Which Spanish to learn?

As you know, all languages “sound” different across regions; Spanish is not the exception. Although people notice most differences in “sounds” or accents, there are differences also in grammar, vocabulary, idioms and slangs. There is a small variety of Spanishes around the world, and, of course, they are mutually intelligible, that means the one you choose will be understood in any Spanish speaking country.  Below, we will review some of the differences between them. However, your choice of one will be determined by your needs.

Types of Spanish

First of all, you need to know that there is no standard Spanish, only dialects. That said, in Spanish we have two main divisions: Peninsular Spanish (from Spain) and Latin American Spanish. Each variety has other “mini-divisions”. Peninsular Spanish has three main branches: Castilian, Andalusian and Canary. Latin American Spanish has three main variations as well: Caribbean, Mexican and Argentinian. Again, there is no better Spanish than another; it is all about your interests. Let´s describe some of the main differences between both main types of Spanish.

Main differences

There are some general differences between the Spanish from both continents, such as that the Latin American Spanish has a stronger r and has a relatively clearer pronunciation than Peninsular Spanish. Let us list some of the most known ones in grammar and pronunciation.

Use of vos vs. usted vs. . The singular form of you is , usted and vos. Peninsular Spanish uses the form vos, Latin American Spanish uses the forms usted for formal and for less formal communication. In some parts of Latin America (i.e. Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Costa Rica and some other parts of Central America), they also take the form vos. The only difficult thing for you in the vos form is memorizing the conjugations or endings, but once you start using the language, it will come automatically to you.

Use of vosotros vs ustedes. It is the same case as above but in the plural form. However, consider that in Latin American Spanish, the plural form is always ustedes. In Peninsular Spanish, you can use both. These forms of addressing will depend on who you are addressing, which you will learn as you speak in different groups and situations.

Leísmo. It is the substitution of the direct object pronoun lo/la for le. As in A Juan no le vi ayer (instead of using lo). This normally happens in Peninsular Spanish.

Pronunciation of ce-ci. Often called seseo, refers to the pronunciation of those syllables as with the s sound (emosión). Peninsular Spanish pronounces them as the sound th in English (emothión). This might sound like a lisp to you, but it is not; it is a valid sound.

So, which Spanish will you choose?

So, the differences do not say much to you, right? It is because they are not really important, especially knowing that you can be understood in any country despite the dialectal differences. Nevertheless, here are some tips that can guide you in choosing the variety of Spanish you want to learn. Remember, they are based solely on your interests, not on the fact that one could be better than the other.

  • The main advice is that if you are going to use Spanish in Europe, you should learn Spanish from Spain, and the opposite for Latin America.
  • Some writers say that Latin American Spanish is easier for beginners, even some regions/countries within America (e.g. Central America, Colombia, Ecuador) are easier than others.
  • Your ultimate learning of any type of Spanish will depend on the dedication and time you put into learning the language (see our article on How long does it take to learn Spanish?)

Learning Spanish online gives you lots of advantages and provides opportunities for you to interact with people from different regions across continents, besides learning at your own pace (See our article on How to learn Spanish at home). No matter which Spanish you choose, we, at the CLI, hope that you consider learning Spanish from us keeping in mind that there is no better Spanish than the other, there are only different dialects.

Posted by mikebastin

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