Listen to a conversation in your own language and you’ll notice all kinds of filler-phrases or words… Mmm, huh, yeah, really?, wow, that’s great, yeah I know. If you spend time in Uruguay or Argentina, you’re sure to pick some of them up. Here’s a list of the most common ones so you can make a bit more sense of conversations when you first arrive.
dale = OK, yes (Uruguay and Argentina)
ta = OK, fine (mainly Uruguay)
pero ta = but hey, never mind
este… = umm…
ahí va = exactly, that’s it
claro = sure
bárbaro = great
¿Mirá? = Oh yeah? Really?
¿En serio? = Seriously?
¡Mirá, que bueno! = Wow, that’s great!
¡Anda! = Wow, no way!
¡Qué bueno / horrible / embole! = That’s great / awful / so boring!
¿Viste? = Know what I mean? (literally, Did you see?)
O sea, … = I mean, …
Yo que sé = I don’t know / What do I know?
¡ojo! = careful / watch out!
¡opa! = This can either mean something like “whoops!” (e.g. you nearly knock a full glass over, but catch it just in time), or something like “wow!” when someone walks in the room looking particularly well-dressed, smart or pretty.
guau = wow (Spanish spelling!)
pa = an expression of surprise, usually negative, such as when you spot a hefty price tag on something that should be cheap. The classic phrase is Pa, ¡qué frío!
che = hey, mate (used to attract someone’s attention or change the topic of conversation)
bo = used the same way as che, and is possibly more common (at least among the younger generations) in Uruguay.
Exercise: A lot of these words and expressions are kind of hard to understand out of context. Try to write an example sentence or short dialogue using one or two (or all!) of them, and send it in for the Uruguayan seal of approval (that’s Virginia and Juan). Also let us know if you hear one of them out on the streets!
Any questions? If you’re not sure about the content of today’s class or have something to add, leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you. Your questions and comments will help other students too. Our Spanish immersion programs at La Herradura in Uruguay and Spain teach you an international form of Spanish, but the teachers are all native speakers and will offer guidance on local expressions and words.