Chilean Spanish

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Spanish is often referred to as Castilian. However, differences exist between Peninsular (Spain) and Latin American Spanish. Similarly, regional differences exist within those two groups. Chilean Spanish follows the same basic rules as Spanish from other Countries. However, there are some special vocabulary and usages that you will only find in Chile.

Learning generic (non-Chilean) Spanish[edit]

The following online resources are helpful for learning Spanish, but are not specific to Chilean Spanish.


  • BBC Mi Vida Loca, Audio/Video. (The site says you need a broadband connection.).

Vocabulary builders[edit]

  • Goethe-Verlag 200 Tests.
    • Free.
    • 200 tests, 50 crossword puzzles.
    • Progresses from easy to difficult. Useful to reinforce what is learned from lessons, even for beginners.
    • Available in Spanish to English.
  • Quia Spanish.
    • USD50 annually. However it appears to be free to use the exercises.
    • 6000 exercises, quizzes, flash cards, games.
    • Suitable for all levels. But, not easy to find resources within a certain level.
  • Vocabulary Training Exercises.
    • Free.
    • A lot of words by categories. But, not organized from simple to difficult. Therefore, it's suited for intermediate and above.
    • Supports Spanish to English.
  • Words Galore.
    • Free
    • 1000 to 9000 words. Ability to add your own words.
    • Multiple-choice tests.
    • Flashcards.
    • Speaks the words.
    • Supports Spanish to English.


Comparing types of Spanish[edit]

Spanish is often referred to as "castellano", or "Castilian". In parts of Spain there is a desire to call the national language "castellano" instead of "español", as there are other recognised languages spoken within España, including Catalan, Basque, and Gallego. Within much of Latin America, "castellano" and "español" are used interchangeably.

Differences exist between the castellano of the Peninsula (Spain) and the broad range of Latin American Spanish variants, in lexicon as well as accents and other features. The lexical differences can lead to misunderstandings and even considerable embarrassment, in much the same way that using British English in North America often does.

There is no single "Latin American Spanish". However, part of the early evolution of each Latin American country's language can be traced to colonial-era factors, including the origins of early Spanish immigrants (Canarias vs Extremadura, for example) as well as the connections of a colony to a viceregal ("virreinal") capital. There can be significant differences from one country and another and a single regional word can quickly identify the origin of a person. In the film, "The Motorcycle Diaries," the two Argentine protagonists, having spent a long time in the Valparaiso area, are shown in a sunset scene using two short sentences which humourously reveal that they have been in Chile for too long.....

Many of the food words heard in Chile and elsewhere in southern South America may differ from the Spanish terms heard in North America, such as "aguacate" vs "palta" for "avocado." In this example, the word "palta" is regional and not uniquely Chilean. "Palta" is a Quechua word, whereas "aguacate" comes from a Nahuatl (Mexico) term which means "testicle". Similarly, many terms widely believed to be uniquely Chilean (such as tincar, as in "me tinca..." ) are in fact used in other parts of the Andean region.

Formal Chilean Spanish generally follows the same basic rules as Spanish from other countries. However, there are some special vocabulary and usages that you find generally restricted to Chile, along with considerable use of slang. Just as Peninsular Spanish adopted a large number of Arabic words as a result of the long Moorish occupation of Iberia and the technology insertions of other nations, so too has Chile adopted many words from the various indigenous groups, as well as terms from English, French, Indonesian, and other languages. At times those adopted words have been modified in meaning and form (such as the Chilean use of "footing" to refer to what North Americans call "jogging").

A newcomer should also note that Chilean, as most other variants of Spanish, is extremely rich in vulgarity. Many quotidian expressions that appear superficially to comprise innocent terms are in fact a bit off-colour for truly polite speech. As a result, attempts by new immigrants (without a strong foundation in formal Spanish) to blindly mimic the speech of Chileans can lead to undesired effects.

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