This blog post was updated on August 25, 2021.
It’s All About “Tú”
It’s NOT All About “Yo”
Avoid Certain Embarrassing Language Gaffs
Always Greet and Say Adiós
Pronounce “Z” and “C” (after “i” and “e”) as “S”
Pronunciation can be one of the more confusing parts of speaking a new language in a foreign country. This can be made even harder by the fact that different countries and regions have different ways of pronouncing the same words. The biggest example is in Mexico, the letters “Z” and “C” are pronounced as the English way of saying “S” when they come after “I and “E” in a word. For example, the word feliz, which means “happy”, is pronounced as “fel-eece” rather than “fel-eez”. Similarly, the word peces (plural of the word “fish”) is said as “pay-ses” rather than “pieces”.
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Use the Preterite Verb Tense Instead of Present Perfect
The preterite tense refers to past actions and the perfect tense refers to actions that take place in an undetermined time frame. An example of each for the word “hablar” (to speak) in the “yo” (personal) form are as follows. The perfect tense would be “yo he hablado” and the preterite tense would be “yo hable”. In Mexico, the preterite tense is most commonly used, so make sure to watch out for confusing these two forms.
Use Some Slang (But Not All the Time)
One of the more difficult parts of speaking a language in a foreign country is the local slang because it is hard to teach in a classroom and doesn’t usually show up on a Spanish test. While using local terms, be sure to be respectful and remember that you are a visitor to the country. It is always better to make sure you are a comfortable speaker and familiar with the person you are talking with before using slang words. Some of the most common Mexican slang terms include “güey”, which is basically like saying “dude” in English. Another term is “Neta” which is roughly translated to “the truth” and is usually posed as a question, like “for real?”.
Another slang phrase when yelled out is “¡Aguas!”, but doesn’t mean “water!”. It is another way of yelling to some “watch out!” when they are in danger. Finally, the phrase “Órale” is used to add enthusiasm to a sentence, similar to “Wow” or “No Way!” in English.
Be Aware of Words/Usages Unique to Mexican Vocabulary
When booking cheap flights in August to Mexico, keep in mind that certain words and ways of using them beyond pronunciation that are particular to that specific country! Some of the most common terms one may come across when traveling in Mexico that are different than other countries like Spain include “carro” rather than “coche” to refer to a car. An apartment is called a “apartamento” rather than “piso”. Finally, use the word “Celular” for a phone rather than “Móvil”.