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Minh Cuong DOAN

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Do the characteristics of Spanish differ between Latin America and Europe?

Misunderstanding in Spanish from different countries Hispano

What separate Latin Spanish from European Spanish is a question you ask frequently. Although each language has distinctive features, it is crucial to remember that Spanish speakers can easily comprehend one another, whether they live in Spain, Cuba, Argentina, or any other Spanish-speaking country. Similar to how readily Brazilians and Portuguese speakers can understand one another.

In Latin America, they call this language Español, because it was brought by the Spanish colonists. However, in Spain it is often called Castellano, in reference to the region of Castilla, considered the cradle of our language.

Here are the most notable ones:

1. Pronunciation

Firstly, the pronunciation of the Z and C is the biggest distinction between Spanish spoken in Spain and Spanish spoken in Latin America (before I or E). These two letters are pronounced as an S in Latin America and as a TH in Spain. 

Ex: Zapato with Mexican accent

Zapato with Spanish accent

Secondly, The double LL and Y sounds are sometimes spoken like an English SH in River Plate (Río de la Plata in Spanish) mainly Uruguay and Argentina, while other Spanish speakers would pronounce it as a Y sound.

Ex: Vamos a la playa


2. Vocabulary

CastellanoEspañol in Latin America
Muy guayMuy chido/cheveres/padre
Coger el autobusTomar el autobús


3. Ustedes vs Vosotros/as

  • Ustedes

Ustedes is the second-person plural form of “you” in Spanish. This pronoun is used as a formal way to address a group of people or an individual in Latin American. While, The pronouns vosotros and vosotras are only used in Spain. The informal word for “you” in the second-person plural is “vosotros.” . However, in Spain, when addressing your group of friends you would use vosotros, in Latin America, since vosotros doesn’t exist.

  • Voseo

Voseo is a form of the verb “to be” in Spanish, which is used mainly in parts of Latin America. It is used to address one person in informal situations. The use of voseo can be found in Spanish-speaking countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, etc. In some countries where it is spoken, voseo can also be used to address more than one person at once or groups of people.


4. Grammar

There are differences between how Spaniards and Latin Americans speak about the past.

  •  In Spain, the present perfect tense is frequently used to describe an activity that has already been completed: anoche, la fiesta ha sido increíble (last night, the party was incredible). 
  • The simple past is more frequently used in Latin America: anoche, la fiesta fue increíble (last night, the party was incredible)


5. Cultural Differences

Finally, there are also cultural differences between Latin American and European Spanish. Although both types of Spanish share a common history and culture, there are many differences that reflect the unique experiences of each region.

A good example of the cultural differences between Latin American and European Spaniards is the celebration of “Día de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead). Compared to Mexico and other Latin American countries, the holiday is celebrated on November 1 and 2, as a time for families to gather and remember loved ones who have passed away.

On the other hand, in Spain, there is a similar holiday called “Todos los Santos” (All Saints’ Day) which is also celebrated on November 1st, however, the way it is celebrated is different from the way “Día de” los Muertos” is celebrated in Latin America. In Spain, people often go to cemeteries to clean and decorate the graves of loved ones, but the holiday is generally a more solemn and somber occasion.


6. Conclusion

In short word, while both Latin American and European Spanish speak Spanish, there are notable differences in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. These differences are shaped by historical, social and cultural factors that have influenced the development of the Spanish language in different regions. Understanding these differences is important not only for effective communication, but also for appreciating the rich diversity of Spanish-speaking cultures.

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Photo profile_Minh Cuong Doan

Minh Cuong DOAN

As a language lover and international trade marketer, my goal is to share my knowledge and experience in learning romance languages with others.

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