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…you hear these seven expressions like ALL THE TIME.

People from Montevideo and Buenos Aires have a similar accent when they speak Spanish*. As an English-speaker you can be forgiven for thinking that they sound exactly the same.

But some words and expressions are a dead give-away that the person you are speaking to is a Uruguayan.

Seven expressions to listen out for and know – you’re in Uruguay now.


Used in the same myriad ways an English-speaker uses “OK”. It is a shortened form of the word “está” meaning “it is”. Uruguayans pepper it throughout their speech.


Roughly translates as man or mate and is used similarly. It is the shortened form of “botija” which is a slang word for kid or kiddo. Uruguayans also use “che”, but Argentinians never use “bo”. Here you may hear the double-barrelled “che, bo!”, like hey, man!

Todo bien

Roughly translates as “it’s cool” or “don’t stress”. Typically used with bo and che! As in “Che, bo, todo bien!” It’s an ultra-flexible phrase Uruguayans use to shrug off an annoying or depressing situation like water rolling off a duck’s back. Its ubiquity illustrates their unruffled demeanour.

¡Vamo’ arriba!

Plays a similar role to “todo bien” and the two are often used consecutively. Someone did something to piss you off but you are going to let it go? Uruguayans say: Todo bien bo, vamo’ arriba. Can also be used to give someone encouragement.

¡Divino día!

I was in Buenos Aires recently and declared “¡Divino día!” or “Lovely day!” The Uruguayan with me gasped, you can tell you’ve been living in Montevideo for years, no one in Buenos Aires would ever use that expression!


A multi-use slang word meaning difficult, amazing, enormous, depending on the context. It’s literal meaning is salty.


This one just cracks me up. Basically these exclamations are used to express disbelief or astonishment. Kind of like No way! A variation is ¡PAAA!

* They pronounce the double “ll” and “y” like zzhh, so “uruguayo” (Uruguayan) is pronounced oo-roo-GW-EYE-zzhoh, not oo-roo-GW-EYE-yo as it would be in most of Latin America. (Btw, to the rest of Latin America, this accent sounds super sexy – perhaps a reason to learn Spanish in Uruguay?? 🙂 )

Extracted from: The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo

Photo: Jimmy Baikovicius

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