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Mexican Spanish

The Essential Guide to Speaking Spanish Like a True Mexican

Mexican Spanish slang

The Essential Guide to Speaking Mexican Spanish Like a True Mexican

Looking to have a huge head start when you travel to Mexico?

Want to impress the locals with your Mexican Spanish?

Whether you want to better understand what’s going on around you or show off your language skills, one thing is true:

You’ve gotta learn the slang.

But let me take a wild guess: Your  Spanish teacher never taught you words like “chida” or “chelas” in class, right?

Even if you speak Spanish at an intermediate level or above, if you’ve never spent any time in Mexico then you’ve probably never seen those Mexican words before.

In fact, even if you’ve got a handle on the way Argentinians, Chileans or Spaniards speak, the peculiarities of Mexican Spanish slang can leave you feeling in the dark.

But that’s why we’re going to give you a brief introduction to the country’s unique version of Spanish—and by the time we’re done, you’ll be able to understand a full conversation between two Mexicans.

Before we jump right into the slang, let’s take a look at some of the general characteristics of Mexican Spanish.

Some Basic Information on Mexican Spanish

Here’s the good news—if you began learning Spanish in school somewhere in the United States, Mexican Spanish is most likely the style you’re already familiar with. But if you’re from another part of the world or have just been studying independently, here’s what you need to know:

  • In Mexican Spanish, the pronoun tú is used for the second-person familiar form. This means that Mexicans use as the singular “you” in informal settings, such as with friends or family. This is opposed to the pronoun vos that is used in parts of Central and South America.
  • As in the rest of Latin America, the pronoun vosotros in not used in Mexican Spanish. If you’ve been learning the variety of Spanish spoken in Spain, you’ve come to know vosotros as the familiar way to say “you” when referring to a group of people. In Mexican Spanish, this form is never used. Mexicans use ustedes even in informal settings.
  • Mexican Spanish seems to feature more loanwords from English than other national dialects. In Mexico, what you do in your spare time isn’t a pasatiempo but rather a hobby (pronounced with the English “h” sound!). A reality television show is simply a reality. If you’re trying out a new style, you might be asked about your nuevo look… and the list goes on. This phenomenon is due in large part to Mexico’s proximity to the United States and the historic movement of citizens between the two countries.

Got it? Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter. Let’s take a look at a few prominent themes running throughout Mexican Spanish slang:

Mexican Spanish Slang About… My Parents?

Mexican Spanish slang

Padre (father) and madre (mother) are two popular words used in a variety of Mexican Spanish slang phrases. In what seems to be a direct connection to the sexism that has historically pervaded Mexican culture, we can generally understand padre to be a positive word and madre to be a negative one.

Confused? Let’s look at some examples:

¡Qué padre!

This phrase’s literal translation, “How father!,” doesn’t make much sense at all—which will, of course, become a running theme in an article on slang! That said, it can be understood to mean “Cool!” or “Awesome!” and is without a doubt one of the most commonly used phrases punctuating day-to-day Mexican Spanish.

Me vale madre

Translated literally as, “It’s worth a mother to me,” this phrase is used to say “I don’t care” or “It doesn’t matter to me at all.” It’s not quite a curse, but it can be considered offensive in more formal situations.

Poca madre

Literally translated as “little mother,” this is sort of an inversion on the “mother” theme. Because it’s only a little bit mother, this phrase is used to describe something really cool. Once again, this phrase can be considered offensive and is mostly used among groups of young men.

Though every Mexican has a different take on things, the gender-loaded nature of these slang phrases is beginning to come under a bit of scrutiny in modern Mexico.

The use of padre is generally fine, but many women (and some men) do take offense at the negative use of the word madre. It’s good to understand how the word is used, but it’s probably best to avoid using it yourself.

Some Mexican Slang for Food and Drink

Mexican Spanish slang

Mexican Spanish slang uses several words normally related to food and drink to mean other things entirely.


Literally a “strawberry,” a fresa is not something you want to be. Somewhat similar to the word “preppy” in the United States but even more negative in its connotations, a fresa is a young person from a wealthy family who is self-centered, superficial and materialistic.


This phrase is used throughout Mexico to mean “Be careful!” or “Look out!” Literally meaning “waters,” it’s possible that this usage evolved from housewives throwing buckets of water to clean the sidewalks in front of their homes.

¡A huevo!

Huevos (eggs), it must be said, make up an entire family of Mexican Spanish slang. They’re often used to denote a specific part of the male anatomy—you can probably guess which—and they’re also used in a wide variety of slang phrases. ¡A huevo! is perhaps the most popular one, and it’s basically a vulgar way to show excitement or approval. Think “F yeah!” without the self-censorship.

Are you already loving all this casual, modern Spanish? Then I’m going to stop you right here and have you check out

Since these videos are made for modern native Spanish speakers, the language used is exactly what you’d hear in the streets of Mexico City.

For example, you could use SpanishWithSkype videos to learn Spanish with tips for safe cycling in Mexico City, “Mexico’s Next Top Model” and Belinda, Mexico’s reigning princess of pop.

Since you’re just acclimating your ear to Mexican Spanish, SpanishWithSkype is there to help you out with downloadable transcripts, active learning tools and interactive captions in English and Spanish.

Multimedia flashcards and vocabulary lists will be made from the new vocabulary and grammar you encounter while watching your chosen videos, so you can really study and reinforce everything you’ve been learning.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with SpanishWithSkype Learn Mode.

The best part is that SpanishWithSkype keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.


Other Classic Mexican Spanish Slang Phrases

These are the slang phrases that don’t really fall into any specific “category,” but are used popularly nonetheless.

¡No manches!/¡No mames!

These two phrases are essentially one in the same, hence why we’ve grouped them together. Literally meaning “Don’t stain!” and “Don’t suck!,” respectively, they’re used typically in conversation to express a sentiment of “No way!” or in less friendly situations, “Don’t mess with me.”

No manches is totally benign, but no mames is considered vulgar and can potentially be offensive.


This word is simply a fun way to say “cool” in Mexican Spanish. Despite its status as slang, it’s not vulgar or offensive in the least—so have fun with it! It can be used as both a standalone exclamation (¡Qué chido!) or as an adjective (un carro chido).


We’ve also seen this one written as wey and even buey in older sources, but it’s generally accepted that güey is the way to go. No matter how you write it, it’s basically pronounced like the English word “way” and it’s one of the most quintessential Mexican slang words.

Originally used to mean “a stupid person,” the word eventually morphed into a term of endearment similar to the English “dude.” It’s also one of those strange words that can be used to insult a friend in an endearing manner if you’ve seen them do something silly or stupid.

¿A poco?

There’s no way to translate this one literally, it just comes back as nonsense. Mexicans, however, use it to say “Really?” when they’re feeling incredulous.


An exclamation basically meaning “Right on!” or in some situations a message of approval like “Let’s do it,” órale is another Mexican slang word that is considered unoffensive, and is appropriate for almost any social situation. It can be said quickly and excitedly or offered up with a long, drawn-out “o” sound.


Simple enough, chela is Mexican Spanish slang word for “beer.” There’s not much more to be said about this one…


Perhaps not slang technically, this word is uttered daily all across Mexico and we couldn’t leave it off the list! It’s literally the formal imperative form of the verb mandar (to command), perhaps ironically commanding someone to command you.

However, it’s used in Mexico in place of ¿Qué? or ¿Cómo? to respond when someone says your name. We’ve heard it explained that this response is a legacy of the especially brutal Spanish colonial era in Mexico, when people were forced to act with extreme deference to their superiors.

So what do you know… that’s the end of the list! Remember how I said you’d be able to understand a full conversation after reading this post? Let’s take a look at one:

Oye, ¡José! (Hey José!)

¿Mande? (Yeah?)

¿Quieres ir a ver esa nueva película esta noche? Me dijeron que es bien chida. (Do you want to go see that new movie tonight? I heard it’s really cool.)

¿A poco, güey? No manches… Escuché que es muy mala. (Really, dude? No way… I heard it’s terrible.)

Bueno pues… ¿vamos pa’ unas chelas? (Alright then… How about we go out for some beers?)

¡Órale! Mejor eso. Nos vemos entonces. (Right on! That’s more like it. See you then.)

It makes a lot more sense now than it would have at the start, doesn’t it?

Now that you’re getting pretty well acquainted with Mexican Spanish, we also recommend you try out Gritty Spanish for realistic and fun audio learning. This is a program that’s not afraid to be bold, using vulgarity, curses and slang in their educational dialogues. And they often include the voices of native Spanish speakers from Mexico, who use their Mexican accents and slang to the max.

Assuming you’re all grown up and not opposed to offensive language, take it for a spin—they have free materials on their site which you can sample.

Then get out there and start speaking some real Mexican Spanish!

If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.

Experience Spanish immersion online!



Veronica is a social Anthropologist and has been a Spanish teacher for more than 5 years. She is studying for a master degree.  In addition, she is also a university teacher. She loves teaching Spanish to all levels of students. She lives in Palenque (México) and has lived in San Cristobal. She speaks English and she loves Mexican culture. Learn Spanish online with her!



Iris is half Mexican half Italian. She studied cultural and social anthropology in Austria. She likes travelling and loves meeting new people and new cultures. Now she is living in San Cristobal de las Casas (México). She speaks fluently Retoroman, Italian, German and Spanish. If you want to learn how to brag in German,  if you want to practice romantic Italian, or if you want to take online Spanish classes send us an email.

Times Available: Mon – Fri 10:00 am – 21:00 pm   Sat11 am – 2 pm



Alicia is from Mexico City and studied interpretation of languages. She speaks Spanish, English, French and a little Japanese. She started teaching languages at a very early age. Currently, she teaches English to Japanese kids at a prestigious school from the south of Mexico City.  She likes teaching children very much. She will help you learn Spanish online in a pretty natural way, using very common idioms and expressions that are used very often in the Spanish lexis. She is kind, patient and likes playing games while teaching, because it is easier and more fun for kids while learning a foreign language.

Times Available: Mon – Thu 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm   Sat 11 am – 2 pm



Dennis is originally from Chiapas, México. She’s a Biologist.  She loves meeting new people of different nationalities.  Her hobbies are diving and dancing salsa. She has also traveled around Mexico, and know about Mexican culture. She speaks English well and would love to be your online Spanish Teacher!

Times Available: Mon – Fri 9:00 am – 2:00 pm    4 pm – 8 pm


Monica Beatriz

Monica is from Argentina and she speaks Spanish, English and German.  She has worked as a Spanish teacher and a German teacher in many different levels of education.  She has taught for many years and also has experience as a translator.  She also has experience preparing students to take the DELE Spanish exam. If you need help with basic to advanced Spanish Monica woulf love to help you!  Contact us today to try a free Spanish online lesson.



Fernando was born in Torreon, Coahuila. He is speaks Spanish, English and some French. He enjoys teaching because he sees it as a chance to have a positive effect on someone’s life. He is very patient and has a unique sense of humor. As a Spanish Teacher, he enjoys personalizing his lessons for the benefit of his students. He has more than 5 years of experience teaching languages…



Tere is a Spanish Teacher from Mexico City and she is also a translator from English to Spanish but also knows some Italian and French.  She loves to share her culture and language and, she would be happy to help you learn. She is looking forward to having you as a beginner or intermediate learner in an online class!

Times Available: Mon-Fri 9am-3pm and 5-7pm,  Sat 4pm-7pm



I love languages, and the possibility of communication in the different countries I visit.  I have lived in England and in Ireland.  I´m an English and Spanish teacher in my country, Spain, so I´m a native Spanish speaker, and I speak little French. I like teaching in a funny and entertaining way. I have worked as a teacher for 4 years.



Karina is a graduate from the University in San Cristobal with a degree in Language.  She speaks Spanish and English and teaches both languages.  She currently lives in San Cristobal de Las Casas.  Her experiences in both languages makes her a natural for those who need explanations of Spanish grammar in English.  Book a Skype class with Karina today and learn Spanish online!

Times Available: Mon-Fri   10:00 am to 12:00 am and 6:00 pm to 7 pm
10:00 am to 12:00 am 5:00 pm to 7 pm