[#002] Colectivo

How would you say in castellano rioplatense “to catch the bus”? For example: “Hurry up! We have to catch the bus!”


I received this comment on the first blog entry, where we discussed how to say “take a taxi” in Rioplatense Spanish. Since the topic is related, I decided to answer straightaway.


If you are familiar with the word “autobús“, that’s fine. Rioplatófonos will certainly understand that term. But in español rioplatense we have a special word to refer to a bus that runs in urban areas. We call it “colectivo“, and its driver is referred to as “colectivero“. These are common, everyday words. But we also have an informal word to refer to these buses, and that word is “bondi“. If you want to have a laugh and learn more about bondis and public transportation in Buenos Aires, I suggest having a look at this funny website called De bondis. You will find lots of Rioplatense expressions there, too!

Now, if the bus you have in mind is a long-distance one, then we will not probably use the word “colectivo” or “bondi” in that case, but “ómnibus” or “micro” instead.

  • But how do you say “to catch a bus” then?

Well, as we’ve seen in the previous entry, in this case we wouldn’t use the verb “coger” at all. We can simply say “tomar el colectivo” or also “agarrar el colectivo“. The latter conveys this idea of catching the bus or having little time to take it with more precision.

In fact, the verb “agarrar” translates better as “to grab”, and if you look at its internal structure, you will spot the noun “garra” in it, which means “claw”. Rioplatófonos don’t really have claws, of course. But hey, we do not need to be Wolverine to use this verb, right? 😉 Anyway, it may be easier for some people to remember the word “agarrar” by making this connection, so that’s why I’m pointing it out.

So, in a nutshell…

    “Hurry up! We have to catch the bus!” = “¡Apurate! ¡Tenemos que agarrar el colectivo!”



    • I didn’t know the French word “bondé”, fèque merci bcp! 😉 But apparently it is not related to that. You can’t use the word “bondi” as if it meant “crowded” or “packed”. And it doesn’t have any other meaning in Rioplatense Spanish. Just “bus”.

      I don’t really know the origin of this word for sure, but I once read that “bondi” comes from the portuguese word “bondes”, which is the name for tramways in Rio de Janeiro. In turn, that seems to come from the English word “bonds”, the financial instruments, which is how those tramways were paid for by the Brazilian government. That’s what I’ve read, but who knows… 🙂

  1. Pingback: [#011] ¡Quedé para el orto! | Rioplatofonía

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