Spanish is Colombia's official language. Colombians speak a traditional form of Castilian Spanish. Colombian academics work to keep the language as traditional as possible but colombianismos or local terminology and phrases are common. Although Spanish is the language of commerce and education, some Europeans in the larger cities also speak English. English is part of the school curriculum, but many Colombians frown on its use and feel that the Spanish language and culture should be preserved and promoted.

Colombian Spanish differs slightly in pronunciation from the Spanish spoken in Spain. In Colombian Spanish "ll" is pronounced as a "y". In Spain it is pronounced "ly". As in French, nouns in Spanish are masculine or feminine and there are both formal and casual ways to address people. Spanish pronunciation, however, is straightforward, since each letter is always pronounced the same way.

Greetings in Colombia have evolved into an elaborate ritual. The short Spanish hola or hello has been replaced by a variety of expressions and all of them mean something between "Hello" and "How do you do?" Some of these include "Cómo está?", "Cómo ha estado?", "Cómo le va?", and "Qué me cuenta?" These greetings reflect regional variations.

Some indigenous tribes maintain the use of their own language. There are 200 indigenous languages, most of which belong to the Arawak, Carib, Chibcha and Tupi-Guarani language groups. The large Guajiro community speaks an Arawakian language. Arawakian words that have entered the English language include canoe, tobacco and hammock.

English Spanish
No No
Please Por favor
Thank you Gracias
Good morning Buenos días
Good evening Buenas noches
Goodbye Adiós
Where is...? Dónde est /Queda...?
When? Cuándo?
Good Bueno/Buena
Bad Malo/Mala

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One of the most commonly used words in Colombia is Mañana (tomorrow). It is best understood as "in the indefinite future." This reflects many Colombians' relaxed sense of time and punctuality.