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Voseo

Vos y el lleismo

Click the podcast above to hear us talk (in Spanish) about two key characteristics of Argentinian Spanish – el voseo y el lleismo

Vos

One of the key aspects that makes Argentinian Spanish distinct from other forms of the language is the use of el voseo – the term used to describe using the word vos to replace . On the surface swapping the word for ‘you’ is quite a minor change, but as ‘you’ is such a common word, it makes a big difference to how the language sounds.

As the word for ‘you’ changes, so does the way in which the verb in conjugated.

Here are examples of how it is conjugated for two common verbs, ser and tener:

SER vos
yo soy soy
tú / vos eres sos
él / ella / usted es es
nosotros somos somos
vosotros sois
ellos / ellas / ustedes son son

 

TENER vos
yo tengo tengo
tú / vos tienes tenés
él / ella / usted tiene tiene
nosotros tenemos tenemos
vosotros tenéis
ellos / ellas / ustedes tienen tienen

 

Notice that the verbs only change for the (you) form. Also Argentinians don’t use the vosotros (you plural / you guys) form of the verb. Instead, they use ustedes for you plural and don’t make a distinction between formal/informal ways of talking.

Note: Don’t confuse vos (you) with vosotros (you plural) – they are not the same! It might be a reason why Argentinians don’t use vosotros!

Here is how the form changes for some other common verbs:

  Vos
SER eres sos
TENER tienes tenés
HACER haces hacés
DECIR dices decís
PODER puedes podés
VENIR viene venís

Notice the accents at the end of the words, meaning that the emphasis falls on the last syllable: tenés, hacés, decís.

That’s it really… anything that makes verb tables simpler should be welcomed!

El Voseo in the imperative

El voseo also changes the way the imperative (used to give orders and commands) is used. Again, there is a similar emphasis on the last syllable.

I have chosen the following verbs for examples as most common to be used with the imperative:

Verb Meaning Vos Example Translation
HABLAR to speak habla hablá habláme tell me…
IR to go ve andá andáte get out of here
TENER to have ten tené tenéme hold this for me
VENIR to come ven vení vení come here
PONER to put pon poné ponéte la mesa lay/set the table
SOLTAR to let go suelta soltá soltáme let me go!
SALIR to leave sal salí salí go/leave
CALLAR to be quiet calla callá calláte shut up!
DECIR to say di decí decíme tell me
PEDIR to order pide pedí pedíme una pizza order me a pizza
COMER to eat come comé comélo [just] eat it

 

Where is vos used?

Vos is used throughout Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and a few other Latin American countries. Sometimes the form is used, with the verb conjugated as vos.

Incidentally, you will always be understood if you use the form in Argentina. In some circles, is considered more correct or literary, although this is changing.

El lleísmo (or yeísmo)

This is the term used to describe the pronunciation of ‘ll’ and ‘y’.

In ‘traditional’ Spanish ‘ll’ and ‘y’ are pronounced much like the ‘y’ in yellow. In Argentina it is closer to a ‘sh’ sound.

Some examples (excuse the phonetics!) below:

Word Meaning Traditional Spanish Pronunciation Argentinian Spanish Pronunciation
YO I yo sho
CASTELLANO [Castillian] Spanish cas-te-ya-no cas-te-sha-no
ELLA she / her ay-ya ay-sha
LLAVE key ya-vey sha-vay