It is no secret that the Chilean accent is one of the hardest accents to understand in the Spanish-speaking world. I was warned many times before coming here that it would probably take a month for me to just start to understand Chileans when they speak. Chileans typically speak very quickly, change/drop/add sounds to their words, and use a lot of words that aren’t taught in traditional Spanish classes (Chilenismos). This makes it difficult to understand, but the Chileans I’ve spoken with have been great about slowing down a bit so I understand everything. Sometimes I need a minute to process what I’m hearing or I need to focus completely on the person that is speaking, but it didn’t take me long to adjust to understanding Chilean Spanish. So have no fear!
Here are a few examples of how grammar changes in informal conversation: When Chileans speak informally, they often drop the “s” sound at the end of a word. For example, “más o menos” becomes “ma o meno.” In most verb conjugations that end with “s,” the “s” is dropped. In addition, they’ll sometimes change verb endings in the “tú” form to a different vowel sound (Cómo estás? becomes Cómo estai?). My favorite part of Chilean grammar, however, is adding the diminutive “-ito/a” to everything. Café becomes cafecito, pan becomes pancito, poco becomes poquito, and the list goes on and on and on. Sometimes when my host mom is speaking, I have to mentally take off all of the “-ito’s” from her words to decipher what she’s saying.
Here’s a short list of some common Chilenismos:
¡(Tip: Before I left for Chile, I spent some time on YouTube watching videos of native Chilean speakers to start getting accustomed to Chilean Spanish. It helped a lot and I definitely felt more prepared and less nervous when I first arrived in Chile.)!