Differences Between South American Spanish and Spain Spanish

As one of the United Nation’s official languages, Spanish is the third widely spoken language around the world next to English and Chinese. Millions of language students also study how to read, write and speak Spanish. Just liike other major languages, there are some variations notably the Spanish spoken in Spain and that of Latin America.

Spanish spoken in Spain is called Castellano or Castilian from the Spanish region of Castille where it originated while the Latin American Spanish is called Espaňol. Spanish spread to Latin American and other parts of the world as far as Asia due to colonisation.

Here are some differences between South American and Spain Spanish


 Spanish speakers from Spain have a different accent compared to those coming from Mexico and other parts of Latin America but the difference is not that significant. The main difference of the two Spanish variations in terms of pronunciation is how they pronounce the letter “c” and “ll”.

When the letter “c” comes before “i” and “e”, it is pronounced as “th” in Castilian while in Espaňol it is pronounce as “s”. Example is the different pronunciation of “gracias” (thank you) between the two Spanish languages. The same with “z” as in zapatos (shoes), it is pronounced with the “th” sound as “THA-paah-tos” in Castilian. Castilian Spanish also pronounces “ll” as “y” like “yam” while Latin American Spanish pronounce it as “j”.


Grammatical difference of the Spanish variations can be seen in the plural informal pronoun  “vosotro”. Vosotros which is the plural second person pronounce for “” is only used in Castilian Spanish. Latin American Spanish use the plural word “ustedes” instead. In Spain, “” which is informal is widely spoken while in Latin America the formal form “usted” is preferred.

Vocabulary, Phrases and Slang

In general, Spanish words are the same for both variations. Difference in vocabulary is just the same  as that of American and British English. “To take in something” is “tomar” in Latin American Spanish while it is “coger” in Castilian ( “coger” is slang in Espaňol which means “ to have sex with”). Sometimes a Spanish word have different meanings – example,  tortilla in Spain is an omelette while in Mexico, it’s a flat bread and caro is just a cart in Spain but in Latin America it can also mean as an automobile.

 The main distinction between the two is that Latin American Spanish due to its close proximity to the US has many English loan words. An example is the word for “computer” in Latin American Spanish, it is “la computadora” while in Castillian it is “el ordenador”.

 Phrases and slang even varies within a specific Spanish variation like Spanish spoken in Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay and in different regions within Spain. With slang, it is more colloquial in nature which means that it is highly localised. The difference between Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish is just like the differences of German, English, Chinese and French among its speakers.