One of the problems I faced as a Spanish learner in Colombia was that the meaning of many of the words I heard in everyday conversation didn’t appear to match what the dictionary said they should.
This happened as much with local slang terms as it would for international Spanish idioms that I’d not come across previously. Any attempt to translate such things literally proved extremely unenlightening.
And this was true even of the simplest of everyday expressions like the Colombian greeting: “¿qué más?“. Translating that literally, word-for-word, I’d make only the English phrase, “what more?”, which gave little clue to the idiomatic meaning of “how’s it going?” or “what’s up?”.
The A-Z of Colombian Spanish
To clear up such mysteries I’ve started compiling a list of colombianismos, international idiomatic expressions and other little useful turns of phrase that I’ve learned during many years spent conversing with the locals. The idea of the below list is to cover all the good stuff you’ll hear when talking to Colombians, but that which is rarely covered in generic Spanish textbooks and dictionaries.
Far from all the below terms are exclusive to Colombia, but sooner or later, they will crop up in your conversations with the locals. To find a specific word/phrase, you can browse the list alphabetically or press control/command + F to use the search function in your browser.
For more advice on the pronunciation of the below, together with examples and explanations of how to use them in the correct contexts, you can also register for the Conversational Spanish for Colombia video course from which these are drawn:
¿A cómo tienes [objeto]? – What are you charging for [object]?
¿A cuánto está? – What’s the price (today)?
A escondidas de – Hidden from… / behind someone’s back…
A lo mejor – Another way to say “maybe” (along with “de pronto”, “tal vez”, “quizás” etc).
Abrazos – Hugs. A typical way to sign off electronic messages and emails.
Acercarse a alguien – To go up to someone.
Ahí en la lucha / ahí voy – ‘Getting there’ / ‘battling on’ (responses for when someone asks how you are).
Ahora / ahorita / ahoritica – Meaning depends on context, but can be “now”, “in a little bit”, “later” or even “never”. To definitely say “now” go for “ya“.
Ahora mismo – Right now.
Ahorita más tarde – In a little bit, later.
Algo así / Algo por el estilo – Something like that.
Algo es algo, (peor es nada) – The Spanish equivalent of “something is better than nothing”.
Aliviadito – The diminutive version of ‘(estar) aliviado’ meaning “to have eased up” or for a problem to have got better.
Amanecimos… – As well as describing the action of the sun rising, Colombians sometimes use the verb “amanecer” as a way to describe how they feel on waking (like we saw in the greeting “¿Cómo amaneciste?”). Fro example, “amanecimos medio enguayabitos” is “we woke up a bit hungover”, and “hoy amanecí con ganas de café” (“I woke up this morning with a craving for coffee”).
Amar a alguien – To love someone (stronger than ‘querer a alguien’).
Amigo/a con derechos – “Friend(s) with benefits” – one of several ways to talk about seeing someone casually.
Amigovio/a – A casual relationship; somewhere between being friends and being boyfriend and girlfriend.
Amiguita – When used by men, it means girls that they are seeing casually (or that they are trying to “conquistar”).
Apreciar a alguien – To care for someone a lot, to think very highly of someone.
Arrocito en bajo – A potential love interest who you’re keeping “on the backburner”.
¡Así de sencillo! – It’s that straight forward / it’s as easy as that!
(Un) bacán / (una) bacana – A cool person.
Bacano – Cool / really good (Medellín).
‘Barman’ – Barman (obviously). There are a few more examples of English words Colombians regularly use in their conversations.
¿Bien o no? / ¿Bien o qué? – All good? (Greeting)
Bien/demasiado borracho – Really drunk.
Buena gente – A good person (applies for singular, plural, male and female).
Buenas – ‘Morning / ‘afternoon / ‘evening.
Bulla – A more common word than “ruido” in Colombia to describe noise.
Cachaco/a – Mainly used to refer to people from the capital, Bogotá. If used along the Caribbean coastal region, it means anyone from the interior of the country.
Cada ocho días – Every week.
Cada quince días – Every two weeks (lit. every fifteen days).
Cada veinte días – Every three weeks (lit. every twenty days).
Caerle (a alguien) – To hit on someone. Can also mean something like ‘to drop by’ or ‘to meet up’ with someone.
Caleta – An illegal stash of weapons (or sometimes cash). Usually heard in the context of insurgent groups or drug traffickers.
Cali es Cali. Lo demás es loma – Cali is the best city in the world (lit. “Cali is Cali. Everything else is just a hill” i.e. Cali is above all else).
Cariñoso/a – Affectionate.
Carrera – A journey in a taxi (also a university degree, a race, or a career).
Cervecita – Beer.
Chau – Bye.
Chévere – Cool / really good. More detail.
Chiquitico – “Chiquito” is a very popular way to say “small” in Colombia; probably more so than the standard “pequeño“. “Chiquitico” is the diminutive version of “chiquito” so it’s very small.
¿Cierto? – Right? / OK?
Claro – Yes, of course.
Clima – The standard word for ‘weather’ in Colombia. “El tiempo” is very rarely (if ever) used for this.
Colaborar – Technically the verb for “to collaborate”, but Colombians use it more like “to help someone out” (or as an alternative to “ayudar“).
Colombianizarse – To become a Colombian / to have fully adopted Colombian customs or speech.
Comer cuento – To buy into a story.
Comerse a alguien – Slang phrase for “to have sex with someone”.
¿Cómo amaneció? – How did you sleep? / How has your morning been?
¿Cómo así (que)? – Something like “What do you mean (that)…?” or “how is it (that)?”. Often used to convey some disbelief.
Como buen colombiano, todo lo deja pa’ lo último – “Like any Colombian worth his salt, he leaves everything to the last minute”.
¿Cómo hacemos para llegar? – How will we get there?
¿Cómo haces para saber…? – How do you go about finding out…? / What do you do to find out…?
¿Cómo me le va? / ¿Cómo le ha ido? – How are things? / How’s it going?
¿Cómo sigue la causa? – Roughly: How are things? / how’s life?
¿Cómo te fue…? – How did your [x] go?
¿Cómo te trata la vida? – How’s life been treating you?
Como te ves de bonita hoy – You look so beautiful today.
¿Cómo vas? – How are you doing?
¿Cómo van las cosas? – How are things going?
Compa’e – Short for ‘compadre‘, meaning friend (Caribbean coast).
Conquistar – To seduce or to win someone over romantically.
Contar con alguien – To be able to rely on / depend on someone.
Correrse la teja – An idiomatic way to say “volverse loco”, “to go crazy”.
Cosas así – Things like that.
Costeño/a – Someone from the Atlantic/Caribbean coastal region.
Cuadro / compa – Dude / friend (Caribbean coast only).
¿Cuál es el propósito de…? – What is the purpose of…? / what is…for? (e.g. “¿Cuál es el propósito de la vida?” – “what is the purpose/meaning of life?”)
Cuando la cosa está más seria – When things have got a bit more serious.
Cuando le toca, toca – The literal translation is something like “when you have to, you have to”; the closest English equivalent is probably “duty calls”.
¿Cuánto llevas…? – How long have you been…?
¿Cuánto le/te debo? – What do I owe ya?
¿Cuánto me cobras para…? – How much would you charge me for…?
¿Cuánto vale? – How much is it?
Cucho/a – Old man / old lady.
Cuchibarbi – A slang-term combining the term “cucha” (“older woman”) and “barbie” to describe a, generally good-looking, older woman who has gone heavy on the plastic surgery and who is interested in younger guys. Vaguely similar to the English slang ‘cougar’ or ‘MILF’.
Cuenta conmigo – Count me in / you can rely on me.
Cuídate (mucho) – Take (real good) care.
Dale – Go ahead / sure.
Dar la mano – To shake hands.
Dar papaya – To expose yourself to unnecessary risk / to be asking for trouble.
Darse cuenta – To realise / to figure out.
De casualidad – By any chance.
De eso se trata – That’s what it’s all about.
De hecho – In fact / actually.
De pronto – In Colombia, this mainly means “maybe” rather than “all of a sudden” as it would in international Spanish.
¡De una! – Yes, absolutely.
Defenderse – To get by (in the context of a skill e.g. dancing, speaking a foreign language).
Desde pequeño/a – Since I was little…
Despelucarse – To get your hair messed up.
Distinto/a – Different.
Dizque – Supposedly (informal). It’s a mash-up of “dicen que…” as in “they say that”.
Donde mi mamá – At my mum’s place (“donde Juan” would be ‘at Juan’s place’, “donde María”, “at María’s” etc.).
Echarle los perros (a alguien) – To come on to someone.
El man es bien feo – The guy is really ugly.
El man es como feito – He’s not the best looking guy in the world (lit. “The guy is like a bit ugly).
El que madruga, dios le ayuda – “God favours those who get up early” (Colombia’s version of “the early bird catches the worm)”.
El que reza y peca, empata – “He who prays, but also sins, breaks even overall”. In other words, you’re free to indulge in bad behaviour as long as you balance it out by going to church too.
Embarrar – Colombian verb for “to mess something up”.
Empaisarse – To become a paisa / to have fully adopted paisa customs or speech.
¿En cuánto está [objeto]? – How much is [object] at the moment?
¿En cuánto me llevas al centro? – How much would you charge to take me downtown?
¿En cuánto me lo dejas? – How much will you let it go for?
En este caso – In this case / in this instance.
En seguida – Straight away, immediately.
En serio – Seriously.
Ennoviarse – To get coupled up.
Estado de ánimo – A fancy way to say a person’s “mood”.
Estar acostumbrado/a a – To be used to… / to be in the habit of…
Estar amañado/a – To feel settled / at home somewhere.
Estar borracho/a – To be drunk (international Spanish).
Estar desparchado/a – To have not social life (to be without a ‘parche’). Read more.
Estar dispuesto a – To be willing to, to be prepared to.
Estar enamorado/a de alguien OR enamorarse de alguien – To be in love with someone OR to fall in love with someone (stronger than ‘querer a alguien’).
Estar en la olla – “To be in real trouble” or “to be out of luck”.
Estar en sano juicio – To be of sound mind (“sober” in Colombia).
Estar ‘happy’ – To be tipsy (mainly used by women).
Estar jincho/a – To be drunk (Colombian version).
Estar mosca – To be alert.
Estar pensando en… – “To be thinking of” e.g. doing something, going somewhere etc.
Estar prendido/a OR prendo/a – To be tipsy.
Estar saliendo (con alguien) – To be seeing someone (casually).
Estar tragado/a de alguien – To have a big crush on someone / to be totally smitten with someone.
¿Estás contento/a con…? – Are you happy (contented) with….?
El guayabo se quita con…[objeto] – You can get over your hangover by… [whatever].
El hecho de que – The fact that…
Estafa – A scam / rip off.
¿Estás amañado/a (aquí)? – Do you feel settled / at home here?
Estrenar – To wear or use something for the first time.
Festivo – A national holiday.
Finca – A country house and the location for many a social occasion.
Finde – Weekend (shortened version of fin de semana).
Frío/a – Cold, not only of temperature, but also of temperament (i.e. unfriendly or unaffectionate).
Fua fua fua – More enthusiastic version of ‘hahaha’ (or ‘jajaja’ as it would be in Spanish).
Guaro / guarito – Short for aguardiente, the main local alcoholic drink.
(Tener un) Guayabo – (To have a) Hangover.
Gordo/a OR gordito/a – Fatty (pet name for a man/woman).
Gracias a Dios – Thanks to God.
Gracias al señor – Thank the Lord. A popular alternative to ‘Gracias a Dios’.
Habla más que un perdido – To talk more than a ‘lost’ person. “Perdido” can be used literally to mean that someone is lost, but it’s more frequently heard when someone has dropped out of contact for a while. For instance, if you bump into a friend after a couple of weeks without calling or writing to them, they’re probably say “¡estás muy perdido/a!”. By this they mean something like “long time, no see” / “where have you been hiding yourself?” / “where did you disappear to?”.
Hablar (hasta) por los codos – To talk a lot (lit. “To talk out of your elbows”).
Hablamos / estamos hablando – Speak soon.
Hace tiempo que no te veía – It’s been so long since I’d seen you!
Hacer invierno – To be wintry (i.e. rainy).
Hacer un catorce – A way to ask for someone to do you a favour e.g. “Hazme un catorce y pásame esa vaina allí” (“Do me a favour and pass me that thingy there would you?”).
Hacer una vaca – To chip in to buy something.
Hacer una(s) vuelta(s) – A beautifully descriptive expression for “running an errand”; an activity which often involves a lot of going round in circles in Colombia.
Hacer verano – To be summery (i.e. sunny).
Hacerse el gringo – To feign ignorance / to play dumb.
Hágale – Let’s do it / go ahead / sure (Medellín).
Hasta luego – Goodbye (formal).
Hay una cantidad (enorme) – There’s a whole bunch of… / a ton of…
Hembra – Slang term for a woman or girl.
Hermano – Lit. “brother”, but often used to refer to friends.
Hijueputa – Common way to say “hijo de puta” (roughly, “son of a bitch”). In the right hands, this phrase can be used affectionately, but most of the time it is offensive.
Hombre – Literally “man”, but often used non-literally (like how we’d say: “No man. I’m not going there!”).
Infidelidad – Infidelity / cheating
Intenso/a – Of a person: intense, persistent, high-maintenance/annoying.
Ir al grano – To get to the point.
Ir de paseo – To go on a recreational trip.
Irse de espeluque – To go out partying (Caribbean coast).
Irse de rumba – To go out partying.
Jincho de la perra – Totally smashed (drunk).
La verdad es que – The truth is that…
Lanzarse – To make a move on someone (lit. “to throw one’s self).
Lanzado – A guy who is really forward.
(Un) lapicero – A pen.
Les/te cuento que – A nice, natural way to introduce topics ideas, especially in written conversation. Literally it means “I’m telling you that”, but in reality it conveys little additional meaning.
Linda – Beautiful or pretty (pet name for a woman).
Listo – OK / sure (also ‘estar listo‘ – ‘to be ready’ and ‘ser listo‘ – ‘to be smart’).
Llave – Friend (interior of the country). ‘Llave‘ is also literally the word for ‘key’.
Lo bueno es que… – The good thing is…
Lo (más) chévere es que… – The cool(est) thing is…
Lo malo/maluco es que… – The bad thing is…
Lo mejor que le ha pasado en el mundo – The best thing that’s ever happened to someone.
Lo raro es que… – The weird thing is…
Lo visto, pero no lo mantengo – Said about those who eat exaggerated quantities, it roughly means “I can clothe you, but I won’t feed you” (the implication being that you eat so much it’s impossible to provide for you).
Lugarcito – A small place (arguably used more often than “pequeño lugar“).
M’ijo/a – Contraction of “mi hijo” (“my boy”) or “mi hija” (“my girl”), that is often used when addressing friends (e.g. “¿Quiubo m’ijo? ¿Bien o qué?”).
Madrugar – To wake up early.
Maluco – Bad.
Mamacita – A, not entirely classy, slang term for an attractive woman.
Mami – Literally, mummy, but also a pet name for a woman / female friend.
Mamita – One of many terms of endearment that is roughly like “baby”.
Man – A guy.
Mantenerse – Can be used to mean ‘to keep’ someone in the sense of providing for them, or looking after them e.g. “él trabaja mucho para poder mantener a su familia” (“he works hard to provide for his family”).
Más que todo… – Above all… / Especially…
Más aburrido que mico en un bonsái – More bored than a monkey in a bonsai tree (Note that Colombians use the word “mico” for monkey. “Mono”, the term used in most other countries, means “a blond / fair-haired person” in Colombia). Read more.
Más exagerado que un paisa – To exaggerate more than a paisa.
Más feliz que marrano estrenando lazo – To be very happy (lit. “Happier than a pig with a new ribbon / bowtie).
Más feo que pegarle a la mamá – ‘Uglier’ than hitting your mum (“feo” here is used in a broader sense than the English word “ugly” and means something unpleasant or that looks bad).
Más paisa que una arepa – A saying used in Antioquia to describe those who talk or act in ways typical of the region.
Más tragado/a que boxer de ciclista – More ‘swallowed’ (i.e. smitten) than a cyclist’s boxer shorts.
Más tragado/a que calzoncillo de torero – More ‘swallowed’ (i.e. smitten) than a bullfighter’s underwear”.
Más tragado/a que tanga de loca – More ‘swallowed’ (i.e. smitten) than a crazy woman’s thong.
Más vale tarde, que más tarde – A jokey adaptation of the phrase “Más vale tarde que nunca” (“Better late than never”), that means “Better late, than even later”.
Me alegro saludarte – Nice talking to you.
Me alegro verte – It was good to see you.
Me avisas – Let me know.
Me cae fatal – I really don’t like him/her.
Me cae mal – I don’t like him/her.
Me caes muy bien – I like you a lot (non-romantically)
Me cae muy mal – I don’t like him/ her at all.
Me estafaron – I got ripped off / scammed.
Me gustas (mucho) – I have a (big) crush on you.
Me haga el favor – Do me a favour, would you?
Me imagino – I imagine / I suppose.
¡Me lo llevo! – I’ll take it!
Me refiero a… – I’m referring (here) to…
¿Me regalas…? – Could I get…? / Can I have….?
Me suena – Sounds good (to me) OR Sounds familiar.
Media – A half bottle of liquor (can also mean “sock” – don’t get the two mixed up).
Mi amor / mi vida / mi corazón – Literally, my love / my life / and my heart (“sweetheart”), these are all terms of endearment used for either sex.
Mi llave – My friend. ‘Llave‘ is also the word for ‘key’.
Mira... – Technically means “Look…” and is often used by Colombians as a way to start a sentence. Someone explaining directions, for example, may say “Mira, para llegar ahí es medio complicado”, which would be like saying “Listen, it’s a bit difficult to get there” (the literal translation would be “Look, it’s a bit difficult to get there” but this sounds rather more forceful than it does in Spanish).
Mono/a – A blond / fair-haired person (outside Colombia, it means “monkey).
Mostro – Very slangy way to address a friend in Medellín.
Motel – A sex hotel.
Motelear – To go to a sex hotel.
Mozo/a – The person with whom someone commits adultery.
¿Mucho trabajo o qué? / ¿mucho estudio o qué? / ¿mucha fiesta o qué? – Have you been working/studying or partying a lot lately?
Mugre que no mata, engorda – The local version of the “three second rule”, said when picking up (and eating) food that’s just fallen on the floor (lit. “dirt which doesn’t kill you, will fatten you up”).
Mujeres fáciles – ‘Loose’ women.
Mujeriego – A ladies man.
Muy bien / súper bien / demasiado bien – Really good / great (responses for when someone asks how you are).
No en tu caso específico – Not in your case specifically.
No, ¡eso está muy caro! Bájalo un poco más – No, that’s so expensive! Drop the price a little.
No estar bien visto – To not look good (in the sense of society not thinking that something is acceptable).
No hay mal que por bien no venga – Everything bad ultimately happens for a good reason (like a more positive version of “Every cloud has a silver lining”).
No hay peor cosa que… [lo que sea] – There’s nothing worse than… [whatever]
No, no. Está bien – No, no. That’s fine / no problem.
No pasa nada – It’s fine / no worries.
(Yo) no podía de la risa – I was laughing loads / couldn’t stop laughing.
No tener con quien salir/hablar – To have on-one go out with/to talk to
Nombres cariñosos – Pet names / terms of endearment.
¡Nos pegó una borrachera tremenda el sábado! – We got so drunk on Saturday!
Nos vemos – See you soon.
(la) ñapa – An extra thrown in for free with a purchase.
Odontólogo/a – Dentist.
Paisa – Someone from Medellin, or the surrounding areas.
Papacito – Slang term for an attractive man.
Papi – Literally, daddy, but also a pet name for a man.
Parar bolas – To pay attention to / to listen to.
Pasar guayabo – To spend time getting over a hangover.
Paseo – A trip (for recreation). Colombians tend to use “viaje” to describe the journey (as in, being on the transport) rather than the vacation itself.
Pasear – To go on a recreational trip.
Para la próxima – Next time.
Parche – A group of friends, a social life (lit. “A patch). Read more.
Parce / parcero / parcera – Dude / buddy (Medellín).
Pegarle a alguien – To hit someone.
Pelar el cobre – To show your true colours. Read more.
Perfecto – Perfect / great (often heard when confirming arrangements).
Perro – Literally, dog. Of a person: a guy who sleeps around a lot.
¡Pilas! – A warning to watch out or be on your guard. Used in much the same way as “¡ojo!” in other Latin countries.
(ser) pinta / pintoso – A good-looking man. It doesn’t necessarily mean the speaker is attracted to the person they’re talking about and so is used by both men and women.
Piropos – Compliments / flattering remarks.
Pobrecito/a – Poor guy/girl/woman (when being sympathetic).
Ponerse las pilas [en algo] – (lit. “to put in the batteries”) means “to concentrate / dedicate more attention to a particular task or activity”.
Por una parte (y por otra) – Roughly: On the one hand (and on the other…).
Por cierto – By the way.
Por eso – That’s why… / for that reason…
Por fin – Finally.
Por si las moscas – Alternative phrase for “por si acaso”, meaning “just in case”.
Prenderse – To light up OR to get tipsy.
Presentarse – To introduce one’s self (not to be confused with “introducirse”, meaning “to insert one’s self”…).
Pri – Used as a way to address friends (Caribbean coast).
Princesa / princesita – Princess / little princess (pet name for a woman).
Puente – A weekend with a national holiday attached to the beginning or end. (It also means a “bridge”.)
¿Qué cuentas? – What’s new? (greeting).
Que estés bien – Be well.
¿Qué has hecho? – What have you been up to? / What have you been doing lately?
¿Qué hiciste el finde? – What did you get up to at the weekend?
¿Qué más? – What’s up? How’s it going?
¡Qué oso! – How embarrassing! (Bogotá). More detail.
¡Qué pena! – Sorry / excuse me.
Qué pena, pero ya me toca irme / qué pena, pero ya me tengo que ir – Sorry, but I best be on my now.
Que sé yo – A nice conversation-filler phrase when you need a moment to think. Used much like “let’s say” or “I dunno” would be said in these same situations in English.
Que te vaya bien – I hope it goes well.
Que tengas un buen finde – Have a good weekend.
Que yo sepa – “As far as I know / as far as I am aware”.
Querer a alguien – To love someone (in the sense of caring for them a great deal rather than ‘love of your life’ type love).
Querido/a – A nice, kind person.
¿Quién se anima? / ¿quién se apunta? – Who’s up for it? / Who’s in? (When organising activities).
¿Quiubo? (¿Qué hubo?) – What’s up? How’s it going?
Regatear – To bargain or barter (prices).
Resulta que… – It turns out that…
Rolo/a – Someone from Bogotá, or the surrounding areas.
Rumba – A party (usually at a bar or club).
Rumbear – To go out partying.
Sacar la piedra – In the interior of the country this expression means “to lose patience”, “to get angry” or “to not be able to stand something any longer”.
Saludarse – To greet each other / to say hi to one another.
Saludos – Greetings/saying hi (also used as an email sign-off, like a friendlier version of ‘regards’).
Ser esposos – To be husband and wife.
Ser novios – To be boyfriend and girlfriend.
¿Sería tan amable de…? – Would you be so kind as to…? (Works for both serious and sarcastic requests)
Se emborracha voleando un ponche – He/she’d get drunk putting on a poncho (said about someone who gets drunk very easily).
Se fija bien – Loosely: Look carefully at… / pay close attention to….
Se nota que… – You can see that… / it’s clear that…
Se supone que… – It’s supposed to be… / supposedly it’s…
Ser conocido por… – To be (well) known for..
Sobrio/a – Sober (international Spanish).
Suben la chica al cielo – They make the girl feel like she’s in heaven.
Suegros – The parents of your boyfriend/girlfriend, partner or spouse.
Suena feo – It sounds bad (lit. “It sounds ugly”).
Te aviso – I’ll let you know.
Te lo tengo que decir – I gotta tell ya / I have to say (used figuratively).
Tener ganas de – To fancy / to feel like / to want to e.g. ‘tengo ganas de cerveza‘ – ‘I feel like [having] a beer’, or ‘tengo ganas de ti’ – ‘I want you’.
Tener labia, tener (buen) verbo – To be a smooth talker; to have the ‘gift of the gab’.
Tener más sencillo – To have smaller bills (e.g. ¿No tienes más sencillo? – ‘Haven’t you got anything smaller?’)
(No) Tener (nada) que ver con… – To have (nothing) to do with…
Teso, tesa – Someone exceptionally capable (mainly heard in Antioquia).
Tierra caliente – Warmer parts of the country.
Tierra fría – Cooler parts of the country.
Tinto / tintico – Black, filter coffee.
Todo bajo control – Everything’s under control.
¿Todo bien? – All good? (greeting)
Todo el proceso – Literally “the whole process”. Often used more like how we’d say “that whole thing” e.g. “tengo que explicar todo el proceso” is like “I’ve got to explain how that whole thing works”.
Todo sobre ruedas – Everything’s running smoothly.
Tomar unos tragos – To have some (strong) drinks.
Tratar de... – To try to…
Tú y yo….¿Qué somos? – Question to define the status of a relationship (like “what’s going on between us?”, “where are we headed?”).
Tu pareja – Your partner / other half.
Un antioqueño nunca se vara – “People from Antioquia never give up”.
Un gusto conocerte – A pleasure to meet you.
Una belleza – A real beauty (generally applied more to objects and situations than people).
Una chica difícil – A girl who is hard to get (in dating contexts).
¿Una niña tan linda como tú y sin novio? Increíble – A girl as pretty as you without a boyfriend? That’s incredible.
Una relación de pareja – A (romantic) relationship.
Vaina – A ‘thingy’. For other meanings see here.
Vecino – Lit. “neighbor”, but often used to refer to friends.
Vieja – A woman (of about 15-50 years of age).
¿Y por qué me está diciendo eso? – Roughly: Why on earth is s/he saying/telling me that?
Y sobretodo… – And above all / especially.
¿Y usted qué? / ¿y tú que? – And what about you?
…y ya – And that’s it.
Ya – Now, already.
Ya mismo – Right now.
Yo me apunto – I’m in! (when accepting invites)
Become a Colombian Spanish Superhero!
Gain the superpowers of charm and charisma when speaking Spanish.
Sign up for the Colombian Spanish video course today to transform your language skills from ordinary to extraordinary.
English Words That Colombians Love
Speaking natural-sounding Spanish is all about learning how to use the exact same words that locals do, in the exact same contexts. Your teacher or textbook might tell you the correct way to speak, but on the streets of Bogota or Cali, many of these phrases just won’t cut it. Rather than obsessing over how to say things in a technically perfect way, my advice would be to embrace the local variations and imitate them as far as possible.
Writing Spanish Work Emails Like a Pro
The Spanish you’ll come across in the workplace is as different from the textbook version of the language as it is from the sort you’ll hear used on the street. You’ll need to get used to littering your work emails with the kind of long, flowery and ever-so terribly polite expressions that the locals enjoy.