Today, I want to tell you something important about the Spanish of of Colombia in case you are planning on taking a trip to Colombia or if you have Colombian “amigos.”
Colombia has a reputation for being one of the best places to learn Spanish.
But if you are planning to travel to Colombia there is something you should be aware of.
There is a style of speaking Spanish in Colombia that is VERY common — but also VERY incorrect Spanish.
I can give you examples easier than I can explain:
did you speak?
INCORRECT: Comistes esta noche?
CORRECT: Comiste esta noche?
did you eat tonight?
INCORRECT: Se lo dijistes?
CORRECT: Se lo dijiste?
Did you tell it to him?
INCORRECT: Lo aprendistes?
CORRECT: Lo aprendiste?
Did you learn it?
INCORRECT: La conocistes?
CORRECT: La conociste?
Did you meet her?
You probably recognize the ‘incorrect’ pattern of adding “s” to the ending of the “tú” form of verbs in the preterit tense.
The first time that I heard someone in Medellín speak this way I thought they were speaking a language other than Spanish — either that or it was time for me to get my hearing checked.
After hearing my “empleada” (maid) and many taxi drivers speak that way and a few others here in Medellin, I decided it was time to ask one of my Spanish instructor friends here in Medellín “what’s up with that?”
So I asked a Paisa friend who teaches Spanish at a major “universidad” here in Medellín, is that some type of dialect of Spanish where people add “s” to the ending of “tú” form of verbs in the preterit tense.
She assured me that isn’t a special dialect of Spanish. She said that the only people who speak that way are uneducated Colombians.
According to her, no educated Colombian would ever speak that way.
She also explains that this form of speech derives from the mistaken belief that since the “tú” form of verbs in the present tense end with the letter “s” then it is therefore necessary to end the “tú” form of verbs in the preterit tense the same way.
Whether or not it is true that this is just a common way of speaking for the uneducated of Colombian, I really don’t know.
But I do know that it is not uncommon to hear people in Medellín and other parts of Colombia add “s” to the ending of “tú” form of verbs in the preterit tense.
I am not telling you about this because I recommend that when in Colombia you do as the Colombians and end the “tú” form of verbs in the preterit tense with an “s” sound.
I am telling you this so that if you are ever in Colombia and you hear someone speak this way you will not be thrown off by the person’s Spanish, and you will understand the person.
That’s it for today . . . I got to run. I’m late for a pizza party and “Intercambio de Idiomas” (Language Exchange) that I go to almost every Friday evening here in Medellin — with English-speakers helping Spanish-speakers with English and Spanish speakers helping English-speakers with Spanish.
¡Estoy atrasado! – I’m late!
¡Tengo prisa! – I am in a rush!
Or as they say here in Medellín,
Tengo afán (I’m in a rush).