5 useful Spanish phrases you should know before visiting Colombia

10 phrases you should know before visiting Colombia

When I traveled to Colombia, I was surprised by how difficult I found Colombian Spanish to begin with. There were so many new words that I did not know the meaning of, so I started to write them down. My notes ended up becoming this post!

So, let’s brush up on your Spanish, so you are completely prepared to be understood in Colombia – and don’t make the same mistakes as me! To polish off your basic Spanish and help you get the perfect pronunciation, check out this essential Spanish guide from the Intrepid Guide. Or consider finding a native Spanish-speaker on italki.com.

I hope you will enjoy these 5 useful phrases you should know before visiting Colombia. And of course, let me know in the comments if I miss any good ones!

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Brush up your Spanish with these 5 these useful phrases for being understood in Colombia

#1 Tinto if you are a coffee lover 

Now it is time to find paper and pen if you are a coffee-loving person like me… Or well, maybe just that notebook program on your phone! Anyway, this is an essential word for all of us coffee lovers visiting Colombia. Because let’s face it Colombia is the coffee heaven on earth. So you better know how to order your coffee.

In Colombia, tinto is black coffee

Yes, yes I know that your Spanish teacher properly once told you that café is plain black coffee. However, if you order a café in Colombia they think you want a café con leche (e.g. a coffee with milk).

So, you better be careful about what you actually want; tinto or café.

Traveling to Colombia? Remember to include these lovely Colombian villages in your itinerary!
Brush up your Spanish with these 5 these useful phrases for being understood in Colombia

#2 Con mucho gusto can be used for everything 

I think every country has some words or phrases which people completely overused in their daily life. For me, in Colombia, it is the expression con mucho gusto (e.g. with pleasure).

When speaking with Colombians this phrase was repeated so many times that it was almost funny.

Instead of saying “nice meeting you”, you can say con mucho gusto. Or it can be used as a response after saying “thank you”, you say con mucho gusto. Or in the shops after selling or buying something, you can say… Well, con mucho gusto. It simply can be used for everything.

So be sure to add a little bit of con mucho gusto when visiting Colombia.

Brush up your Spanish with these 5 these useful phrases for being understood in Colombia

#3 Chevere if you want to be cool 

Ah, Chevere, the guy in the reception says nodding approving while he inspects my passport de Dinamarca, chevere (e.g. from Denmark).

In Colombia, chevere is used in a similar way as cool in English.

And it can be used in literally EVERY possible (and impossible) situation. So no doubt you will hear this while in Colombia. 

Are you not sure whether Bogotá is chevere to visit? Check out these 5 reasons why I think you should add the Colombian capital to your itinerary!
Brush up your Spanish with these 5 these useful phrases for being understood in Colombia

#4 A la orden when you are out shopping

At first, I thought it was just something people in Bogota was saying.

Then, I visited a small town in the Santander region, and by entering a market, every vendor was saying it as well: a la orden, a la orden, señorita. 

Directly translated it means “for the order” but the meaning is more something like “for your service” or “ready to take your order/request”.

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Brush up your Spanish with these 5 these useful phrases for being understood in Colombia

#5 Mono if you are as white as me

After quite a big misunderstanding in the airport upon my arrival to Bogotá (read the whole story here!), I spent some days puzzled about whether mono really refers to a monkey in Colombia… Or something else!

Well, mono definitely is used for something else in Colombia! They use it to refer to people being as white-skinned as me!

Looking for ways to improve your Spanish from home? Check out my favorite methods for Spanish learning here!
Brush up your Spanish with these 5 these useful phrases for being understood in Colombia

If you are looking for more tips on traveling in Colombia, you should definitely check out this awesome complete Bible for Backpacking in Colombia by Thomas from Tom! Plan my Trip Colombia who is an expat in Colombia and a true expert on the country. 

Looking for more of my resources about Colombia? Find them here!

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10 comments

  1. njvdesign

    “Con mucho gusto ” se emplea para recalcar que es un placer hacer algo. Cuando conoces a alguien no dices “con mucho gusto” dices “encantado de conocerte” ó “mucho gusto en conocerte”. Si pides un café con leche es así de simple “Café con leche”. Un café es café negro “black coffee” igual que un “tinto”. “A la orden” se emplea para preguntar si “necesitas algo” o “may a help you”

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Hola! Muchas gracias por visitar mi página y por las correcciones! Son muy buenas! Voy a justificar la explicaciones en la discripción. Gracias 🙂

      Reply

  2. Rebecca

    I’m sure I would hear mono a lot!! Thanks for the tips!

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Haha, I completely get you! The same happened to me 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!!

      Reply

      1. Mariana

        Mono isn’t for white people, it is for blonde people. In Mexico they say güero/ güerita for blond

        Reply

        1. Rebecca

          Hi Mariana, thank you so much for dropping by my blog! Oh, thanks for the aclarification about “mono”, I’ll edit right away 🙂

          Reply

  3. Natalia

    I am Colombina and I can tell this post I found it delightful to read!
    everything you say is so true! I hope you had fun visiting my country. ;D

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Hi Natalia,
      Thank you so much for dropping by! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the reading! I was very delighted to visit Colombia, and hope to be back someday soon 🙂

      Reply

  4. Paula

    Hey! Loved your post. Im Colombian and actually, the word “mono” is because of your blond hair 😁

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Hi Paula! Thank you so much for dropping by! I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the post and thank you for the clarification about “mono” 🙂

      Reply

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