Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world, and there are about 20 countries that have it as an official language. Taking that into account, it’s easy to imagine that when we talk about Spanish we can’t talk about a standard Spanish; our language is a mix of the different cultures of the Spanish speaking region. From Latin America to Spain accents vary, as well as colloquial expressions. We use different words to name the same objects and we even conjugate verbs in a different way, however we still manage to understand each other.
Problems start with simple mundane things like going to the supermarket. How do you say pineapple in Spanish? Well it depends on the region; it can be ananás or piña, and what about banana? Well it could be banana, banano or cambur, and how do I say ‘guy’ in Spanish? In Spain they would immediately say ‘tío’, in Latin America ‘tipo’, but don’t dare to call a guy ‘tío’ in Latin America unless he’s your uncle (since that’s the literal meaning of ‘tío’).
Things can only get worse when you think about conjugating verbs. ‘You are’ in its plural form can be ‘ustedes son’ (in most parts of Latin America, used formally and informally), and ‘vosotros sois’ (in Spain, only informal). Same happens with ‘you are’ in its singular form, which is ‘tú eres’ in most of Latin America and Spain, ‘vos sos’ in Argentina and ‘vos eres’ in some countries of Central America. If you are a bit confused at this point, don’t worry. It is as complicated as it sounds, even for native speakers. Also, there are some very colloquial words that change greatly from country to country, and here are some examples of these:
Resaca (hangover): chuchaqui, goma, ratón, hachazo, cruda, caldero, jangover, guayabo…
Dinero (money): baro, teca, guita, cobre, plata, pisto, quivo, pasta, cuartos…
However, there are also some words that change their meanings drastically from one country to another:
In Mexico: money for daily expenses.
In Dominican Republic: a fraud.
In Venezuela: a person in a prominent job position and with lots of contacts.
In Argentina: bad smell under the arms.
In Uruguay: vomit.
In Uruguay: an adjective with a very positive or very negative connotation.
In Spain: funny.
In Mexico, Venezuela, and Peru: a person with very bad luck.