10 most useful spanish words to know in Colombia

These 10 simple to remember Spanish words are guaranteed to help any traveller slip smoothly into Colombian culture.

  1. Todo bien: ´all good´ – This expression is used all over Latin America and is especially popular in Colombia. You can say it to a street kid or the president, either as a question: ´todo bien? ´ or an answer: ´todo bien…´
  2. Chévere:´awesome´. A very popular word in Colombia and the Caribbean to describe anything positively. Anyone can say ´chevere´ to anyone. Put a ´Que´ (keh) in front to say ´How cool! ´. If somebody asks you what you think of Colombia, a great answer would be ´Colombia es chévere´.
  3. Paila: ´bad´ or ´bummer´. This word is 100% Colombian. It can be used to politely describe a thing, a place or a situation that is not good.
  4. Listo: ´OK´ or ´ready´. A very common word in Colombia, ´listo´ can be used to signify that you understand, to say that you are ready or to simply just say OK. It is also commonly used as a question – ´listo? ´.
  5. Rico: Technically it translates to ´rich´, however ´rico´ is more commonly used in Colombia to describe something as being ´pleasant´ or ´delicious´. For example, lying on the beach at the paradise San Andres Island would be ´rico´ as well as the coco loco cocktail´s that they serve there. You can also say ´Que rico verte´, an intimate way to say ´How nice to see you´, and ´rico´ is also used as a crude way to describe somebody who is sexually attractive.
  6. Qué pena: ´sorry´ or ´Pardon me´. Outside of Colombia ´que pena´ means ´what a shame´ and therefore is a prime example of the politeness of Colombians. Here it is common to use if you bump someone on the street, are trying to use a big note to buy a cheap item, or even to interrupt someone.
  7. Fresco: ´no worries´. This Colombian slang has its roots in the translation of ´chilled´ and ´cool´. Say it to a Spaniard and they will think that you´re talking about the temperature.
  8. De una: ´let´s do it! ´. This is a great enthusiastic expression that it is very colloquial yet is frequently used in virtually every level of formality.
  9. Que tal?: usually used after ´Hola´ to mean ´Hi how´s it going?´. A useful trick is to use it at the beginning of a sentence to mean ´how is´ or ´how was´. E.g. ´Que tal el restaurante?´ or ´Que tal Cartagena?´.
  10. Vamos: ´Let´s go´. The tone will determine whether it´s a question or an answer. ´VAMOS A COLOMBIA!!!´ is not a question…

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