Thursday, February 29, 2024

8 Major Variations Between Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish You Ought to Know


Do you ever fear that the Spanish you study in a single nation may not be understood in one other?

Or have you ever discovered some Spanish in Spain, solely to go to a unique Spanish-speaking nation in a while and end up struggling to know? Or vice versa?

Spanish is a posh language that has advanced and matured in geographically and culturally disparate areas.

As a consequence, there are some vital variations in accents, grammar, vocabulary, slang and idioms in several elements of the Spanish-speaking world.

On this publish, we’ll slender our focus to look at a number of the methods through which Spanish from Spain (known as Peninsular, European or Castilian Spanish) is completely different from the Spanish spoken within the Americas (broadly known as Latin American Spanish).


8 Methods Castilian and Latin American Spanish Are Totally different

1. Modes of Deal with: Use of Ustedes vs Vosotros

In Spanish, there are formally 5 alternative ways in which you’ll deal with folks. 

There are the three singular kinds tú, vos and ustedwhich correspond to the English “you.” These every have various levels of ritual. There are additionally the two plural kinds, vosotros and ustedesthat are used when chatting with two or extra folks.

However maintain on a second, there’s a catch, and an vital one at that!

  • In Latin American Spanish, with regards to the plural kinds, solely certainly one of them is in truth used—ustedesThat is maybe crucial and most frequently cited distinction between Peninsular and Latin American Spanish, so concentrate.
  • In Peninsular Spanish, if you deal with two or extra folks, you’ve gotten a option to use both vosotros or ustedes as your mode of deal with. Which one you employ is influenced by quite a few components together with formality of context, diploma of respect wishing to be demonstrated and the extent of intimacy you’ve gotten with whom you’re talking.


For most traditional day-to-day circumstances, vosotros is the order of the day and also you’ll hear it quite a bit in Spain.

When you’re accustomed to the folks you’re addressing, you employ vosotros and any verb conjugation and pronoun use will comply with its related guidelines. Even when you’re not accustomed to these folks, you’ll nonetheless use vosotros in the event that they’re of an identical age to you, or if there’s no explicit requirement to afford them particular respect.


Conversely, in Spain, the usage of ustedes is restricted to extra formal events or circumstances the place demonstrations of respect are required.

For instance, when you have been chatting with the board of administrators at work, a bunch of political figures or the royal household in all their glory, you’d follow utilizing ustedes. Little doubt you’ll be able to consider another conditions the place it could be acceptable to make use of this.

In distinction, in Latin American Spanish, all these distinctions aren’t a priority as you solely have one alternative, ustedes. It doesn’t matter when you’re chatting with your finest associates, your dad and mom or crucial group of individuals on earth.

The vosotros kind isn’t utilized in Latin America (apart from Argentina) and in reality pale out of use fully from Latin American Spanish by the tip of the nineteenth century.

It’s value remembering that even native audio system from Latin America who go to Spain usually have hassle with it and can usually follow utilizing ustedes, so don’t really feel too dangerous if initially you do too! You’ll definitely be understood, nonetheless, you may end up being corrected.

2. Use of Usted vs Vos vs

Following on from above, it ought to come as no shock that the usage of usted in Spain can also be restricted for extra formal events and follows the identical pointers as outlined for its plural kind. From private expertise, I solely recall ever being addressed as usted as soon as in Spain when attending a medical clinic.

More often than not,  will suffice for all regular situations. Nevertheless, you’ll want to make use of your discretion.

Conversely, in Latin American Spanish, usted is far more generally used. Specifics of utilization will have a tendency to alter barely relying on which explicit nation you’re in and thus there’s no one-size-fits-all rule. As a basic guideline although, it’s often a good suggestion to handle anyone you don’t know within the usted kind.

In Latin American Spanish, when you begin with usted you might be invited to tutear with the speaker—that’s, to handle them in kind. In some nations reminiscent of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and in elements of Colombia and Central America, you’ll as an alternative be requested to vosear, which suggests to handle them within the type of vos (a variation on tú, however equally casual).

As a rule, you gained’t get a direct invitation to alter over to the opposite verb kind—you’ll simply should pay attention fastidiously and decide up on what verb kind your dialog accomplice has determined to make use of with you.

It’s value noting that the usage of usted is as a lot a cultural as a linguistic phenomenon. Typically, there’s a powerful tendency for politeness in Spanish-speaking Latin American nations. When you deal with folks utilizing the  or vos kind with out invitation, it could be interpreted as rude or overly acquainted.

Having stated that, it’ll additionally rely with whom you’re talking. Typically, when you’re talking with youthful folks, utilizing  or vos will likely be positive, as they have a tendency to make use of these kinds extra.

It might appear somewhat complicated initially, however when you use your listening expertise to pay shut consideration to how these round you communicate, you’ll shortly be capable of decide up the perfect type of deal with within the space you’re in and also you’ll be talking just like the locals very quickly.

3. Variations in Accent and Pronunciation

A whole quantity might be written on the array of various accents that are discovered within the Spanish-speaking world. Even inside nations, accents can fluctuate fairly wildly, with modifications observable between coastal areas, cities and rural areas.

Fortunately for us learners, though accents can change radically, pronunciation of phrases between variants of Spanish stays for essentially the most half very related. That being stated, there are a few variations value taking a look at. 


Essentially the most noteworthy of these is referred to in linguistics as distinction (distinción).

Many audio system of Spanish in Spain (however not all) tend to pronounce the c which comes earlier than i and e as a th sound. The z, no matter place, can also be pronounced as a th sound. That is what distinción refers to. 

A much less sort interpretation and occasional supply of amusement for native Spanish audio system from different nations is to counsel that it seems like a lisp. It’s not really a lisp, however somewhat a definite type of pronunciation and is equally right.


Latin American Spanish audio system don’t produce this sound. This Latin American pronunciation, not utilizing the th sound, is described linguistically as seseo.

Take for instance the phrase gracias—in Latin America, together with a large a part of Southern Spain and the Canary Islands, the phrase is pronounced gracias
grasyas). In most of Spain nonetheless, it’s pronounced gracias
grathyas)—following the rule of distinction, the c is pronounced th.

As a pupil, you’ll often study seseo in Latin American nations and distinción in Spain. Both approach, you might be assured that whichever pronunciation fashion you study, you’ll be understood.


As a ultimate variant to confuse you, in different small areas of Southern Spain, it could be pronounced as grathyath (the ultimate s is modified to a th sound additionally). That is linguistically known as ceceo and is restricted solely to a small variety of audio system in Spain.

At instances even native audio system of Spanish from completely different areas report difficulties in understanding each other attributable to accents. Subsequently, don’t get disillusioned if in case you have hassle understanding issues initially in a brand new location.

4. Leísmo and Object Pronoun (Mis)use

Guidelines are supposed to be damaged, proper?

No less than plainly’s what many audio system in Spain have thought relating to their language’s grammar. Restricted to Peninsular Spanish, there exists a phenomenon referred to as leísmo.

Leísmo refers to the usage of the oblique object pronoun le as an alternative of the technically right direct object pronouns lo/la when referring to folks. “Huh,” you say? With just a few examples, it could be clearer.

Male Individuals

Instance: I didn’t see Paulo yesterday.

A Paolo no le vi ayer [Leísmo – indirect object pronoun used] 

A Paolo no lo vi ayer [Standard Spanish – direct object pronoun used]

As a result of the grammar rule was so usually damaged in Spain, the Actual Academia Española, the institute accountable for overseeing the Spanish language, got here to simply accept leísmo as acceptable apply, however solely when referring to male individuals. It doesn’t allow the time period when referring to females or utilizing the plural kind. As an instance:

Feminine Individuals

Instance: I didn’t see Paula yesterday.

A Paula no le vi ayer [incorrect – leísmo not permitted]

A Maria no la vi ayer [correct – standard Spanish]

Plural Kind

Instance: I didn’t see Paolo and Paola yesterday.

A Paolo y Paola no les vi ayer [incorrect – leísmo not permitted]

A Paolo y Paola no los vi ayer [correct – standard Spanish]

While the academy doesn’t formally allow these usages as right, you might very effectively nonetheless hear them on the streets of Spain. In Latin America, leísmo isn’t in any respect current and thus it’s best to use the direct object pronoun in all instances.

As a learner, I’d strongly advocate that you simply study and use the grammatically right direct object pronouns regardless of the place you occur to be. If in a while you acquire confidence and need to combine it with the locals in Spain, you’ll be able to then attempt to throw in some leísmos.

5. Major Vocabulary Variations

Shifting on from grammatical themes, between the Spanish variants there do additionally exist some notable variations in vocabulary. To start, let’s check out the subject of driving and automobiles.

Case Examine: Transportation Phrases

  • In Spain, a automotive is sort of at all times known as a coche.
  • In Latin America nonetheless, relying on the place you’re, the popular time period is often carro or auto/automóvil.
  • Typically, auto is utilized in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, whereas many of the nations positioned north of those will use carro.
  • It must be famous that coche can also be utilized in elements of Mexico and Argentina because the predominant time period. 

Complicated? Positive. However when you overlook which time period applies the place, you’ll be understood anyway.

The verb “to drive” additionally modifications between Peninsular and Latin American Spanish.

  • In Spain, you’ll hear conducir used because the verb when referring to driving a automobile. When you needed to park your automobile, in Spain the verb is aparcar.
  • In Latin American Spanish, the time period predominantly used is manejar. When parking your automotive in Latin American Spanish, you’d as an alternative use estacionar or parquear.

In Spain, manejar restricts its that means to managing or administering one thing, i.e. manejar el negocio (to handle a enterprise).  

One other notable distinction might be discovered when referring to buses used for public transport.

  • In Spain, usually a bus will likely be referred to an autobus.
  • In Latin America, the time period varies drastically relying on the area and may fluctuate inside completely different elements of the identical nation. Some examples of the time period for bus which you may hear embrace: camión, bus, micro, collectivo, chiva, guagua.

There are doubtless many extra which I’ve missed. My finest recommendation: ask one of many locals, however usually bus will likely be a secure wager to get you understood. Try this publish for extra transportation vocabulary in Spanish

6. Extra Notable Vocabulary Modifications

Within the subsequent paragraph, you’ll see 10 extra widespread phrases in motion which change between Peninsular Spanish (first phrase) and Latin American Spanish (in brackets)

Let’s say I’m on the lookout for an house to hire.

First, I’d bounce on my laptop, or ordernador(computadora), and look on-line for some residences, or pisos (departamentos). I’d pull out my cell, móvil (celular), to make any requires residences that me, and use my pen, bolígrafo (lapicero/pluma), to make notes about them.

Earlier than leaving the home to go take a look at them, I’d go to my fridge, nevera (refrigerador), and pull out a gentle drink, gaseosa (soda), and a peach, melocotón (durazno), for the journey. I’d throw on my jacket, chaqueta (chamarra/campera), seize my sun shades, gafas (anteojos), and head out the door.

It’s okay, you’ll be able to wipe the sweat off your forehead. Let me emphasize that these completely different phrases are exceptions greater than they’re guidelines. These are simply cherry-picked examples of some widespread modifications. You’ll discover the overwhelming majority of ordinary vocabulary to be shared throughout Spain and Spanish-speaking nations in Latin America. 

7. Similar Phrases With Totally different Meanings 

Thankfully for college students of Spanish, though there are variations in vocabulary, for essentially the most half, when vocabulary is shared the that means doesn’t change. There are in fact some exceptions and one specifically deserves its personal dialogue.

In Peninsular Spanish, the verb coger is often used and means to catch, seize, or take. “Voy a coger un taxi” (I’m going to take a taxi) can be a superbly respectable sentence to make use of in Spain.

When you have been to say the identical factor in some elements of Spanish-speaking Latin America you could be met with a response starting from laughter, ridicule and shock to finish embarrassment relying in your listener. Maybe you’ll get a mix of all 4.

That’s as a result of, in Latin American Spanish, coger is used to check with, ahem, fornication, or somewhat its extra vulgar four-letter equal. “Voy a tomar un taxi” is a safer sentence within the Americas. That being stated, in some nations, it’s completely positive to make use of coger inside the fitting context.

8. Slang and Colloquialisms

From a learner’s perspective, slang and colloquialisms do have a tendency to alter fairly radically all through the Spanish-speaking world, and positively greater than widespread vocabulary does.

Not figuring out slang definitely gained’t hinder your skill to speak, though the way in which it modifications might be irritating when you’re attempting to impress your Spanish-speaking associates.

For instance, in Spain, the phrases guay or chulo are generally used to explain that one thing (or somebody) is cool, groovy or glorious. These phrases wouldn’t nonetheless imply very a lot to Spanish audio system within the Americas. Chulo is barely used the identical approach in some Caribbean nations.

All through Latin America, you’ll be capable of hear many many various phrases for cool and it tends to alter quite a bit relying on the place you’re. In Mexico, you may hear chido or padre, in Colombia bacano, in Argentina copado and so forth. You’ll come throughout many, many extra situations the place slang modifications in several nations.

So what are you able to do as a Spanish pupil? Effectively, sadly, there’s no silver bullet with regards to slang. Once we study slang and colloquialisms, we aren’t solely studying the language however we’re additionally getting distinctive and precious perception into a specific nation’s tradition.

For that reason, I’m a powerful advocate of studying regional vocabulary. Nevertheless, this comes with a disclaimer: most colloquial phrases and expressions gained’t be in any respect helpful if you go to a unique Spanish-speaking nation.

How Variations in Regional Spanish Have an effect on Learners

For college kids of Spanish, the key and minor variations generally is a supply of concern. Nevertheless, they ought to not be. The truth that it’s like this actually shouldn’t come as a shock both.

If we take a look at the English language, we discover that the English spoken in Australia is completely different from that of Eire, which once more is completely different from that of the US, which is once more completely different from that of South Africa. They’re all, nonetheless, mutually intelligible. Typically, as native audio system, the variations we come throughout are typically extra a supply of novelty or amusement than real hindrances to communication.

Equally, the several types of Spanish are additionally mutually intelligible. There are, nonetheless, some key divergences that are value exploring and changing into conscious of. And I gained’t deny that when you’ve discovered Spanish in a single particular nation it could take you a little bit of time to regulate to the way it’s spoken in one other.

The method will get simpler the extra you expose your self to the several types of Spanish. So learn books by Spanish and Colombian authors, and hearken to podcasts based mostly in Madrid and Buenos Aires. You too can watch films from each Spain and Mexico.

When you’ve acquired Netflix, strive watching the Spanish sequence“Élite” (Elite) and the Mexican telenovela “La Reina del Sur” (The Queen of the South) to match accents and slang. The video-based language studying program FluentU additionally has media clips showcasing each Spanish variations.

The fundamentals largely keep the identical. Be assured that, it doesn’t matter what completely different sort of Spanish you study, you’ll be capable of intelligibly talk with and be understood by Spanish audio system across the globe.

Don’t be nervous in regards to the variations that do exist. As an alternative, if you come throughout them, embrace them as a part of the enjoyment and complexity of studying a language, and as a fantastic probability to extend your cultural understanding.

And One Extra Factor…

When you’ve made it this far meaning you most likely take pleasure in studying Spanish with participating materials and
will then love FluentU.

Different websites use scripted content material. FluentU makes use of a pure method that helps you ease into the Spanish language and tradition over time. You’ll study Spanish because it’s really spoken by actual folks.

FluentU has all kinds of movies, as you’ll be able to see right here:


FluentU brings native movies inside attain with interactive transcripts. You may faucet on any phrase to look it up immediately. Each definition has examples which have been written that can assist you perceive how the phrase is used. When you see an attention-grabbing phrase you don’t know, you’ll be able to add it to a vocab checklist.


Evaluation an entire interactive transcript underneath the Dialogue tab, and discover phrases and phrases listed underneath Vocab.


Be taught all of the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s sturdy studying engine. Swipe left or proper to see extra examples of the phrase you’re on.


One of the best half is that FluentU retains monitor of the vocabulary that you simply’re studying, and provides you further apply with tough phrases. It will even remind you when it’s time to evaluate what you’ve discovered. Each learner has a very personalised expertise, even when they’re studying with the identical video.

Begin utilizing the FluentU web site in your laptop or pill or, higher but, obtain the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play retailer. Click on right here to make the most of our present sale! (Expires on the finish of this month.)

Supply hyperlink

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles