I was watching some Argentinian telenovelas to get used to Spanish language and noticed that there's a different pattern regarding the pronunciation of the imperative command than what Michel Thomas has taught me.

Michel Thomas has taught me that when you are in the preeeesent tense you stress the syllable before last and that the same goes for imperative.

For example, "I take" is "tomo" and "take!" is "toma" (informal) and what I hear in Argentinian telenovelas is "tomá". They also often say "escucháme" instead of "escúchame" or "te quedás", or "llamáme".

Is pronunciation somewhat different from country to country or am I just mishearing things?

  • 3
    Note that escuchá + me = escuchame (no accent*) Mar 29, 2017 at 10:00
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    I was under the impression that the accent must be kept. I'm just learning this is so, but only since 1999.
    – pablodf76
    Mar 29, 2017 at 13:32
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    It is not the pronunciation, but the complete system of verbal endings. That is, Argentines have a slightly different grammar.
    – Rodrigo
    Mar 29, 2017 at 13:41
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    @Rodrigo: the voseo is not limited to Argentina. Honduras, Guatemala, Uruguay and Chile (with a very peculiar variation) are among the countries that use voseo.
    – Wences
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:26
  • Nobody has yet explained why. I don't know why. (Being Argie myself, I feel tempted to reply (in typical Argie fashion) that it is because we are better. ;) But I'm not sure that everyone will agree. Also there are some serious pronunciation differences beyond the voseo: We pronounce "yo como pollo" as "sho como posho"... and there are a couple more...
    – Wences
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:56

4 Answers 4


No, your ears are perfectly fine. In fact, it is notable that you have noticed the difference between the two different forms of the imperative tense.

There are indeed some differences between the verbs forms among countries. As an example, you can check the conjugation for imperative tense of the verb tomar in the Diccionario de la Lengua Española (follow the link and click the blue button labelled "Conjugar"):

tú / vos            toma / tomá
usted               tome
vosotros, vosotras  tomad
ustedes             tomen

Notice the two different forms in the second person singular? They are "toma tú" and "tomá vos". You will find those two forms also in the present tense ("tú tomas", and "vos tomás"). In some countries the "tú" form is used, while in others the "vos" form is used. But both forms really mean the same, and are understood in every Spanish-speaking country. At most, if you use the "vos" form in, say, Spain, we will think that you (or your teacher) are from Argentina.

For more information, I invite you to learn more about voseo. Check the tag and you will find some more questions regarding this.

  • 1
    gracias por la explicación. So what you are saying is that there's really no big difference between "toma" and "tomá", both would be perfectly understood in every spanish speaking country right?
    – Giancarlo
    Mar 29, 2017 at 8:55
  • @Giancarlo yes, indeed. I have added that to my answer.
    – Charlie
    Mar 29, 2017 at 9:04
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    and one other thing that I noticed is that they sometimes don't pronounce the letter "S" like I hear them say "e verdad" instead of "es verdad".
    – Giancarlo
    Mar 29, 2017 at 18:33
  • @Giancarlo: skipping the "S" is normally frowned upon in Argentina, and regarded as a sign of deficient upbring or very low cultural level. But what you will hear almost every Argentinian do is use a soft "J" sound (like the "H" in the word "he" when not stressed) as an allophone (a form of pronouncing) the "S" when followed by a plosive consonant. Most Argentinians are unaware of this and will deny it until dared to say "mosca" or some other word where this happens. The difference between pronouncing that "H" or skipping the "S" altogether is very significant socially.
    – Wences
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:31
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    I (Argentinian) once had a case, talking with a Mexican, when everything was on an informal basis while both forms coincided: ¿Cómo estás (tú o vos)? until the first verb that differs. I said ¿Y vos qué pensás? (not ¿Y tú qué piensas?). He obviously understood the question, as @CarlosAlejo has so rightly said, but for the next 5 min he called me "usted"!!! (i.e.: he thought that my using "vos" was very formal, like it used to be 500 years ago!). Other than such little misunderstandings of the level of formality, the meaning is always clear among natives (however puzzled foreigners may be).
    – Wences
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:52

Though I agree with the answer given by Carlos Alejo, in general I'd say you should stick to one form, unless you're confident with the language, and especially avoid mixing pronouns from one with verb forms from the other. That is, you should use vos tomás or tú tomas, etc.: if the pronoun is vos the verb will have the accent on the last syllable; if it's , the "regular" accent. Some people in Uruguay will say tú tomás but that's not usual elsewhere. In any case, of course, nobody will bat an eyelid at that.

The only real problem to watch out for is the stem-alternating verbs such as querer and mover, because when you conjugate those it's not only the accent that moves, but also the vowel in the verb root. For example, in Spain you might hear:

¿Me quieres? ¡Quiéreme mucho!
¡Muévete de ahí! ¿Por qué no te mueves?

but in Argentina this will be

¿Me querés? ¡Quereme mucho!
¡Movete de ahí! ¿Por qué no te movés?

So voseo actually makes it easier for you when dealing with the stem-changing verbs, but then it's only in those forms when the accent is shifted away from the root.

  • 2
    And just FYI, in Medellín Colombia where I'm from it is exactly the same. The intonation would be quite different but everything said in this answer will apply fully.
    – DGaleano
    Mar 29, 2017 at 14:24
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    I agree with most of this but notice that even in parts of Argentina, that is 100% voseante, there is some mixing of tú and vos. You will see it in the subjunctive. We say "quiero que corras", unless we are very angry; then we might say "quiero que corrás". This is the "proper" form for "vos", and in other regions that use vos (eg: Santa Fe, Arg) it is more common. So I would say that the advise is good: pick one form and do that one consistently, but I would say: pick one geographically determined form, and do that one consistently (with all and its inconsistencies). :-)
    – Wences
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:42
  • Note that when true voseo forms are used in the subjunctive they are a bit trickier. Take dormir: dormís is easier than duermes, but durmás perhaps a bit trickier than duermas. But the present subjunctive in Argentina alternates a lot between voseante and tuteante forms. Mar 30, 2017 at 12:35

Pronunciation is indeed different, since in Argentina the spoken dialects (mostly Rioplatense Spanish) are different to the ones used in Spain (mostly Castilian Spanish). This particular feature you refer to is a part of the so called voseo:

Voseo (Spanish pronunciation: [boˈse.o]) is the use of vos as a second person singular pronoun, including its conjugational verb forms in many dialects of Spanish. In dialects that have it, it is used either instead of tú, or alongside it. Source

(Specifically, check out the Conjugation under the Usage section)

Succintly, for Rioplatense Spanish:

Although apparently there is just a stress shift (from amas to amás), the origin of such a stress is the loss of the diphthong of the ancient vos inflection from vos amáis to vos amás.

Please note that despite many dialects are spoken in Argentina (like Andean Spanish, or Cuyo Spanish), most (if not all) Argentinian telenovelas are recorded in Rioplatense Spanish.


Is pronunciation somewhat different from country to country or am I just mishearing things?

Of course, it is even different within a country. Compare e.g. Steven Gerrard, Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker (OK, not Spanish, but I hope you understand).

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