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Spanish language Argentinian Spanish - Yo and Vos

The following article was written by guest author Gabriela Madera.

Hi! My name is Gabriela Madera and I am writing from Buenos Aires, Argentina to make a few comments about the Spanish we speak here, which is quite different from the Spanish students might be studying somewhere else in the world.

Today you are going to learn about the first and second person singular subject pronouns (yo and in most Spanish-speaking countries).

The first person singular is yo. The word is the same in all Spanish-speaking countries; however, the Y may be pronounced differently. Whereas in most places it sounds like the y* in young, here in Argentina the Y can be pronounced in two different ways. Most Argentinians pronounce it sh* as in "short." There is also a less common pronunciation, usually associated with the upper class. In this case, the Y is pronounced zh* like the g in "mirage."

*IPA symbols for these sounds:
y sh zh

As for the second person subject pronoun, learners of Spanish may find themselves at a loss when they speak to an Argentinian, who will use the word vos instead of when speaking in an informal, friendly environment.

In an informal dialog between two young people trying to find out each other's name, this is what you will probably hear:

- ¿Vos cómo te llamás? (Notice the stress on the last syllable of llamás)
- Florencia, ¿y vos?

Vos has its own set of verb conjugations. Let us see some examples.

Tú tienes would be Vos tenés.
Tú eres would be Vos sos.
Tú te llamas would be Vos te llamás.

So if you ever talk to an Argentinian in an informal situation, be ready to hear vos when they talk to you. 

As in other Spanish-speaking countries, when the situation is formal the speakers will use usted (Ud.) instead of vos. As explained in the lesson on subject pronouns, the word usted shows detachment and respect. It would be inappropriate to use vos in a formal situation just as it would be to use usted in an informal one. 


This article is published here with the kind permission of the author:

Gabriela Madera
Profesora Instituto J. V. Gonzalez
Buenos Aires, Argentina


All rights reserved.
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