This article on how to learn Colombian Spanish or how to speak Colombian Spanish is actually an entry from my personal journal that I made in December of 2005, right after my first trip to Cali, Colombia and before moving to Barranquilla, Colombia and then to Medellin , Colombia where I currently live. Following my trip, I received so many emails from readers of my Spanish language learning newsletter asking me what I did learn about Latin American Spanish or culture during my trip to Colombia.
Well, while I was in Cali, Colombia there was one word that I heard constantly. Also consistently saying "tranquilo" there was another word that the Caleños kept constantly saying over and over again. That word is "listo."
Before my trip to Cali, the only definition that I knew for the word "listo" was "ready." The first time that I heard "listo" in Cali was the same night that I had arrived.
The "dueño" of the bread and breakfast where I was staying took me to a "discoteca" (night club). A beautiful "señorita" that I met in the discoteca said saying to me "listo." She must have said "listo" to me a dozen times in as many minutes.
I somehow resisted the temptation of asking her "listo, P Para qué?" ("ready, for what?")
When I got back to New York I asked one of our Learning Spanish Like Crazy instructors, Liliana, who is from Bogota, Colombia, what does "listo" mean in Colombian Spanish?
She told me that it is the equivalent of saying "OK" Liliana says people say "listo" in Colombia about as often as people in the US say "OK" even though the word "OK" is spoken and understood in Latin American Spanish, if you want to sound like a Colombian when traveling to Cali, Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla, or Cartagena, then I'll advise you to say "listo" instead of "OK"