Everything You Need to Know About Costa Rican Spanish (Phrases Included!)


¡ Pura Vida! ( Pure Life) is more than a motto. It’s a welcoming, a bye-bye, an expression of happiness, of appreciation, of stating that whatever’s ok, or that whatever’s not okay, however oh well, ¡ Pura Vida! That’s life! To truly “get it,” you require to go to Costa Rica.

Experience the land of the “ Ticos” (a label for Costa Ricans) by ziplining through the rain forest canopy, seeing the production of coffee, bananas, pineapple, and sugarcane up close, or getting a peek at a volcano. Delight in the browse and sun on either the Atlantic or the Pacific coasts, and if you’re fortunate, experience the fantastic biodiversity nestled in Costa Rica’s jungles.

If experience and thrill-seeking isn’t your design, Costa Rica provides unwinding beaches, mountain retreats, and scrumptious dining establishments, providing fresh fruit, seafood, Caribbean meals, and the ever popular gallo pinto (beans and rice). Can’t choose? Attempt a casado, a combination plate with rice, beans, plantains, and a protein. Do not forget your cafetico ( little coffee)!

No matter what your design, as a visitor in Costa Rica, you’ll be invited with heat and hospitality in Costa Rican Spanish. The Spanish you’ve found out will serve you well here, however it will not be long prior to you’re taking in the unique noises and vocabulary of Spanish in Costa Rica and what makes it unique. Listed below, we’ll dive into manner ins which you can sound a lot more like the residents!

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Why is Spanish spoken in Costa Rica?

In 1502, lost and damaged by a storm, Christopher Colombus and his team touched land near Limón, calling the location the “Rich Coast,” and wanting to discover gold, extra wealth and resources. It was harder for the Spanish colonizers to acquire overall control of the location than it had actually remained in other parts of the “New World,” however after years of efforts, the Spanish conquerors declared the land and native neighborhoods left into the mountains, where much of their descendants stay today.

Nearly 3 a century of Spanish guideline affected individuals of Costa Rica in numerous methods, developing Spanish as the dominant language of commerce and public life. The colonial duration ended with Costa Rica not just winning their self-reliance when, however two times, and suffering a bloody Civil War. Today it is a politically steady democracy which has actually eliminated its army, and is understood for its serene concentrate on ecotourism and innovation, in addition to its financial investment in education and nationwide heritage.


How numerous individuals speak Spanish in Costa Rica?

There are over 4 million speakers of Spanish, the main and dominant language in Costa Rica. In general, English efficiency tends to be high, and in some locations lots of people’s mother tongue is English. This consists of seaside locations where there is considerable travel in between Costa Rica and Jamaica and an expansion of popular traveler locations.

In the mountains near Monteverde, there is a group came down from the Quakers from the United States. They are multilingual in Spanish and an older variation of English that utilizes “thou” rather of you.

There are likewise 6 living native languages spoken in Costa Rica, all of them from the Chibcha language household:

  • Maléku
  • Cabécar
  • Bribri
  • Guna
  • Guaymí
  • Buglere

Other language neighborhoods have actually formed through migration, education, and spiritual association. German, Italian, French, Chinese, Arabic, and Hebrew speakers are all represented amongst those who call Costa Rica house.

What does a Costa Rican Spanish accent seem like?

Most individuals can’t view their own accent, however nearly everybody’s speech is impacted by where they matured. English speakers from all over the world all appear to have significantly various pronunciation and tone, however can comprehend each other. Compare Louisiana to Liverpool, or Sydney to Scotland, and you can comprehend what we imply when we talk about the variety of local accents!

Though general, Spanish in Costa Rica sounds comparable to other Latin American Spanish dialects, there is a particular Costa Rican Spanish accent that differs within the nation. The closer you get to the Guanacaste area in the North Pacific, the more you will hear the impact of Nicaraguan Spanish.

In addition to area, generation, gender, and socio-economic aspects can affect somebody’s accent. The particular regional accent may be apparent for a native speaker, whereas for a student, the majority of the Central American Spanish dialects may sound the very same. If you’re a cautious listener, there might be a couple of tips that set Costa Rican Spanish speakers apart!

The softer expression of the Spanish utilized in the Valle Central ( Central Valley), consisting of by a lot of in the capital San José, may be the most quickly acknowledged, as it is the basic accent utilized in the media. Particular letters are softer, consisting of the last e or consonant of a word.

Other basic qualities of Costa Rican Spanish accent:

  • y and ll are noticable the very same method
  • z and c are the very same, like an s
  • you might discover weaker last unstressed vowels, that might seem like ” cochs” rather of ” coches”

Something numerous students bear in mind of is that the rr or last r can seem like an American English r rather of being rolled or trilled.

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What are the distinctions in between Costa Rican Spanish and Standard Latin American Spanish?

The Spanish dialects that you are currently acquainted with will siempre (” constantly”, and likewise “still” in Costa Rica!) serve you well in Costa Rica, as most of interaction will be equally comprehended. Understanding a couple of particularities of Spanish in Costa Rica will assist you get in touch with the residents, however if you occur to get puzzled, pura vida Do not fret, that’s life!


The verb regalar usually suggests “to offer something to somebody as a present,” however in Costa Rica, individuals will utilize it in location of dar (to offer). This does not imply that it will be totally free, so if you hear it in the context of a dining establishment or shop, presume you will still need to pay!

¿ Me regalas esa botella de agua? = Can you offer me that bottle of water?


Typically derecho suggests “straight ahead,” however in Costa Rica, they utilize directo rather. When you’re providing instructions to a taxi, for instance, make sure to state directo If you state derecho, they may not surprisingly believe you have actually gotten puzzled with derecha (to the right).

Siga directo y luego gire a la derecha. = Continue directly and later on turn right.


While siempre suggests “constantly,” it likewise has a 2nd significance of “still, continuing to,” so you might require to request for explanation.

¿ Siempre llueve? = Does it constantly rain? or Is it still drizzling?

Subject pronouns

If you’re taking a trip to Costa Rica, you can streamline whatever you found out about vs usted for the particular “you.” Most of individuals in Costa Rica will prefer usted, even in casual circumstances in between pals, so you can stay with the usted types in all cases. It is possible to hear due to the impact of media from other Spanish-speaking locations, however lots of people reserve this specifically for their closest relationships, if at all. Some even utilize usted with household animals.

Those who do not utilize usted specifically will likely utilize vos and their matching verb types for their closest relationships. This is the casual particular “you” utilized in other parts of Latin America rather of, or in some cases interchangeably with tú.

It’s intriguing that much marketing on signboards and window indications will utilize the


kind of the verb. When a phone business presumes it’s on individual terms with the world), (It can be amusing. Capitalize and discover the composed conjugations, given that they’re normally excluded of standard book conjugation charts. Thankfully the types are basic and must not impact your understanding. (You can even ditch a couple of pesky stem-change verbs!) Here are a couple of fundamentals in today tense: English
Vos kind Usted kind Tú kind you are
vos sos usted es tú eres you purchase
vos comprás usted compra tú compras you desire
vos querés usted quiere tú quieres you do
vos hacés usted hace tú haces you sleep
vos dormís usted duerme tú duermes you live

vos vivís usted vive

tú vives Other colloquial and slang expressions ( tiquismos)

You’ll understand you’ve gotten here in Costa Rica when you begin hearing the term mae Its significance might vary from a filler word, such as “like,” and even a gender-neutral term to attend to a pal that may be equated as “guy,” “mate,” “woman,” or “brother.” It isn’t thought about lovely if utilized to point or determine somebody out. It’s finest to listen to how the residents utilize it with love! Another casual Costa Rican slang word to represent the fun-loving beach ambiance is the popular tuanis

(great, cool, sweet). A casual, street slang word for “great,” it appears to have actually been made popular through browse culture. The word might have come from with an old military code for buenos ( excellent). Another really enjoyable one is “L.J.”( pronounced by defining the letters ele, jota) The story behind this slang expression for “We’re off! We’re outta here!” is that the expression nos fuimos ( we left!) developed into a mispronounced variation, los juimos, and after that was additional abbreviated to simply the very first letters. If you’re on trip and you have a number of stops to make, inform your group,

¡ L.J.! When it’s time to leave, ! Diminutives As in numerous Caribbean Spanish dialects, Costa Rican Spanish has lots of suffixes like – ito, – ita,– ico, – ica that serve to make words smaller sized, cuter, more caring, or alter the significance in some method. You’re most likely acquainted with words such as bonito (adorable, excellent looking), and even labels such as Anita


  • Ana. When it concerns Costa Rica, using diminutives was so notable regarding offer the residents of the nation the label “
  • Ticos.” You can see this improvement in words such as:
  • poco ( little)
  • poquito (really little)
  • poquitico (really bit in Costa Rica!)
  • un café (coffee)



(a little coffee, possibly that you’re delighted to consume)

cafetico (your coffee in Costa Rica!)
This linguistic propensity not just alters the subtleties of specific words, however likewise offers the Spanish in Costa Rica a design that shows a particular inflammation and heat towards life. What expressions or words should I understand if I’m taking a trip to Costa Rica?
Costa Rican Spanish Meaning
¡ Con mucho gusto! You’re welcome
¡ Qué chiva! How remarkable! fantastic! cool!
¿ Al chile? Really? Seriously?
¿ Cómo amaneció? How did you sleep? (actually: how did the sun increase?)
diay a filler word; it can alter suggesting depending upon the tone to imply “um,” “hi,” and, “omg”
dicha/ por dicha luckily, thankfully
el brete work/ one’s task
jamar to consume
la harina slang for cash (actually: flour)
rulear to sleep
tranquilo/ tranquila/ suave cool down, it’s okay
un chunche a random thing you forgot the name of
un rojo 1000 colones (describes the color of the expense)
un zaguate a roaming canine, street canine
una birra a beer

una soda

a little coffee shop or sandwich shop; an economical location to consume una teja 100 colones Explore Spanish in every area with Rosetta Stone

At this point you’re certainly all set to fly to “Chepe” ( a slang label for San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica) and immerse yourself in

the heat of an inviting culture with a favorable mindset about life. Whether you’re wishing for experience or relaxation, a taste of the basic life of Costa Rica hits the spot. You may likewise experience Costa Rican Spanish through social networks, online neighborhoods, or household connections! Dynamic Immersion With the list above, pasito a pasito (action by action), you can feel comfy reducing into Costa Rican Spanish with the words that make it so distinct– and enjoyable to speak!

To take your Spanish understanding an action even more, Rosetta Stone can assist you profit from early successes to enhance your self-confidence quickly. Our

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¡ Pura Vida! (*) motion and begin today! (*) Written by Jamie Edwards(*) Jamie is a student and instructor of French and spanish. When she’s not discovering brand-new words, you’ll discover her on the soccer sidelines, ski slopes, and track and field bleachers taking pleasure in the 4 seasons of Western New York.(*)


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