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The Spanish Of Venezuela: Slang, Phrases, & More

According to a census done in 2001, there are at least 31 indigenous languages that are still spoken in Venezuela. So as you can imagine, there has been a ton of influence from these languages on the Venezuelan vernacular.

To my ears, Venezuelan Spanish sounds like the Spanish equivalent of American outskirt accents, with a couple of pinches of Caribbean.

Basically, it’s got flow, rhythm, it’s got style, and sometimes it can sound like they’re singing.

image with venezuelan flag, simon bolivar, and traditional dress. It reads "The venezuelan dialect"

Summary of The Spanish Spoken in Venezuela

The Spanish Spoken in Venezuela is extremely beautiful and unique. The Venezuelan Dialect has taken in many words from its local indigenous languages.

However, it’s still a super useful dialect to know due to all of the vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation it shares with many of its neighbors!

Furthermore, you can take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to use vos in place of tú!

Some of the most notable words, and phrases that exist in the Venezuelan Dialect of Spanish are:

  • Bacano - Cool

  • Bolo - A buck (dollar)

  • Cambur - Banana

  • Carajito - Kid

  • Jalar Bola - To help somebody out

  • Echarle pichón - To give it a go

The most important changes in the pronunciation of Venezuelan Spanish are:

  • Aspiration of the “s”

  • The disappearance of the “d”

  • The disappearance of the “r”

The vocabulary of Venezuelan Spanish

venezuelan flags, map, and birds, it reads "the venezuelan vocabulary"

Bacano - Cool 😎

Bacano is a word that’s used in Colombia and Venezuela to say “cool.” For example:

Ey esos zapatos son muy bacanos

(Hey those shoes are real cool)

Bicho - Guy (Vulgar) 👨‍🎤

In Venezuela, bicho - meaning bug, is kind of used like the word cabron. It means something like a dumbass, idiot. For example in the sentence:

Ese bicho no viene hoy

(That dumbass isn’t coming today)

Boleta/boletosa - Flashy 👑

Boleta (or boletosa) - meaning ticket or receipt, can be used to describe something flashy. For example, a Venezuelan might say:

No lleves esa plata tan boleta así, te van a robar

(Don’t walk around flashing your money like that, you’re gonna get robbed)

Bolo - Bolívar 🤴

If you don't know, Simón Bolívar is the man who helped make Venezuela gain their independence from Spain.

Nowadays his name is used to refer to the Venezuelan dollar that’s named after him. Bolo is kind of like saying “a buck” in the US.

Ey bro me puedes pasar 10 bolos y te los devuelvo mañana?

(Hey bro can you give me 10 bucks and I’ll return it to you tomorrow?)

Guachimán - Security Guard 👮

This word comes from English and has multiple origin stories that are told. The most popular being that Spanish speakers heard English speakers saying "watchman" - and they started using the word.

This word can be heard in Venezuela, Panama, and The Dominican Republic.

Anteayer esa tienda tenía solo un guachimán, ahora tiene 3

(The day before yesterday that store only had one security guard, now it has 3)

Macundales - A bunch of things ⌚️📱💻📷

Macundales in Venezuela is used to refer to a bunch of things that are usually for one purpose. All of your books, pencils, and notes for school - would be your macundales. Example:

Niños, agarren tus macundales y vamos para la escuela. ¡No pueden faltar otro día!

(Kids, grab your stuff, and let’s head out for school, you can’t miss another day!)

Güevón - Lazy/Stupid 🦥

To be a güevón is a really bad thing. For example, I heard somebody explain the word like this:

Un güevón es estúpido, no puede superar sus problemas. Un güevón siempre será un güevón y no hay nada que se puede hacer para cambiarlo.

(A güevón is stupid, he can't overcome his problems. A güevón will always be a güevón and there is nothing that can be done to change him)

Cambur - Banana 🍌

I heard a story from Ary Tenorio who is a Venezuelan youtuber living in Mexico - where she said that she was really hungry in Mexico and saw a stand with bananas.

She asked the guy for a pound of “cambur” and the man said, “Sorry I don’t sell that”.

And she said, “What do you mean you don’t sell that? I am looking at them!”.

Then she had a Mexican let her in on the secret, that cambur doesn’t mean banana to anyone in Mexico.

Patilla - Watermelon 🍉

Yeah, it’s not just the word for banana, Venezuela has many different words for fruit for some reason. Patilla is sandía (watermelon) in Venezuelan Spanish.

Jojoto - Corn on the cob 🌽

You might hear on the beaches of Venezuela somebody yelling “jojootooo jojoootooo” - if you do, he is trying to sell you corn on the cob, usually covered in butter and with a pinch of salt. hmmm yum.

Carajito - Little kid 🧑‍

This is a peculiar one. Carajo is usually a more vulgar word, like “qué carajo” which means “what the hell”. But Venezuelans refer to their kids as carajitos. For example:

Ey nena, dónde están los carajitos?

(Hey baby, where are the kids?)

Vaina - AnyTHING 👈

If you don't know this word yet, it’s worth learning! You’ll hear vaina in just about every Latin American country. It just means a thing - especially when you don't know what it’s called.

Ey pásame esa vaina

(Hand that thing to me)

Phrases That Are Unique To Venezuelan Spanish

pictures of venezuelan cartoons and flag that reads "unique venezuelan phrases"

Está Peluo - It’s difficult 😓

The word peluo in Venezuela means “something difficult” or complicated.

Todo el proyecto estará bien peluo

(The whole project will be very difficult)

Jalar Bola - To help somebody out 🤝

They say that this phrase came from old prisons where the prisoners would have heavy balls chained to their ankles.

A prisoner might have asked somebody to hold their ball for them if they were too weak to carry it.

From that punishment came the saying which is used like in the sentence:

Ay hermano me puedes jalar bola con esto

(Hey bro can you hold the ball (for me) with this)

Echarle pichón - To give it a go 👌

The story behind this one apparently is that back in the day there were wells installed in Venezuela that said in English “push down” on the handle (to pump the water),

The Venezuelans didn’t know what that meant, so they started saying “echarle pichón”. Basically meaning “We don't know exactly what to do - but we’ll give it a go”.

Yo no sé nadar pero puedo echarle pichón

(I don't know how to swim but I can give it a go)

Echar un camarón - Take a nap 😴

The story be it true or false takes place in the 20th century when there were American oil companies in Venezuela working amongst the locals. Apparently, the Americans would say to the Venezuelans "I'll come around again soon" - and they would go take a nap.

So the Venezuelans started using this phrase in their own way. Only the spelling changed to make it a little more Spanish. And like that, come around became camarón.

Ey papá estaré en mi habitación, voy a echar un camarón

(Hey dad I'll be in my room, I'm gonna take a nap)

Llora pues - Cry about it 😭

Used to tell somebody there is nothing that can be done about their problem. It also implies that you should stop complaining to the person that said it.

Ay ya me cansé de la U - hmm, llora pues

(Ahh I’m tired of college - hmm, cry about it then)

Venezuelan Spanish: Grammar & Pronunciation

venezuelan flag with two people talking that reads "venezuelan grammar and pronunciation"

Voseo in Venezuela

Vos is used in certain parts of Venezuela, including the Zolia, and Andes regions.

Whereas a majority of the country speaks in the tú form, it is always good to know how to use voseo.

What makes voseo in Venezuela different?

What differentiates voseo in Venezuelan Spanish is that they have two different forms of voseo.

One that follows the traditional voseo rules, and one with carries characteristics of vosotros in Spanish. Take a look at the charts below!

Traditional voseo found in Rioplatense Spanish (For example)

chart showing how tradicional voseo works

These conjugations all make sense, right? The only conjugations which change from the normal Tú forms are the present tense, and the imperative.

Here are a few more examples of how this change looks: This time with the corresponding tú conjugations:

Presente: vos comés / vos vivís | tú comes / tú vives

Past Tense: vos comiste / vos viviste | tú comiste / tú viviste

Future: vos comerás / vos vivirás | tú comerás / tú vivirás

Imperative: comé / viví | come / vive

Now let’s take a look at the other form of voseo found in Venezuelan Spanish!

chart showing how voseo works in part of venezuela

Voseo Used in The Zolia Region of Venezuela

These are the conjugations that can be found in the Zolia region of Venezuela. Notice how they look like Spanish vosotros conjugations?

Below are some more examples so you can better understand this change:

Present: vos coméis / vos vivís | tú comes / tú vives

Past Tense: vos comisteis / vos vivisteis | tú comiste / tú viviste

Future: vos comeréis / vos viviréis | tú comerás / tú vivirás

Imperativo: comé / viví | come / vive

micheal scott saying "Nope. Don't like that"

Caribbean Spanish 🌊

It’s important to understand the basics of Caribbean Spanish when interacting with Venezuelans.

This is because many cities in Venezuela are on the Caribbean coast, so many of the aspects of Caribbean Spanish are found in the everyday speech of Venezuelans.

But we’ll talk about these changes in the letters section below!

Letters That Are Pronounced Differently In Venezuelan Spanish

The most common letters that you will find often pronounced differently than what might be considered "standard" are the S, D, and R. Let's take a look at how they change!

Aspiration of the “s”

The aspiration of the s is a super common change in many Spanish Dialects. This occurs when the speaker trades out the “s sound” for an “h sound” like in the following example:

Los gatos están corriendo en la casa (The cats are running in the house)

Loh’ gatoh’ eh’tan corriendo en la casa

The disappearing “d”

This one can also be found in most places, but most prominently is known as a Caribbean Spanish feature.

The “disappearing d” does exactly that, it is forgotten - especially at the end of words where a or o are followed by a d and an a or o thereafter - for example:

Complicado = Complica’o

Interesado = Interesa’o

Lado = La’o

Mentalizado = Mentaliza’o

The disappearing “r”

At the end of verbs, it’s quite common to hear the “r” disappear in Venezuelan Spanish. This happens in many other Caribbean Dialects too! For example:

Correr (To run) = Corre'

Caminar (To walk) = Camina'

Hablar (To speak) = Habla'

The use of Diminutives

Just like in Costa Rica, where the people are known as “The Ticos” because of their use of the diminutive “tico” - this is the most used diminutive in Venezuela too!

If you don’t know, a diminutive is just an addition to a word that makes it smaller, or that is, the noun becomes smaller. For example Casa + ita = Casita (House + little + Little house). Some common uses of tico in Venezuelan Spanish are:

Tico Use -
  • Ratico - (Rato) Meaning a little while

  • Momentico - (Momento) Meaning just one moment

  • Gatico - (Gato) Meaning little cat

  • Platito - (Plato) Meaning little plate

Conclusion: Venezuelan Spanish

Venezuelan Spanish is just as distinct as any other dialect, it comes with its very own vocabulary, expressions, grammar, and pronunciation. If you are considering learning the Venezuelan Dialect I applaud you - This is one of the most beautiful dialects of all.

Not to mention the people who speak this dialect are some of the nicest, most humble of all.

If you need to better understand how to use voseo check out this article which is a step-by-step guide that will teach you all the rules.

Have a wonderful day/evening/night and keep acquiring the language.

We’ll talk more soon, hasta luego.

~ Ben


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