February 21, 2019

Are there many differences between Spanish from Latin America and Spanish from Spain?

Did you know that more than 400 million people around the world speak Spanish as their first language? And 300 million of them come from Latin America?

If you have ever heard a person from Spain speak in Spanish and then  immediately after you hear a person from any country in Latin America say exactly the same phrase, then you will soon realize how different they sound.

Even though it is the same language, there are some distinct differences between the Spanish from Spain and the Spanish from Latin America. In fact, it is like saying that there are differences between the English in England or in North America.

Of course, people from Latin America will understand Spanish people and also vice-versa. But overall, there are plenty of differences in terms of grammar, pronunciation and dialects that are worth having a look.

So, if you have decided to learn Spanish from either Spain or Latin America you shouldn’t be worried about understanding other Spanish as you will be able to recognize both as they are mutually intelligible.

Are all Spanish the same?


There is, however, one thing you must keep in mind, there are even more differences in the Spanish found in Latin America. This is because Latin America is formed by more than 10 Spanish-speaking countries, so there is not a Latin American Spanish that applies to all the region.

Overall Spanish has a common grammar and vocabulary that is widely used. However, Spanish also presents several variations, especially within the same continent.

In fact, there are plenty of other languages that are spoken in this geographical area (such as indigenous or native languages), and each country has their own slang, accents and even rules for grammar.

Castilian Vs. Spanish:

One of the first differences one could encounter is the fact that the Spanish language is called Castilian Spanish. Since Latin America was colonized, Spanish became the de facto language for most - if not all - Latin American’ countries. Over time, this form of Castilian Spanish evolved to what is now known as Latin American Spanish.

The two Spanish are almost the same, of course they have some variations especially since the language did evolve in Spain but it didn’t evolve as much in Latin America (this is very common in former colonies, especially when a new language has been introduced, implemented and ordered to be used as a form of continuous colonization).

So, what are the differences between Spanish from Latin America and Spanish from Spain? Continue reading to find out:

1. The use of pronouns, either vosotrosor ustedes:

In Latin American Spanish the word vosotros (you, plural and informal) is not used like in Spain. In fact, Latin Americans use a completely different word, ustedes.

So if you are learning Spanish from Spain then you must remember another verb ending for the word vosotros.

For example, in Spain you would say: ‘’¿Vosotros queréis salir?’’ (Would you like to go out?).

In Latin American, you would say: ‘’¿Ustedes quieren salir?’’ (Would you like to go out?).

Both sentences ask the same thing, but if you look at them closely you will see the Vosotros/Ustedes and a different ending for the verb Querer (To Want).

Note: To make things more interesting, in places like Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and in some areas of Colombia, Venezuela and Central America, you will notice they use the word vos to talk to  (or to you, singular) in an informal matter.

For example, ‘’Vos sabes lo que haces’’ or ‘’You know what you are doing’’.

2. Different words, same things:

If you decide to learn Spanish (either from Spain or Latin America) you will soon notice how the majority of words in that specific language do not 

change, in fact, they are universal in all geographical areas where this language is spoken.

There are, however, some specific differences in the meanings of words that go hand in hand with the culture and history of places.

For example,

  • A pen is a bolígrafoin Spain, but a lapicera in Argentina.
  • A car is a cochein Spain and auto/automóvil or carro in Latin America.
  • A computer is a ordenadorin Spain and computadora in Latin America.
  • An apartment is a pisoin Spain and departamento o apartamento in Latin America.

3. Accents are very different:

One of the biggest and most noticeable differences between Spanish from Spain and Latin America is how they sound. The way words are pronounced in both of these places are very, very different.

A lot of people in Spain speak with a lisp (and even though this is not technically a lisp, it is the best way to describe it, as it is a completely different way to pronounce).

However, in Central America the final isn’t pronounced all the time, in fact, sometimes it’s eradicated altogether. Furthermore, in Argentina and Uruguay, the double Ll is often pronounced as ‘’sh’’.

It is definitely interesting to observe (or hear!) how pronunciations change all throughout the world, especially with such a beautiful language such as Spanish.

4. The Seseo or Ceceo is very intense:

Seseo means that letters CS and Z are read as if they were the ‘’th’’ in Spanish from Latin America. However, in Spain, they make the distinction between the specific sounds each letter has.

For example, the word Gracias (Thanks), will be pronounced as ‘’Gras-yas’’, whether in Spain it would be ‘’Gra-thias’’.

What’s more, the differences that do exist between Spain and Latin America’s Spanish are more of a source of amusement than a difficulty of communication.

Every language in the world has its own characteristic features, as they all represent the cultures where they have bloomed, the ways of how their people interact and how the idiosyncrasy has evolved or remained the same.