The Spanish of Mexico
Some Common Expressions Unique to Mexico
There are many expressions in common use in Mexico that distinguish the Spanish spoken in Mexico from the Spanish spoken in other areas. It should also be pointed out, that like most of Latin America, the vosotros or informal plural you is not used. Instead, ustedes is used to indicate the plural you, in both formal and informal settings. Additionally, in Mexico the vowels are typically pronounced with less strength while the consonants are fully pronounced, unlike the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. This linguistic feature of Mexican Spanish has been attributed the influence of Nahuatl and other indigenous languages. Another feature that distinguishes Mexican Spanish from other regions is the more frequent use of the diminutive, especially the ending -ito to denote politeness or affection.
Below, I have compiled a list of common expressions that are unique to, or characterize, the Spanish of Mexico. This list is by no means exhaustive. Rather, I tried to select some of the more common expressions so that the reader might become familiar with them. I will continue to update and expand this list as I have time. Many expressions have been omitted because they are too specific to a particular set of circumstances or occurrence. I have tried to select expressions that are frequently used in widely-ranging circumstances.
- Se me hace... It seems to me
While the expression me parece is used widely throughout the Spanish-speaking world to mean
it seems to me, in Mexico, it is equally common to hear the expression se me hace used in
this way. Se me hace que vamos a llegar tarde a la fiesta. It seems to me we are going to
arrive late to the party.
Se me hace tarde is a way of saying It is getting late.
- la onda This word is used in so many Mexican expressions that it deserves its own sublist.
- ¿Qué onda? meaning, What is up?
¿Qué onda? can be used as a greeting or to ask what is wrong with
a person. For example, one person asks another about a mutual friend, ¿Qué onda
con Claudia? meaning, What is up with Claudia?
- agarrar la onda meaning, to catch on to something
or to get with the program or to understand For example,
one friend might tell another, Agarra la onda, ella no quiere ir con
nosotros a la fiesta. Get with the program, she does not want to go to the party with us.
- Se me fue la onda meaning, I lost my train of thought.
- buena onda used as an adjective to describe people.
La novia de Miguel es buena onda. Miguel s girlfriend
is a good person.
- The expression Qué buena onda is also used to express a
favorable situation. Qué buena onda que conseguiste el dinero.
How awesome that you got the money.
- The word onda can also mean attitude or theme
¿Qué ondas son esas de ponerte a dieta
a cada rato?
- de plano is an expression used in Mexico to mean flat out, of course, or frankly
Esos pelados de plano no tienen madre. Those bums flat out have no shame.
- a poco This expression is used with questions when one is seeking an affirmation of something.
It is similar to the words maybe or perhaps in English. ¿A poco crees que te debo
algo? Perhaps you think I owe you something? ¡A poco! is also used as an exclamation
and expresses surprise or disbelief. A Juan lo reprobaron en el examen parcial. ¡A poco!
- ¡ándale! is a much used expression in Mexico and can mean several different things.
It is used as an exclamation to incite someone to do something and is similar to the English expression, Go ahead!
¡Ándale! Cómprate esa computadora nueva. Go ahead and buy that new computer!
¡Ándale! is also used to express assent or agreement. Te veo mañana a
las ocho. Ándale, pues.
- ¿Qué se le ofrece? is used to mean How can I help you? or literally, What
offers itself to you? This is the formal expression. ¿Qué se te ofrece? is the
informal way of saying the same thing. This is an especially useful expression in customer/client settings.
- de mala muerte is an expression used in Mexico to indicate that something is of poor
quality. La semana pasada tuvimos que hospedarnos en un hotel de mala muerte. Last week
we had to stay in a crummy hotel.
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