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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


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


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:

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





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3 thoughts to “Vos y el lleismo”

  1. Hi guys,

    Thanks for your podcasts.

    I’m Scottish and I had been speaking Spanish for 14 years when I first went to Argentina in 2004. I found that the differences you refer to really threw me at first and affected my “natural” rhythm with the language. Now after so much exposure to Argentinian Spanish I have a bit of a mixture of influences but still with strong roots from Spain where I first learned the language. When my Argentinian daughter was 4 she corrected me for the first time – with the pronunciation of pollo. Now she just accepts that I speak weird Spanish and sometimes says that I don’t speak Spanish at all.

    When looking for your site again I came across this article the, message of which is pretty clear from the title.

    As you will see it caused a fair bit of debate.

    1. Hi Ian, good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing that article – I have come across it before – it’s pretty good at highlighting some of the differences with Argentinian Spanish, but (unsurprisingly) I disagree with much of it. I guess it depends on why you are learning Spanish and what you want to achieve.

      In comparison to other types of Spanish, Argentinian can be a bit ‘weird’ and different, but 95-98% of it is the same. I now find the ‘ththth’ version of Castillian Spanish very different and even difficult to follow – but if I went to Spain I’d try and fit in a bit better by using ‘tu’ whenever I could remember to.

      It’s really not that different to how English is spoken by Americans, Australians, or (dare I say it?) Scottish people! I used to think that American spellings (e.g. ‘color’) were wrong, but have got over that. It’s fine to have regional differences and most people just accept it and move on. In fact, most people are thrilled at any attempts to speak a foreign language.

      I don’t mind having an accent (in English and in Spanish) or speaking in a funny way – that’s just all part of who we are, where we’ve come from and (in the case of Spanish) my background in learning the language.

      It sounds like you are able to get by with what you want to say, asi, decile a tu hija – ¡chúpate esa mandarina!

      Gracias por escucharnos!

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