by Valeria Biancalani
If you have just begun learning Spanish, you will probably be wondering what the difference between European Spanish and South American Spanish is. This is a valid question and, although there are distinct variations between the 2 different forms of Spanish, the good news is that if you can speak Spanish, you will be able to understand either one.
However, this doesn't mean that they are the same. For this reason, when learning Spanish, it is always a good idea to learn the differences between the 2 types as well.
So, let's take a look at the main differences between Spanish from Spain and Spanish from Latin America.
In terms of vocabulary, Spanish is generally a universal language with some differences from one region to another. You could almost compare the differences in vocabulary to the variations one sees in British and American English. For example:
|Word||European Spanish||Latin American Spanish|
|Computer||Ordenador||Computador / Computadora|
|Fridge||Frigorífico / Nevera||Refrigerador / Heladera|
|Car||Coche||Carro / Auto (Argentinian)|
|To catch, to grab||Coger*||Tomar / Agarrar|
*Be careful with the verb “coger” because it is used a lot in Spain and refers to catching or grabbing, but in Latin America it is a slang verb meaning to make love!
Although you would be able to understand Spanish anywhere, the accent does vary from place to place. In Argentina double L (ll), which is normally pronounced “y” [j] is pronunced like “sh” [ʃ].
Central Americans also love not pronouncing “s” and often leave out syllables when speaking. However, possibly the most significant difference in pronunciation between Latin American Spanish and European Spanish is the pronunciation of the letters 'c' and 'z'. In Spain the letter 'c' followed by 'e' and 'i' and the letter 'z' usually sound like 'th' [θ], but in Latin America these letters sound like an 's'.
Spanish grammar is generally uniform for both European Spanish and South American Spanish, although there are some differences worth mentioning.
Writing systems | Language and languages | Language learning | Pronunciation | Learning vocabulary | Language acquisition | Motivation and reasons to learn languages | Being and becoming bilingual | Arabic | Basque | Chinese | English | Esperanto | French | German | Greek | Hebrew | Indonesian | Italian | Japanese | Korean | Latin | Portuguese | Russian | Sign Languages | Spanish | Swedish | Other languages | Minority and endangered languages | Constructed languages (conlangs) | Reviews of language courses and books | Language learning apps | Teaching languages | Languages and careers | Language and culture | Language development and disorders | Translation and interpreting | Multilingual websites, databases and coding | History | Travel | Food | Other topics | Spoof articles | How to submit an article
If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.
Note: all links on this site to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.