Discover Cuban Spanish: Learn Key Phrases and Pronunciation Tips


Classic cars and trucks and vibrant colonial architecture are a reflection of a bygone time, while the rhythms of reggaeton and salsa dance through the air. Is a journey to Cuba on your pail list? It’s sure to be an unique experience and difficult to duplicate anywhere else on the planet, even amongst surrounding islands. Delight in staples like black beans and rice or the well-known cubano sandwich on an island soaked in living history. Invest the day checking out UNESCO World Heritage websites, stepping off the cobblestone streets into plazas, churches, and museums, or be familiar with the residents through a homestay or as a part of a humanitarian journey. We can’t forget the charm of its beaches, either.

To take advantage of your experience, you’ll wish to discover Cuban Spanish ahead of time. That method, you can speak with the residents and be familiar with their distinctively dynamic culture!

But even if you’re not practicing your Spanish in Cuba, you might come across Cuban Spanish in Florida, New Jersey, Mexico, or the Dominican Republic. You might have an interest in enhancing your understanding of Cuban Spanish you hear in online neighborhoods, through friends and family connections, or through music and art!

Below, we’ll stroll you through the subtleties of Cuban Spanish, consisting of distinct pronunciation and vocabulary. To master the essentials and beyond, you can likewise dive right into Rosetta Stone,available in Latin American Spanish Through immersive, bite-sized lessons, you can develop your Spanish speaking abilities in an enjoyable, engaging environment– no memorization needed.

Why is Spanish spoken in Cuba?

As with the majority of Spain’s previous nests– and much of the Caribbean– Cuba was formed by the transatlantic servant trade. Spanish ended up being the dominant language throughout the nation. The colonial powers utilized Spanish in all elements of public life, consisting of education, religious beliefs, and federal government. Spanish is still the main language of the island, and is spoken by practically all of its population.

Cuban Spanish stands out in its pattern of speech, indicating the method it sounds– from pronunciation to pacing– is a little various from more “basic” variations of Latin American Spanish. These subtleties show the Spanish that was spoken in the Canary Islands throughout the 20th and 19th centuries. Speakers knowledgeable about West African languages might see the remaining affects that still exist in Cuban Spanish today.

Note that Cuban Spanish is thought about a dialect of Spanish; it’s still reasonably simple for speakers of any Spanish dialect to comprehend the language. On the other hand, Haitian Creole, a language with French roots, grows in specific neighborhoods. Due to the fact that it’s a creole language, and not a dialect of French, it’s much harder for French speakers to comprehend. Lucumi, a liturgical language spoken by specialists of Santería, is likewise present.


How lots of individuals speak Spanish in Cuba?

Approximately 11 million individuals speak Spanish in Cuba. In the United States, Miami, Florida is popular for its ties to Cuban Spanish, with practically 2 million more of the population reporting that they speak Spanish in the house. There are big Cuban Spanish speaking neighborhoods in New Jersey, New York, California, and Texas.

In Cuba, individuals not just speak and comprehend Spanish, however likewise check out and compose it, as the Cuban system of universal and complimentary education (from early years to university), has actually cultivated among the greatest literacy rates on the planet.

What does a Cuban Spanish accent seem like?

Most individuals can’t view their own accent, however practically everybody’s speech is impacted by where they matured. English speakers from all over the world all appear to have significantly various pronunciation and tone, however can comprehend each other. Compare Louisiana to Liverpool, or Sydney to Scotland, and you can comprehend what we imply when we talk about the variety of local accents!

It’s essential to keep in mind that there is nobody specific Cuban Spanish accent. Similar to in English, there are local distinctions, even in between the East or the West of the very same island. In addition to area, generation, gender, and socio-economic elements can affect somebody’s accent. The particular regional accent may be apparent for a Cuban Spanish speaker, whereas for a student, Cuban Spanish may sound comparable to Puerto Rican or Dominican Spanish. If you’re a mindful listener, there might be a couple of tips that set Cuban Spanish speakers apart!

One of the distinguishing attributes of Cuban Spanish prevails amongst the other Caribbean dialects, such asPuerto Rican Spanish The last s noise can vanish completely, or end up being a little aspirated, like a soft English h or Spanish j. An s in the middle of the word might likewise vanish, leaving words like después (after) seeming like deh’ pue’. In this case, el e’ pañol cubano might be harder to comprehend up until you get utilized to this function.

Words that end in – ado and other “vowel- d– vowel” patterns might do not have the d noise in speech, seeming like cansa’o rather of cansado (worn out). Other times, consonants are softened a lot that they are practically soaked up into another noise in the word, as in the pronunciation of pierna ( leg) that seems like pie’ nna, or charla ( chat) which might seem like challa. Magnifico might sound more like ma’ nifigo

Depending on who you talk with, some other functions might stand apart, consisting of:

  • ll seems like y
  • rolling r sounds
  • r seeming like l
  • i sounds becoming e sounds
  • v or b seems like a w in specific words, and the 2 letters are noticable identically
  • z seems like s
  • difficult c sounds sounding more like g
  • t might be more highly noticable, with extra air
  • more nasally sounds throughout all speech

When comparing Eastern and Western Cuba, some proof recommends that the Western area speaks an up-to-date variation of Spanish (brand-new slang, less official grammar), while the East sounds more timeless and possibly more protected from modification.

It’s worth discovering how to tune your ear to the noises and rate of Cuban Spanish, as it can be challenging for students up until they grow familiar with the accent. And when you master that, increase your speed and attempt Dominican or Puerto Rican Spanish!

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What are the distinctions in between Cuban Spanish and Standard Latin American Spanish?

Predominance of

Most Cuban Spanish speakers will utilize the casual (you) rather of the more official usted (you). The more official pronoun is utilized in cases of real social hierarchy, however has actually acquired a great deal of ground, as it is viewed as far more friendly and egalitarian. Making use of vos (you) as a casual pronoun has all however vanished, however you might hear it on event.

As in the rest of Latin American Spanish, the ustedes ( you) type is utilized for any plural uses, as the vosotros ( the type of “you” utilized in casual plural scenarios in Peninsular Spanish) does not exist.

Redundant usage of subject pronouns

In much of basic Spanish, the subject pronoun is dropped completely unless required for clearness or focus. In Cuban Spanish, the subject pronoun is more frequently utilized in spite of whether it is redundant.

Sofía dice que ella quiere venir. = Sofia states that she wishes to come.

This might be an impact of the English language, which would not drop the subject pronoun in this case.

Subject pronouns are likewise put within concerns, after the interrogative and prior to the verb:

¿ Cómo estás? = How are you?

rather of the more typical structure one might see in other Spanish dialects:

¿ Cómo estás ()?

This is a quality of the Spanish spoken on the Canary islands, which has actually affected a lot of the Caribbean Spanish dialects.

Use of diminutives

Many ranges of Spanish usage – ito and – ita at the end of a word to make the indicating smaller sized, cuter, more caring, or perhaps negative, making it puzzling for students to capture the specific subtlety and significance of a word. These suffixes are utilized a lot in Spanish in Cuba, in addition to – tico and – tica

An individual might be called bajo ( brief), bajito, or perhaps bajitico in Cuba. The very same adjective might likewise be used to a low grade on an examination or bad participation at an occasion. The option of the basic adjective or range of suffix might depend upon tone or state of mind.

Sometimes the suffix triggers a modification in significance, as a kid might be called chiquito (little) as a practically negative method to state young adult, however if an individual utilizes chiquitico they are referring entirely to the little stature of the kid.

Influence of other languages

Because of the impact of Taino and English, some vocabulary distinctions will exist in Cuba, or have actually even affected the broader Spanish-speaking world.

Canoa (canoe), hamaca (hammock), and tabaco ( tobacco) were all words that originated from Taíno, as they were things formerly unidentified to the Spanish colonists and inhabitants.

Cuban Spanish in Miami, Florida

In neighborhoods where Cuban Spanish and English speaking Americans remain in close distance, there are markers of the shared impact of the 2 languages. This can vary from basic loaning of vocabulary to code-switching to such a degree that lots of have actually explained it with the term “Spanglish.” You see the impact of Spanish when an English speaker states that they were dreaming “with” something or somebody, rather of “about,” as the preposition would be utilized by doing this in Spanish in the expression soñar con (to dream about).

The 2nd generation of Cuban-American immigrants might be more competent in English than their moms and dads, and depending upon the individual, English might have a more powerful linguistic impact on their Spanish vocabulary and structure too.


What expressions or words should I understand if I’m taking a trip to Cuba?

Get a running start on your research study of Cuban Spanish with these beneficial expressions!

Cuban Spanish Meaning
¿ Qué bolá? / ¿ Qué volá? What’s up? (casual welcoming)
asere/ acere casual word for pal, such as brother, mate, guy
coger un diez to take a break
ir bajando To go out, to leave
yuma An immigrant or traveler, typically from the United States. This can in some cases be utilized offensively, however not constantly.
La Yuma The United States
una guagua a bus
pinchar to work
la pincha work
una chama a youngster
La Pura Mom (colloquial term)
el gao your house
bonche celebration
Dáme un cinco. Wait for me.
una máquina cars and truck
una botella a trip
chévere incredible, cool
la frutabomba papaya (utilizing the basic Spanish word for this fruit in Cuba describes a part of the female body, so choose the Cuban slang word in this case!)
una fosforera a lighter
por la izquierda ” Under the table,” as in refrained from doing exposed. This can describe a dubious deal.
jamar to consume/ to pack oneself
Voy a hacer café This can be a tip to eliminate a visitor, as in, “I’m prepared for you to leave my home now!”
tremendo mangón/ tremenda manguita a really appealing individual
moño vira’o in a really tiff
tu maletín it’s your issue
tirar un cabo to assist somebody out

>>Here’s 100+ basic Spanish phrases to add to your vocabulary!

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As one of the most widely spoken languages, you’re predestined to come across Spanish no matter where you remain in the world. Over 20 nations declare Spanish as their main language– from Cuba to Equatorial Guinea— and while each dialect stands out, the basics of Spanish are a must-know.

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Written by Jamie Edwards

Jamie is a student and instructor of French and spanish. When she’s not discovering brand-new words, you’ll discover her on the soccer sidelines, ski slopes, and track and field bleachers taking pleasure in the 4 seasons of Western New York.


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