So before we jump to the technicalities of Latin American Spanish vs Spain Spanish, let me start with an anecdote.
My friend from Peru was once in for a shocker, when my Mexican friend told her that she had an accent. It was this in-your-face kind of declaration that happened after my Peruvian friend said that she didn’t have an accent. That people in Lima didn’t have an accent.
There were five people in the car: Me the Colombian, my girlfriends from Peru and Mexico, and two Indian guys who also spoke fluent Spanish. So this declaration from the Mexican girl definitely sprung off a long conversation on this topic.
Everyone who speaks Spanish as a native language will have an accent. Some accents would be easier to understand. Some wouldn’t.
And unlike English, the same Spanish word can have wildly different meanings in different countries.
Here is an example that always ends with a laugh riot, and is the origin of so many memes.
The verb coger in Spanish can translate to “hold” or “catch” and wait for it …. “fuck”.
So take a moment and let that sink in.
Castillan Spanish vs Spanish in Latin America
In Spain, Spanish takes the name CASTELLANO, since its origin comes from the language spoken in the Kingdom of Castile, and in turn, the name that is given has its root in the Latin word castellanus.
This kingdom was located in the central area of what is now Spain.
Latin American Spanish Speaking Countries
While, we usually consider all the countries below the U.S.A. to be Latin America, there are 21 Spanish speaking countries in Latin America in reality.
Is Spain Latin America?
No it is not. Spain is in Europe, and Latin America largely consists of countries in the Americas.
Latin American Spanish vs Spain Spanish
1. Tú o ¿vos?
One of the very noticeable differences that you would come across while speaking Spanish in Spain and Latin America is the way to to say “you”.
Vos in Spanish means “you” in English. Same goes for Tú.
However, you would hear the pronoun vos in Argentina and Uruguay in Latin America, and some specific places like Medellin in Colombia.
The use of vos has to do with the functioning of the treatment system (the way in which people spoke each other) at the time when the Spanish language was exported to Latin America.
But then it ceased to exist in Spain but continues in much of Latin America until the present day.
To a certain extent, Spanish is universal. Don’t get me wrong. But the fun begins when the meaning of words changes dramatically throughout different countries.
Depending on the country you are in, you will find out that the same things have different names. On many occasions, these words can have a totally different meaning or a double meaning depending on the country.
If you say it wrong, there might be a laugh riot or a sock wave.
When you like something/ Gusta in Spanish
So to say that you like something in Spanish, there are many ways. While for learners, the usage of Gusta in Spanish is a common way to you like something, you would often hear natives using different phrases to express the same.
Probably a bit like how English speakers would use “it’s awesome” or “that’s the dope” or “coolest thing ever”, to let someone know that they like it.
All the below-mentioned phrases would roughly translate to “it’s cool/great” in English.
Spain = esto mola
México = está chido
República Dominicana = eto tá
Puerto Rico = está chévere
Colombia = está bacano
Technological Words in Spanish
When it comes to technical words, there will be many differences between Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish. One of the widespread ones is the way to say “mobile phone in Spanish”, or say “computer in Spanish”.
Mobile = móvil
Computer = ordenador
Mobile = celular
Computer = computadora o computador
If you learned Spanish in Latin America and went to travel to Spain, you would come across a lot of different usages when it comes to common words. Here is an example of how to say bus/car in Spanish.
Bus = autobús
Car = coche
Colombia: Bus= bus, Car = carro
México: Bus= camión, Car = carro
Puerto Rico/Dominical Republic: Bus=guagua, Car = carro
Argentina: Bus = colectivo, Car = auto
3. Latin American Spanish vs Spain Spanish Pronounciation
Like any language, the accents in Spanish will change throughout Latin America and Spain.
The place where you study Spanish will probably decide the way your Spanish will be. But this will not be an impediment to speaking with Hispanics or Latinos from all over the world.
Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of braveryAmy Chua
A fun fact: My Indian husband learned Spanish in Latin America, and his accent is much more close to that of a Latino. While at the same time, I have met many Indians students taking Spanish lessons from Instituto Cervantes in India ( an initiative of Spain) and their accent is much closer to people from Spain.
That being said, here are some differences.
Spanish Pronunciation : ll or el “ceceo”
The “ll” in Argentina, has a sound “Sh”. While in Spain and many countries in Latin America, it will be pronounced as the letter “y” in English. Yet, in many regions of Latin America, it will be pronounced as the letter “j” or “z” in English.
Here are two examples with the words Pollo and Medellin. Pollo means chicken in English. And Medellin is one of the most visited cities of Colombia.
Learn Spanish Spain vs Spanish Latin America?
When choosing where to learn Spanish, think about where you would prefer to be, what kind of experience you want to live in and, obviously, your budget. No matter which Spanish you speak, you will be able to talk to half of the world.
Spanish is a very versatile language and you should not really worry about whether to learn Spain Spanish or Latin American Spanish. When beginning your journey with Spanish, you just need to make the choice.
So, if you are planning to move to Spain or travel there, by all means, go for Spanish from Spain.
But maybe you see yourself living in Latin America. Maybe you love the Latin American culture or a Latino? Maybe you love the Latin beats or carnivals in Latin America? And you want to save some money while learning Spanish?
Then by all means, go and learn Spanish in South America.