8 Main Differences Between Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish You Should Know



Do you ever fret that the Spanish you find out in one nation might not be comprehended in another?

Or have you found out some Spanish in Spain, just to go to a various Spanish-speaking nation in the future and discover yourself having a hard time to comprehend? Or vice versa?

Spanish is an intricate language that has actually progressed and grown in geographically and culturally diverse areas.

As an effect, there are some considerable distinctions in accents, grammar, vocabulary, slang and idioms in various parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

In this post, we’ll narrow our focus to analyze a few of the methods which Spanish from Spain (described as Peninsular, Castilian or european Spanish) is various from the Spanish spoken in the Americas (broadly described as Latin American Spanish).


8 Ways Castilian and Latin American Spanish Are Different

1. Modes of Address: Use of Ustedes vs Vosotros

In Spanish, there are formally 5 various methods which you can resolve individuals.

There are the 3 particular kinds tú, vos and usted, which represent the English “you.” These each have differing degrees of procedure. There are likewise the 2 plural kinds, vosotros and ustedes, which are utilized when talking to 2 or more individuals.

But hang on a minute, there’s a catch, and a crucial one at that!

  • In Latin American Spanish, when it concerns the plural kinds, just one of them remains in truth utilized– ustedes This is possibly the most crucial and frequently mentioned distinction in between Peninsular and Latin American Spanish, so take note.
  • In Peninsular Spanish, when you resolve 2 or more individuals, you have a option to utilize either vosotros or ustedes as your mode of address Which one you utilize is affected by a variety of aspects consisting of procedure of context, degree of regard wanting to be shown and the level of intimacy you have with whom you are speaking.


For a lot of typical everyday scenarios, vosotros is the order of business and you’ll hear it a lot in Spain.

If you’re familiar with individuals you’re resolving, you utilize vosotros and any verb conjugation and pronoun usage will follow its involved guidelines. Even if you’re not knowledgeable about these individuals, you’ll still utilize vosotros if they’re of a comparable age to you, or if there’s no specific requirement to manage them unique regard.


Conversely, in Spain, using ustedes is limited to more official celebrations or scenarios where presentations of regard are needed

For example, if you were talking to the board of directors at work, a group of political figures or the royal household in all their magnificence, you ‘d stay with utilizing ustedes. No doubt you can think about some other circumstances where it may be proper to utilize this.

In contrast, in Latin American Spanish, these kinds of differences aren’t an issue as you just have one option, ustedes It does not matter if you’re talking to your buddies, your moms and dads or the most crucial group of individuals in the world.

The vosotros type is never ever utilized in Latin America (aside from Argentina) and in truth went out of usage totally from Latin American Spanish by the end of the 19th century.

It’s worth bearing in mind that even native speakers from Latin America who go to Spain frequently have problem with it and will usually stay with utilizing ustedes, so do not feel regrettable if at first you do too! You’ll definitely be comprehended, nevertheless, you may discover yourself being fixed.

2. Usage of Usted vs Vos vs

Following on from above, it ought to come as not a surprise that using usted in Spain is likewise limited for more official celebrations and follows the exact same standards as described for its plural type. From individual experience, I just remember ever being attended to as usted as soon as in Spain when participating in a medical center.

Most of the time, will be enough for all typical circumstances You’ll require to utilize your discretion.

Conversely, in Latin American Spanish, usted is far more typically utilized Specifics of use will tend to alter a little depending upon which specific nation you’re in and therefore there’s no one-size-fits-all guideline. As a basic standard though, it’s generally an excellent concept to resolve any person you do not understand in the usted type

In Latin American Spanish, if you begin with usted you might be welcomed to tutear with the speaker– that is, to resolve them in type. In some nations such as Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and in parts of Colombia and Central America, you’ll rather be asked to vosear, which indicates to resolve them in the type of vos (a variation on tú, however similarly casual).

More frequently than not, you will not get a direct invite to alter over to the other verb type– you’ll simply need to listen thoroughly and detect what verb form your discussion partner has actually chosen to utilize with you.

It’s worth keeping in mind that using usted is as much a cultural as a linguistic phenomenon. Normally, there’s a strong propensity for politeness in Spanish-speaking Latin American nations. If you resolve individuals utilizing the or vos type without invite, it may be analyzed as extremely familiar or rude

Having stated that, it’ll likewise depend with whom you’re speaking. Normally, if you’re talking to more youthful individuals, utilizing or vos will be great, as they tend to utilize these kinds more.

It might appear a little intricate at first, however if you utilize your listening skills to pay very close attention to how those around you speak, you’ll rapidly have the ability to get the very best type of address in the location you’re in and you’ll be speaking like the residents in no time.

3. Variations in Accent and Pronunciation

A whole volume might be composed on the variety of various accents which are discovered in the Spanish-speaking world. Even within nations, accents can differ rather extremely, with modifications observable in between seaside areas, cities and backwoods.

Luckily for us students, although accents can alter drastically, pronunciation of words in between versions of Spanish remains for the many part extremely comparable. That being stated, there are a number of distinctions worth taking a look at.


The most notable of those is described in linguistics as difference ( distinción).

Many speakers of Spanish in Spain (however not all) tend to pronounce the c which comes in the past i and e as a th noise. The z, despite position, is likewise pronounced as a th noise This is what distinción describes.

A less kind analysis and periodic source of amusement for native Spanish speakers from other nations is to recommend that it seems like a lisp. It’s not really a lisp, however rather an unique type of pronunciation and is similarly proper.


Latin American Spanish speakers do not produce this noise. This Latin American pronunciation, not utilizing the th noise, is explained linguistically as seseo

Take for example the word gracias– in Latin America, together with a large part of Southern Spain and the Canary Islands, the word is noticable gracias
grasyas) In the majority of Spain nevertheless, it’s noticable gracias
grathyas)— following the guideline of difference, the c is noticable th

As a trainee, you’ll generally find out seseo in Latin American nations and distinción in Spain. In any case, you can be positive that whichever pronunciation design you find out, you’ll be comprehended.


As a last version to puzzle you, in other little areas of Southern Spain, it may be pronounced as grathyath ( the last s is altered to a th noise likewise). This is linguistically described as ceceo and is limited just to a little number of speakers in Spain

At times even native speakers of Spanish from various locations report troubles in comprehending one another due to accents. Do not get disappointed if you have problem comprehending things at first in a brand-new area.


Leísmogrammar and Object Pronoun (Mis) usage Rules are implied to be broken? At least it appears that’s what lots of speakers in Spain have actually believed concerning their language’s

Limited to Peninsular Spanish, there exists a phenomenon called leísmo Leísmo describes using the indirect item pronoun le rather of the technically proper direct item pronouns


when describing individuals.

“Huh,” you state? With a couple of examples, it may be clearer. Male Persons Example: I didn’t see Paulo the other day.[Leísmo – indirect object pronoun used] A Paolo no

le vi ayer [Standard Spanish – direct object pronoun used]

A Paolo no lo vi ayer Because the grammar guideline was so frequently broken in Spain, the Real Academia Española, the institute accountable for supervising the Spanish language, pertained to accept


as appropriate practice, however just when describing male individuals

It does not allow the term when describing women or utilizing the plural type. To highlight: Female Persons Example: I didn’t see Paula the other day.[incorrect – leísmo not permitted]

A Paula no le vi ayer A Maria no [correct – standard Spanish]


vi aye

r Plural Form Example: I didn’t see Paolo and Paola the other day.[incorrect – leísmo not permitted]

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

A Paolo y Paola no los vi ayer Whilst the academy does not formally

allow these uses as proper, you might extremely well still hear them on the streets of Spain. In Latin America, leísmo isn’t at all present and therefore you ought to utilize the direct item pronoun in all cases. As a student, I would highly advise that you find out and utilize the grammatically proper direct item pronouns no matter where you occur to be

You can then attempt to toss in some

  • leísmos if later on you acquire self-confidence and desire to blend it with the residents in Spain. 5. Main Vocabulary Differences
  • Moving on from grammatical styles, in between the Spanish versions there do likewise exist some noteworthy distinctions in vocabulary. To start, let’s have a look at the subject of driving and lorries. Case Study: Transportation Terms In Spain, a vehicle is almost constantly described as a coche
  • In Latin America nevertheless, depending upon where you are, the favored term is generally carro or auto/autom óvil
  • Generally, vehicle

is utilized in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, while the majority of the nations situated north of these will utilize


  • It ought to be kept in mind that coche is likewise utilized in parts of Mexico and Argentina as the primary term. Confusing? Sure. If you forget which term uses where, you’ll be comprehended anyhow.
  • The verb “to drive” likewise alters in between Peninsular and Latin American Spanish. In Spain, you’ll hear conducir utilized as the verb when describing driving a lorry. If you wished to park your automobile, in Spain the verb is aparcar. In Latin American Spanish, the term primarily utilized is manejar When parking your cars and truck in Latin American Spanish, you ‘d rather utilize

estacionar or parquear

In Spain,

  • manejar limits its significance to administering or handling something, i.e. manejar el negocio
  • (to handle a service). When referring to buses utilized for public transportation, Another noteworthy distinction can be discovered.

In Spain, usually a bus will be described an autobustransportation vocabulary in Spanish In Latin America, the term differs considerably depending upon the area and can differ within various parts of the exact same nation. Some examples of the term for bus which you may hear consist of:


amión, bus, micro, collectivo, chiva, guagua.

There are likely much more which I’ve missed out on. My finest guidance: ask among the residents, however usually

bus will be a sure thing to get you comprehended. Have a look at this post for more 6. More Notable Vocabulary Changes In the next paragraph, you’ll see 10 more typical words in action which alter in between Peninsular Spanish ( very first word) and Latin American Spanish (in brackets) Let’s state I’m trying to find a house to lease. First, I ‘d get on my computer system, or ordernador( computadora), and look online for some houses, or pisos (departamentos) I ‘d take out my mobile, móvil

( celular), to make any require houses that intrigued me, and utilize my pen, bolígrafo (lapicero/pluma), to make notes about them. Before leaving your house to go take a look at them, I ‘d go to my refrigerator, nevera (refrigerador), and take out a soda, gaseosa (soda), and a peach, melocotón (durazno), for the journey. I ‘d toss on my coat,

chaqueta (chamarra/campera)


get my sunglasses, There are of course some exceptions gafas (anteojos)

, and go out the door. It’s fine, you can clean the sweat off your eyebrow. Let me highlight that these various words are exceptions more than they are guidelines. These are simply cherry-picked examples of some typical modifications. You’ll discover the large bulk of basic vocabulary to be shared throughout Spain and Spanish-speaking nations in Latin America. 7. Very Same Words With Different Meanings Fortunately for trainees of Spanish, although there are distinctions in vocabulary, for the many part, when vocabulary is shared the significance does not alter. and one in specific deserves its own conversation.

In Peninsular Spanish, the verb

coger is regularly utilized and indicates to capture, get, or take Voy a coger un taxi” (I’m going to take a taxi) would be a completely decent sentence to utilize in Spain. If you were to state the exact same thing in some parts of Spanish-speaking Latin America you may be met a response varying from ridicule, surprise and laughter to finish shame depending upon your listener. Possibly you’ll get a mix of all 4. That’s because, in Latin American Spanish, coger

is utilized to describe, ahem, fornication, or rather its more repulsive four-letter equivalent

Voy a tomar un taxi”

is a much safer sentence in the Americas. That being stated, in some nations, it’s completely great to utilize coger within the ideal context. 8. Slang and Colloquialisms From a student’s point of view, slang and colloquialisms do tend to alter rather drastically throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and definitely more than typical vocabulary does. Not understanding slang definitely will not prevent your capability to interact, although the method it alters can be irritating if you’re attempting to impress your Spanish-speaking buddies. For example, in Spain, the words guay

or chulo are typically utilized to explain that something (or somebody) is cool, exceptional or groovy These words would not nevertheless imply quite to Spanish speakers in the Americas. Chulo is just utilized the exact same method in some Caribbean countries. Throughout Latin America, you’ll have the ability to hear lots of various words for cool and it tends to alter a lot depending upon where you are. In Mexico, you may hear chido or padre

, in Colombia


, in Argentina


and so on

You’ll encounter lots of, much more circumstances where slang modifications in various nations.

So what can you do as a Spanish trainee? Well, regretfully, there’s no silver bullet when it concerns slang. When we find out slang and colloquialisms, we aren’t just discovering the language however we’re likewise getting important and special insight into a specific nation’s culture. For this factor, I’m a strong supporter of discovering local vocabulary. This comes with a disclaimer: most colloquial words and expressions will not be at all helpful when you go to a various Spanish-speaking nation.

How Differences in Regional Spanish Affect Learners For trainees of Spanish, the small and significant distinctions can be a source of issue. They ought not to be. The truth that it’s like this truly should not come as a surprise either. If we take a look at the English language, we discover that the English spoken in Australia is various from that of Ireland, which once again is various from that of the United States, which is once again various from that of South Africa. They’re all, nevertheless, equally intelligible. Normally, as native speakers, the distinctions we encounter tend to be more a source of novelty or amusement than authentic obstacles to interaction. Similarly, the various kinds of Spanish are likewise equally intelligible. There are, nevertheless, some essential divergences which deserve checking out and ending up being mindful of. And I will not reject that if you’ve found out Spanish in one particular nation it might take you a little bit of time to get used to how it’s spoken in another. The procedure gets much easier the more you expose yourself to the various kinds of SpanishFluentU Check out books by Colombian and spanish authors, and listen to podcasts based in Madrid and Buenos Aires. You can likewise view motion pictures from both Spain and Mexico.

If you’ve got Netflix, attempt enjoying the Spanish series” Élite” ( Elite) and the Mexican telenovela

“La Reina del Sur”


he basics mainly remain the exact same. will then love FluentU Be positive that, no matter what various kind of Spanish you find out, you’ll have the ability to intelligibly interact with and be comprehended by Spanish speakers around the world. Don’t be fretted about the distinctions that do exist. Rather, when you encounter them, accept them as part of the delight and intricacy of discovering a language, and as a fantastic possibility to increase your cultural understanding.


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