanish verb tenses. However, rather than focusing on how to conjugate the verb tenses in Spanish, which you may or may not have already learned, we'll take a closer look at when to use each one, using the extremely common verb hablar ("to talk" or "to speak") to illustrate them whenever possible, as well as plenty of examples from the Yabla Spanish video library. 

 

How Many Tenses Are There in Spanish?

How many different tenses in Spanish are there in total? According to the Real Academia Española, there are sixteen Spanish verb tenses. There are also some "bonus tenses," which aren't officially included in their classification, which we will also cover in this lesson. Let's get started.

 

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Indicative Tenses

To make matters just a bit more complicated, Spanish verb tenses fall into three categories called "moods," which are the indicative, the subjunctive, and the imperative. Generally speaking, the indicative verb tenses in Spanish are the first Spanish verb tenses learned, and, in contrast to the Spanish verb tenses in the other moods (subjunctive and imperative), they tend to deal with facts and objective reality. Let's take a look:

 

1. Present (Presente)

Let's start with the present tense in Spanish, also known as the "simple present." This tense is primarily used in two ways, the first being to talk about a present action that is habitual, repeated, or ongoing. Let's take a look:

 

Aunque soy extranjero, yo hablo español muy bien.

Although I'm a foreigner, I speak Spanish very well.

Caption 56, Clase Aula Azul Información con subjuntivo e indicativo - Part 4

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Since it is an ongoing fact that the speaker speaks Spanish very well, it is appropriate to use the present tense. We can also use this tense to talk about an action that is actually in progress at the moment:

 

¿Hablo con la Señora Pepa Flores, la manager de Amalia Durango?

Am I speaking with Mrs. Pepa Flores, Amalia Durango's manager?

Captions 37-38, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 5

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***BONUS TENSE: Present Progressive (Presente Continuo)*** 

Notice that the second example of the present tense was translated to the English present progressive tense. This is the tense with a form of the word "to be" and the gerund, or -ing form of a verb ("I'm eating," "He's swimming," etc.). The present progressive tense in Spanish, which is similarly formed with a present conjugation of the verb estar (to be) and a verb's gerundio (gerund, which usually ends in -ando or -iendo in Spanish), is always translated in this fashion and really emphasizes that an action is in progress at this very moment. Let's take a look:

 

OK. Xavi, ahora que estamos hablando de... de comida, de alimentos, quisiera hacerte una pregunta.

OK. Xavi, now that we're talking about... about food, about foods, I'd like to ask you a question.

Captions 23-24, Carlos y Xavi Part 3 Diferencias de vocabulario entre España y Colombia

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For more information about and examples of the present progressive tense in Spanish, check out this lesson as well as this video that contrasts the use of the simple present with the present progressive. Now that we've seen a couple of the present verb tenses in Spanish, let's check out some of the Spanish past tenses. 

 

2. Imperfect (Pretérito imperfecto)

The imperfect is one of the Spanish past tenses and talks about an action that was ongoing or habitual in the past or that was in progress and/or interrupted in the moment described. Translations for the imperfect in Spanish for the verb hablar could thus include "used to talk," "would talk," or "was talking." Let's take a look at couple of examples:

 

Bueno, cuando yo era pequeña hablaba con la ficha de Einstein.

Well, when I was little, I used to talk to the Einstein card.

Caption 36, La Familia Cheveroni Capítulo 1 - Part 3

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Ya que estás, contanos a los dos... ¿De qué hablaban?

Now that you're here, tell us both... What were you talking about?

Caption 2, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 6

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To learn more about the imperfect tense in Spanish, check out this lesson entitled: The Imperfect Tense in Spanish: The Past That Just Won't Quit

 

***BONUS TENSE: Past Progressive (Pasado continuo)*** 

The past equivalent of the present progressive tense is the past progressive tense, which emphasizes that an action in the past was in progress. As with the present and present progressive tenses, while the imperfect tense in Spanish can sometimes be translated with the past progressive in English ("I was eating," "You were running," etc.), the past progressive tense in Spanish is always translated in this fashion, with "was" or "were" plus a verb's gerund. It is formed in the same way as the present progressive except that the verb estar is conjugated in the imperfect tense:

 

Le hemos despistado. -Porque estaba hablando

We've confused her. -Because she was talking.

Caption 59, Jugando a la Brisca En la calle

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3. Preterite (Pretérito indefinido)

The preterite is another one of the Spanish past tenses. In contrast to the imperfect tense, the preterite tense in Spanish describes past actions that have been completed. It could be compared with verbs ending in -ed in English (e.g. "He fished," "We traveled," etc.). Let's see an example:

 

Pero claro, en Televisión Española me hablaron de Gastón Almanza

But of course, at Spanish Television they talked to me about Gaston Almanza

Caption 13, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 10

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The preterite is also used for past actions that interrupted other actions in progress, which would often be conjugated in the imperfect, as in the following example:

 

Yo hablaba por teléfono cuando mi novio me habló con una voz muy alta. 

I was talking on the phone when my boyfriend talked to me in a very loud voice. 

 

To find out more about the preterite tense, we recommend this lesson from our Yabla lesson archives. 

 

4. Future (Futuro simple)

The future tense in Spanish is pretty straightforward; it talks about something we "will" do in the future. Let's take a look: 

 

Hoy hablaremos de las preposiciones de lugar.

Today, we will talk about prepositions of place.

Caption 9, Ana Carolina Preposiciones de lugar

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Interestingly, sometimes the Spanish future tense is used in situations where English speakers would employ "would" to imply disbelief: 

 

¿Y tú me hablarás de esta manera?

And you'd talk to me like that? 

 

5. Simple Conditional (Condicional simple)

So, what about the Spanish conditional tenses? The simple conditional tense is the typical Spanish equivalent of saying one "would" do something in English, often in a hypothetical situation:

 

Bueno, si yo fuera tú, hablaría con él.

Well, if I were you, I would speak with him.

Caption 24, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: Subjuntivo y condicional

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This tense is often, but not always, seen in conjunction with the imperfect subjunctive tense (fuera, or "I were" in the example above), which we will cover in part two of this lesson, to specify that if some hypothetical situation "were" in place, something else "would" happen.  

 

6. Present Perfect (Pretérito perfecto)

Although this tense is called the present perfect in English, its Spanish name is préterito perfecto ("preterite perfect" or "past perfect"), and it is the Spanish past tense used to say that one "has done" something within a specific time period, which could be anything from that day to one's life. It is formed with the verb haber, which is translated as "has" or "have" in English, along with the participle form of the verb (which will typically have the suffix -ado or -ido in Spanish and -ed or -en in English). Let's take a look:

 

El día de hoy, hemos hablado de artículos que utilizamos al día a día

Today, we've talked about items we use every day

Caption 41, Ana Carolina Artículos de aseo personal

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Interestingly, in Spain, the present perfect is often used to describe things that happened in the recent past in situations in which English speakers would use the simple past and Latin Americans would more likely use the preterite. This usage can be seen quite clearly throughout this video from El Aula Azul. Let's take a look at an excerpt:

 

Pero cuando ha salido de clase, cuando hemos terminado la clase, ha ido a coger el coche, y resulta que la ventanilla estaba rota.

But when she's left class, when we've finished the class, she's gone to get her car, and it turns out that the window was broken.

Captions 12-14, El Aula Azul Conversación: Un día de mala suerte

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Although the translators at Yabla chose to translate this tense literally in this video to facilitate the learning of the present perfect tense, this sounds quite awkward in English, where a native speaker would probably say: "But when she left class, when we finished the class, she went to get her car, and it turns out that the window was broken."

 

In this video, Carlos provides an even more thorough explanation about when to use this tense as part of a useful four-part series on the different past tenses in Spanish. 

 

7. Pluperfect (Pretérito pluscuamperfecto)

The pluperfect is the past equivalent of the present perfect tense. It is formed with the imperfect conjugation of the verb haber and the participle form of the infinitive. It is often used to describe things we "had" already done when something else occurred.

 

que no era tan escandalosa como... como la gente había hab'... había hablado al principio.

That it wasn't as scandalous as... as the people had sa'... had said in the beginning.

Captions 41-42, Los Juegos Olímpicos Pablo Herrera

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8. Past Anterior (Pretérito anterior)

Also known as the preterite perfect, the past anterior tense is extremely similar to the pluperfect tense but employs the preterite conjugation of the verb haber plus the participle. It is used more commonly in literature and less in everyday speech. While we couldn't find an example of this tense with the verb hablar, we did find one with the verb coger (to grab): 

 

Apenas lo hubo cogido, el niño se despertó.

He'd barely grabbed it, the little boy woke up.

Captions 46-47, Chus recita poemas Antonio Machado

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Just in case you were wondering, an example sentence with the verb hablar might be: Yo ya hube hablado con mi maestra antes del examen (I had already spoken to my teacher before the test), and there would be no difference in translation between this sentence and the same sentence with the verb conjugated in its pluperfect form (Yo ya había hablado con mi maestra antes del examen).

 

9. Future Perfect (Futuro compuesto)

If one said, Yo ya habré hablado con el chico por teléfono antes de conocerlo cara a cara (I will have already spoken to the guy on the phone before meeting him face to face), he or she would be employing the future perfect tense, which includes the future tense conjugation of the verb haber plus the participle. This conveys the English construction "will have." Let's take a look at an example of this tense from the Yabla Spanish library:

 

Ay, ¿por qué se me habrá ocurrido comer bandeja paisa antes de que me encerraran, ah?

Oh, why would it have occurred to me to eat "bandeja paisa" [a Colombian dish] before they locked me up, huh?

Captions 27-28, La Familia Cheveroni Capítulo 1 - Part 3

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In this example, we see that, similarly to the future tense, the future perfect tense can also be used to express disbelief, and it is translated with the English word "would" (rather than "will") in such cases. 

 

10. Conditional Perfect (Condicional compuesto)

The conditional perfect tense in Spanish is the equivalent of saying "would have" in English. It utilizes the conditional form of the verb haber plus the participle to talk about what one "would have" done or what "would have" happened in a hypothetical situation:

 

Seguro que a él sí le habrían aceptado las invitaciones.

Surely they would have accepted his invitations.

Caption 24, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 6 - Part 5

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An example with the verb hablar would be: Si lo pudiera hacer otra vez, habría hablado con el chico que me gustaba (If I could do it again, I'd have spoken to the guy I liked). Yabla's lesson, "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda," expands upon the conditional perfect tense and more.

 

***ADDITIONAL BONUS TENSES: The Progressives*** 

Once you know all Spanish tenses in the indicative mood, you could also conjugate the verb estar in its many tenses to come up with additional progressive tenses, as follows:

 

Preterite Progressive (Pretérito continuo): Yo estuve hablando (I was talking)

Conditional Progressive (Condicional continuo): Yo estaría hablando (I would be talking)

Future Progressive (Futuro continuo): Yo estaré hablando (I will be talking)

 

We could even apply this to the compound tenses we learned:

 

Present Perfect Progressive (Pretérito perfecto continuo): Yo he estado hablando (I have been talking)

Pluperfect Progressive (Pretérito pluscuamperfecto continuo): Yo había estado hablando (I had been talking)

Conditional Perfect Progressive (Condicional compuesto continuo)Yo habría estado hablando (I would have been talking)

Future Perfect Progressive (Futuro compuesto continuo): Yo habré estado hablando (I will have been talking)

 

That was a lot of Spanish verb tenses!!! And that was just the first ten verb tenses in Spanish! Part two of this lesson will deal with the verb tenses in Spanish in the other two "moods," subjunctive and imperative. In the meantime, we hope you enjoyed part one of this lesson on Spanish verb tenses... and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

 

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Describing People in Spanish with the Verb Ser

In this lesson, we will learn how to describe people in Spanish using the verb ser (to be). In particular, we'll focus on five different uses of the verb ser that you can use to identify and describe people. Let's take a look.

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To identify someone

 

Eh... Luis, ella es mi mamá, mamá, él es Luis. Y ella es mi abuela Carmen.

Um... Luis, this is my mom, Mom, this is Luis. And this is my Grandma Carmen.

Captions 18-19, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 4 - Part 4

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It's worth mentioning that the example above shows a very common way to introduce people in Spanish.

 

To indicate the gender of a person

 

es un hombre que se dedica a lo que yo hago.

he's a man who devotes himself to what I do.

Caption 61, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 9

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To state someone's nationality

 

Paul es estadounidense, de los Estados Unidos.

Paul is American, from the United States.

Caption 16, Carlos explica Geografía y gentilicios

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To indicate somebody's job

 

Mi padre es arquitecto

My father is an architect

Caption 25, Leif El Arquitecto Español y su Arte - Part 1

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To talk about physical traits

In particular, when we refer to essential traits, such as height, weight, and physical appearance.

 

Es bajo, es gordo,

He's short, he's fat,

Caption 33, El Aula Azul Mis Primos

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Alguien que es delgado tiene poco peso

Someone who is skinny doesn't weigh much

Captions 32-33, Lecciones con Carolina Adjetivos - Descripción de personas - Físico

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Carolina tiene treinta y cinco años pero parece que tiene veinte. Es muy guapa.

Carolina is thirty-five years old but she looks like she is twenty. She's very pretty.

Captions 2-4, El Aula Azul Mis Primos

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To describe someone's personality

 

Ellos son muy majos. Mi prima Marta es muy simpática.

They are very nice. My cousin Marta is very nice.

Caption 8, El Aula Azul Mi familia

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Ricardo es muy... es muy tranquilo, ¿viste?

Ricardo is very... he's very calm, you know?

Caption 84, Biografía Natalia Oreiro - Part 10

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Porque mi mamá es una persona muy difícil. -Eso a mí no me importa.

Because my mom is a very difficult person. -That doesn't matter to me.

Caption 20, Yago 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 4

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That's it for today. Can you describe someone you know using the verb ser? We invite you to try it out and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions. ¡Hasta la próxima!

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