What no one tells you about how different Spanish is on another continent

When you hit the intermediate Spanish level, there’s a point where you realize that this language is more than just words. There’s this big world full of different accents, cultures, and expressions waiting for you to discover them.

Some people say that Spanish from Spain should be the first one to learn because it offers more challenges and is usually spoken at a faster pace.

On the other hand, others suggest that Spanish from Latin America is easier and the clearest to understand, and for that reason, they say, it’s ideal to learn this accent.

There’s this a big dilemma among Spanish students about which is the best accent to learn, and many just go with the one belonging to the closest geographical location to them, now:

  • What’s the difference between these two accents?
  • Are they really that different?
  • What will you do?
  • How can you pick the best Spanish for you to learn?

During this blog post, you will find the biggest difference between Spanish from Spain and Latin America so you can make a wise choice aiming to sound like a native Speaker from either one of these regions.

A little bit of history…

two men and a horse walking on mountains

In the past, Latin was a very well known language in Italy and the Roman empire.

Spanish came out as a derived from a dialect of spoken Latin which was developed in the Iberian-peninsula.

Over time the language expanded to the mediterranean sea reaching the Spanish empire, including the new continent: América (More significantly in central and South America).

That’s basically how Spanish got spread through Spain and Latin America. However even though we are talking about two completely different continents, notice that we are talking about only one language.

Is Spanish from Spain really that different from the one spoken in Latin América?

No, Spanish is the same language in any part of the world, it has the same structure.

In fact, native speakers from Latin America can perfectly understand Castilian Spanish (from Spain) and vice versa.

That means that Spanish is universal.

If you learn to speak one accent, you will be able to understand any accent.

Of course, it can be difficult after being used to one accent, to try to understand a different one, this is even difficult for native speakers.

This is just like one of my American friends who was watching a British movie, he said that the language sounds just a bit different and he preferred to turn subtitles on.

Same thing happens in Spanish.

Maybe Colombians think that Castilian Spanish is different because they speak faster or because they use ‘vosotros’ instead of ‘ustedes’.

Actually, this perception of Spanish being different also happens inside of Latin America itself.

For example, in some parts of Mexico people may think that Spanish in Argentina is different because they use ‘vos’ instead of ‘tú’ when referring to the second person of singular.

However, native speakers understand each other in general, and the small differences are just living in the meaning that some regions give to certain words and expressions.

Main differences between Spanish from Spain vs Latin America

two lions resting on a stone

The letters ‘z’ y ‘c’:

In Spain people pronounce these two letters just like we pronounce the ‘th’ in English. However in Latin America, it doesn’t matter what letter it is, it will always sound like the ‘s’.

For example, the word “cerveza” in Spain would sound like: th-erve-th-a, now in Latin America would sound: s-erve-s-a.

Of course, spelling is the same for both regions: “Cerveza”.

The second plural person:

This is the people or things that you are directly talking to.

In Spain, people use the form ‘vosotros’ along with its verb conjugation (ending in ‘ais’ – ‘eis’…). For example:

Vosotros jugais fútbol todos los días.

They also use the pronoun ‘ustedes’ along with its verb conjugation (ending in ‘an’ – ‘en’…).

However, using this pronoun will indicate a very formal way of talking in this country, for example:

Ustedes juegan fútbol todos los días.

In Latin-America on the other hand, people only use ‘ustedes’, it doesn’t matter if they are using a formal or informal way of talking.

Actually, for most Latinos, the use of ‘vosotros’ may sound old and even funny.

The meaning of some words:

Inside of a language, there will always be different ways to use the words according to the country or region where they are used.

For example, in American English people may say ‘movie theater’ when referring to the place where they go to see movies.

Now, in British English, they may refer to the same thing as the cinema.

Well, the same thing happens in Spanish. For instance, in Latin America people say ‘el célular’ to refer to their cellphone, now in Spain people say ‘el mobil.’

There are also some words that are used very differently among these two Spanish speaking areas, like the word ‘coger’, which can mean to have sex or simply the literal translation to the verb: ‘to take’, depending on the country.

Also, the word ‘Tio’ in Spain means buddy, guy, or dude, depending on the context, whereas in Latin-America it means uncle.

And these are just a few examples of the variations in words that may seem to make a difference between Spain and Latin-America.

“…So which one should I learn?… Which one is the best?…”

As I said before, Spanish is universal, and native speakers from any country are able to understand other countries perfectly.

It doesn’t matter if you go with Castilian Spanish or the accent spoken in Latin America, as long as it is Spanish, you will be doing a great job.

However, many people decide to focus on a certain accent for several different reasons.

  • Maybe they have family in that country.
  • Their favorite Spanish speaking country uses a particular accent.
  • It is just the closest Spanish speaking country to them.
  • It’s the accent that they feel more comfortable to learn.
  • Or it’s just their favorite accent in Spanish.

Now, which is the best Spanish? You might ask… There’s no best Spanish, it is all the same beautiful language! Just make sure you pick an accent you like and learn it deeply.

Which Spanish accent would you like to learn? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to tell me why you want to learn that particular accent.

Would you like to know more about how to learn to speak Spanish deeply, just like a native speaker does? … Sign up for my 8-day free Email course and find out the answer.

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2 thoughts on “What no one tells you about how different Spanish is on another continent

  1. Great article! I was scared I would find out I was studying the wrong language lol. I’m glad to know I’m not and that once I learn one Spanish accent I would still be able to understand the other accents!

    I’ve been studying Latin American Spanish because I live in the U.S and the Latin American Spanish is most common here. 🙂

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