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Guatemalan Spanish 101: Slang, Phrases, & More

Guatemala has everything from some of the most beautiful landscapes, food that’ll blow your whip back, and people that are so friendly that you’ll want to cancel your return flight and stay forever!

But in this article, we are going to go over the Spanish that is spoken by the Guatemaltecos.

We’re going to talk about the most common (and unique) Guatemalan Spanish slang, expressions, pronunciation, and grammar.

Without further ado, let’s hop into the Spanish of Guatemala!

picture of guatemalan cartoon characters infront of a guatemalan flag and a title that says "The Spanish of Guatemala"

Summary: The Spanish Spoken In Guatemala

Amongst many other slang used in Guatemala, here are the top 3 Guatemalan words:

  • Pisto - Money

  • Patojo/a - Young person

  • Cuate - Friend, buddy

There are a ton of unique Guatemalan expressions, here are the 3 that are super common:

  • ¡Sanigua! - Wow!

  • Tirar paja - To lie

  • No tengas pena - Don’t worry

Voseo in Guatemala:

Instead of saying in Guatemala, they say vos. If you don't know how to use voseo, it's actually pretty easy, just check out this article where I explain everything you need to know about it!

Read the full article to get a good grasp on the Spanish spoken in Guatemala. Enjoy!

Guatemalan Slang/Vocabulary 101

Animated cartoon characters standing in front of a guatemalan flag with words that say "Guatemalan Vocabulary"

Chilero/a - Cool, awesome 😎

The word Chilero/a is used in Guatemalan Spanish to refer to something that is super good, or awesome. For example:

Esa película que vimos anoche fue muy chilera

(That movie we watched last night was super good)

Patojo/a - Young person 🙎‍♂️

This is the Guatemalan word that means Kid. For example:

Hay un montón de patojos jugando por allí

(There are a bunch of kids playing over there)

Pisto - Money 💸

This is a word used in Guatemala and Honduras to refer to money. For example:

No tengo el pisto para comprarlo

(I don’t have the money to buy it)

Papo - Silly, Stupid 🤓

This word can be used like tonto is in standard Spanish. Basically, in a certain kind of relationship it can be an endearing way of picking on someone, but it can also be an insult. For example:

Vos sos muy papo

(You are very stupid/silly)

Cuate - Friend, buddy 👭

Cuate in Guatemalan Spanish is a word that's usually used to refer to a close friend. For example:

Julia es mi cuate, la conocí cuando tenía solo 5 años

(Julia is my friend, I met her when I was only 5 years old)

Chapín/Chapina - Guatemalan 🕺

This is a word that Guatemalans use to refer to themselves (as Guatemalans). For example:

Soy chapín, y nunca dejaría mi tierra

(I am Guatemalan, and I would never leave my land)

¡Aguas! - Watch Out! 🗣

Just like this phrase is used in Mexico it is used in Guatemala. The word comes from a time before modern-day plumbing when people would do their business in buckets.

Whenever these people would empty their buckets (Usually by tossing them out the window - they would yell ¡Aguas! to warn anyone who might be standing outside the window.

Shuco - Dirty 👎

This word is used just like the Standard-Spanish word sucio - meaning dirty. For example:

Qué lugar tan shuco

(What a dirty place)

Chucho/a - Dog 🐕

Watch out! If you say this in other countries such as Panama, it’s about the worst curse word in the world. However, in Guatemala, it just means a dog. For example:

Hay muchos chuchos en la calle

(There are many dogs in the street)

Pajero/a - Liar 🤥

In Guatemalan Spanish, pajero or pajera is somebody who is always lying like the standard Spanish word - Mentiroso. For example:

Yo no escucho nada de lo que dice ese pajero

(I don’t listen to a thing that liar says)

Banano - Plantain 🍌

Whereas in many Spanish-speaking countries, a plantain is a plátano, in Guatemalan Spanish they say Banano. Ex:

Me gustaría 4 bananos por favor

(I would like 4 plantains please)

Chivas - Things 👡☂️👜

This word meaning Goats is used in Guatemala to refer to all things. For example:

Ey Mateo, yo ví unas chivas tuyas en mi casa. ¿Las querés?

(Hey Matteo, I saw some of your things in my house. Do you want them?)

De peluche - Chilling 😎

To be of teddy bear in Guatemala means to be chilling. For example in the sentence:

No he hecho nada hoy, he estado de peluche viendo Netflix

(I haven’t done anything today, I have been chilling watching Netflix)

Shute - Nosy person 🧐

In Guatemalan Spanish, a shute is somebody who is trying to get involved in everybody else's business. For example:

Yo no hablo con ese shute, él contaría nuestra conversación a todos

(I don’t speak with that nosy dude, he would repeat our whole conversation to everybody)

Guatemalan Expressions

Animated cartoon character with chat bubble standing in front of a guatemalan flag with words that say "Guatemalan Expressions"

¡Sanigua! - Wow! 🙀

The expression "Sanigua" is a Guatemalan expression used to express surprise or admiration. For example:

¡Sanigua! Te ves hermosísima

(Wow! You look so beautiful)

Me va a dar el telele - I’m about to lose it 😤

There are a few ways this can be used in Guatemalan Spanish, so we’ll just discuss 2 of them.

1 - It can show annoyance, if a kid is going nuts in the living room the mother might say:

Me va a dar el telele (I am about to lose it)

2 - It can express fear. For example, if you heard super loud thunder that shook your house you might say: AYY! Me va a dar el telele (AAY! That’s gonna give me a heart attack)

No tengas pena - Don’t worry 👌

Of course, you can use the phrase no te preocupes here, but in Guatemala more often they will say no tengas pena. For example:

Podés comer lo que sea de la nevera no tengas pena

(You can eat what you want from the fridge don’t worry)

Dame chance - Give me a few minutes/Job 👨‍🏭

This phrase can mean two things depending on the context.

1 - Give me a few minutes - Example: Voy a hacerlo pronto dame un chancecito (I am going to do it soon give me a few min)

2 - Give me a job - Example: ¿Podría conseguirme un chance allí? (Could I get a job there?)

Dar jalon - To give a ride 🚕

The phrase "Dar jalon" is used in Guatemala to ask for a ride. For example:

Ey Emela ¿podés darme jalon?

(Hey Emela, could you give me a ride?)

¡Gracias! - Yes! 👍

This is a bit of a cultural difference that shows in the language. If for example, someone asks you if you want something - you can respond by saying thanks and they’ll take that as yes. Ex:

Ey José ¿querés un cafecito? - ¡Gracias!

(Hey José, do you want some coffee? - Yeah!)

Tirar paja - To lie 👺

In Guatemala to say that somebody is lying they say he is throwing straw. For example:

Ese wey está tirando paja

(That dude is lying)

Guatemalan Pronunciation

Animated cartoon characters standing in front of a guatemalan flag with words that say "Guatemalan Pronunciation"

The Guatemalan pronunciation is quite standard. Despite this being the truth there is a small distinction that is made from what we’ll call Standard-Spanish. Here is what I have found to be prevalent in the Guatemalan Pronunciation:

How Guatemalans Pronounce the D

The D in Guatemala sometimes sounds super light and under-pronounced. Of course, if you have studied the Dominican Dialect for example this will come as no surprise.

But for example, I have heard some Guatemalans pronounce the D like this:

La verdad = La ver'a’ | Comida = Comia | Ciudad = Ciu'a’ |

Guatemalan Use Of Voseo

Like many Central American countries, Guatemalans use Vos instead of when they are speaking to their family or friends. If you don’t know what Voseo is or how to use it, I suggest you check out this article where I explain exactly how it works.

But to give you a quick rundown - Voseo comes with its very own conjugations. This is not for all tenses, so dont worry, it’s not that bad. But for example in the present tense to conjugate for Vos, remove the R from the verb, add an accent mark on the last vowel, and throw an S on the end.

For example: Escribir - R = Escribi + ´ + S = Escribís | Vos escribís = You write |

chart comparing the conjugations for Tú and Vos in Spanish

If you want to understand all of the conjugations for Vos check out that article and you’ll learn all you need to know in 5 minutes!

Frequently Asked Questions About Guatemalan Spanish

woman answering questions

How Is Guatemalan Spanish Different?

Guatemalan Spanish is different than most Latino-American Spanish Dialects because they speak slowly, they pronounce their S's most of the time, and they use Vos instead of Tú. Other differences in the Guatemalan Spanish dialect can be found in the plethora of slang and expressions that they use.

Guatemalan Spanish Vs Mexican Spanish

Guatemalan Spanish and Mexican Spanish are extremely similar. The greatest differences are found in the Guatemalans use of Vos instead of Tú, and the slang and expressions used. While each country has many of their own slang terms, they also share many of the same ones.

Guatemalan Spanish Accent

The Guatemalan Spanish accent is very neutral. For any speaker of Spanish this is an easy dialect to understand. The only noticeable difference in pronunciation is found in specific areas where the D is pronounced very lightly. Because of this, the word "Verdad" might sound like "Ver'a."

Conclusion: Guatemalan Spanish 101: Slang, Expressions, and Grammar

From new words to say friend, money, and you, the Guatemalan Dialect is extremely unique. If you have the opportunity to speak with a Guatemalan or go to Guatemala, you should definitely memorize these words - so you don’t look like me during my first 2 weeks in Panama 😂.

I hope you enjoyed learning about this dialect. If you're interested in learning about the very similar Mexican Spanish dialect, click here wey!

It was wonderful discussing this with you.

¡Hasta luego!

~ Benjamin


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