Language Guide
Miscellaneous
How to Sound like a Local in Mexico

How to Sound like a Local in Mexico

Quick Answer

Since Spanish is spoken in various countries around the world, the language as a whole is extremely diverse. Some varieties of Spanish slang words are more common in certain regions than others, like Mexican Spanish in the United States and, of course, Mexico! With its beautiful beaches and rich culture, Mexico is a popular tourist spot.

If you’re planning on visiting this amazing country, we have a list of words and phrases to help you fit in when you go!

Bellas Artes in Mexico City

¿Qué onda? = What’s up?

Locals love the phrase ¿Qué onda?  and you’ll hear it often when you’re in Mexico. It’s a simple and casual greeting along the lines of ¿Qué pasa?  or ¿Qué tal? 

¡Hola, chavo! ¿Qué onda?
Hey, dude! What’s up?
 

¡No manches! = No way!

Used to express disbelief, much like Get out of here! or Are you kidding me?, this phrase literally translates to Don’t stain. No manches  isn’t usually considered vulgar, but be aware that people who aren’t close friends or family might get offended by it. The more vulgar version, if you’re wondering, is No mames , which literally translates to Don’t suck.

¡No manches! ¡Gané $500 en la lotería!
No way! I just won $500 from the lottery!
 

¡Aguas! = Watch out!

Literally meaning Waters!, the phrase ¡Aguas!  is the best way of telling someone to look out or to be careful. Definitely use this if your friends are doing something risky and you want them to be careful. Conversely, if someone says this to you, make sure to dip, duck, dive, and dodge the possible danger ahead.

¡Aguas! Casi te atropella esa camioneta.
Watch out! That truck almost hit you.
 

Chela = Beer

Chela  is Mexican slang for beer, so use this if you're heading to a bar or want to invite some of your friends to your place for some beer and cheer. Pretty straightforward and useful, right?

¡Tengo ganas de salir esta noche! Vamos al bar a tomarnos unas chelas.
I feel like going out tonight! Let’s go to the bar and drink some beers.
 

Estar pedo = To be drunk

Estar pedo  is another phrase that is pretty straightforward, too, even if the literal translation is to be fart. While the phrase sounds a bit strange, it’s also useful for vacationing or clubbing in Mexico, especially if you’ve had several chelas.

Anoche estuve tan pedo que ni me acuerdo cómo volví a casa. ¡No voy a volver a beber jamás!
Last night I was so drunk that I don’t even remember how I got home. I’m never drinking again!
 

Estar crudo = To be hungover

Now that you’ve learned how to say estoy pedo  in Mexican Spanish, it’s time to learn how to talk about being hungover. The literal translation of this phrase is to be raw, a feeling you'll understand if you've ever had one too many tragos , or drinks.

Por favor, apaga las luces. Tomé demasiado anoche y hoy estoy crudo.
Please turn off the lights. I drank way too much last night and today I’m hungover.
 

Güey = Dude

If you’re around Mexicans, you’ll hear güey  over and over again, which is essentially the equivalent of dude. Carnal  is similar, but it’s usually reserved for people with whom you have a closer relationship, so it’s more like an affectionate bro.

Vamos a pasear, güey. Comí mucho y no quiero que se apodere de mí el mal del puerco.
Let’s go for a walk, dude. I ate a lot and I don't want to fall into a food coma.
 

¡Órale! = Come on!

There is no exact translation for this word, but phrases like Right on! and Way to go! come pretty close. Words like awesome and okay are slightly more of a stretch, but are also acceptable translations of ¡Órale! . You can even use this phrase to get someone to hurry up or move faster because it also means Come on!

¡Órale! ¡Compra los boletos que están en descuento y vámonos a México juntos!
Come on! Buy those tickets that are on sale and let’s go to Mexico together!
 

Chido / Padre = Cool / Awesome

Chido  and padre  are basically interchangeable, so feel free to use whichever one you think sounds more chido.

Nunca he visto unas ruinas tan chidas como las de Cobá. Qué padre, ¿no?
I’ve never seen ruins as awesome as the ones in Cobá. Cool, right?
 

Camión = Bus

In other Spanish-speaking countries, camión  usually means truck. In Mexico, however, camión is the preferred word for bus. You should plan on using this word a lot if you're going to get around Mexico en camión  (by bus), although you can also use the more formal term autobús .

La opción más económica para llegar a Acapulco desde el aeropuerto del DF sería tomar un camión.
The cheapest option to get from Acapulco to the airport in Mexico City would be to take a bus.
 

Ruins in Tulum

¡Órale, carnal!  Now you know enough Mexican slang to blend in when you travel to La Ciudad de México , Tulum , or Guadalajara ! Time to book your trip!

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