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Argentina Spanish and Uruguay Spanish: the difference

What is the difference between Argentina Spanish and Uruguay Spanish? Today you will find it out!

The truth is that both variants of Spanish sound actually the same for most native Spanish speakers, let alone Spanish learners.

I’m Argentine and if I come across an Uruguayan, it would generally take me a few minutes to realize that they’re from the other side of the River Plate (yeah, they’re just a ferry away after all!).

And it’s not so much about the accent, as it is about a group of very specific words that would give them (and us) away in an interaction.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Argentina Spanish and Uruguay Spanish: the difference

As every time I speak about Argentine Spanish, I should clarify something: Argentina is a huge country and there’s not a concept like Argentine Spanish as such.

When people talk about Argentine Spanish they actually refer to rioplatense Spanish, the dialect spoken around the River Plate area: that is basically Buenos Aires.

Yes, Buenos Aires and its characteristic sh sound! Although it’s extended to other provinces from the middle of the country down.

That’s the similarity that both Argentina Spanish and Uruguay Spanish share, and which makes it difficult to distinguish one from another.

But what about the specific particularities of Uruguayan Spanish? Here we go!

Ta in Spanish from Uruguay

Given that I’m neither Uruguayan nor an expert about Uruguayan Spanish, I could have never come up with a list of the uses of ta by myself.

It’s actually an expression used in Argentinian Spanish too, but to be honest I’m not sure how often.

The first thing that comes to my mind is ta as ‘okay’, because after all it’s just a contraction of está bien which means ‘it’s okay’, ‘allright’, etc.

But it may seem to be a limited usage, when compared to the way Uruguayan Spanish speakers use it to convey a variety of meanings.

Anyways, there you go:

There are many of them, right? As always, intonation and context will help you figure it out correctly.

Let’s continue with another one: .

Flag of Uruguay - the difference between Argentina Spanish and Uruguay Spanish
Hasta el sol de la bandera uruguaya es parecido y diferente a la vez. Foto de Engin Akyurt de Pexels

Bo in Spanish from Uruguay

Imagine you are at an event talking to a colleague from Uruguay. In Spanish, of course, because you haven’t studied in vain and it’s an opportunity to practice.

And it’s rioplatense Spanish, so you are up for the challenge.

The conversation is going pretty well, until out of the blue this person calls you bo. Having some experience with Argentine Spanish, you know what the word boludo means.

You can’t believe how someone you have known for literally minutes can be so cheeky or disrespectful.

But hey, wait a minute! Your colleague didn’t just call you a short form of boludo.

Bo in Uruguayan Spanish is equivalent to che, which basically can be translated as hey or dude, depending on the context:

—Bo, qué hora es?
—Una en punto.

—¿Cómo te fue en el examen?
—Más o menos. Fue difícil, bo.

You can read more about the meaning of che in rioplatense Spanish here on my blog.

We are almost done! Let’s see finally the difference between both variants in some specific words…

Rioplatense Spanish: same dialect, different words

There are actually a few words that vary between one side of the River Plate and the other, but you don’t need to know every single one.

So I chose carefully those that you are more likely to use or need in a conversation ever:

Argentina SpanishUruguay SpanishEnglish
aroscaravanashoop earring
brochespalillosclothes pin/peg
pibebotija, guríkid, lad

And that’s all for today!

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Thank you very much and until next time,


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