Spanish is spoken almost everywhere in Nicaragua, except for some areas on the country’s Atlantic Coast (actually the Caribbean coast), which was colonized by the British. Creole English is spoken there, as well as some indigenous languages that are in danger of extinction.

In Nicaraguan Spanish, the letter “s” is silent at the ends of many words. For example, if you ask someone how well she thinks you speak Spanish, she might answer “mas o menos,” (“more or less”), but it will actually be pronounced “ma’ o meno’.”

In addition to the traditional uses of tu and usted, a third form of the second person singular, vos, is used very frequently in Nicaragua. Although this often scares beginning Spanish speakers, the vos form is actually easier to conjugate than the tu and usted forms and has fewer irregular conjugations. For example, the verb decir (“to say”) is conjugated “vos decís,” (rather than dice or dices for the usted and tu forms, respectively).

Common phrases

Perdido como un perro en procesión– Literally, “lost like a dog in a parade.” Here is an example of this expression you will NOT hear! “El grupo SST esta perdido como un perro en procesión.” Barriga llena, corazón contento– Or, “stomach full, heart content.” A Nicaraguan nacatamale or two will help you understand this phrase.

A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando– Translated this means, “Begging from God and hitting with a mallet.” This is used to ask whether someone who believes in God is really practicing what they preach.