You might think Spanish sounds the same and is spoken the same way everywhere, but there are many differences and subtle nuances you can observe between Spain Spanish and, well, Everywhere Else Spanish. Beyond just the categorical differences between European and Latin American Spanish, there are also a ton of regionalisms that distinguish the Spanish spoken in various countries — even the ones that are geographically close to one another.
Let’s get complicated and delve into the differences between the varieties of Spanish spoken in Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Argentina.
Accent And Pronunciation
In Spain, Z usually sounds like “th”; the same goes for a C when it comes before an E or an I. In Latin America, Z sounds like an S, and so does C before an E or I.
And what do people in the Caribbean and parts of southern Spain do to the letter R? They kick it to the curb and turn it into an L!
In parts of Argentina and Uruguay, the “ll” in words like llamar, lloro and lluvia is not pronounced like an English Y (like in Spain and the rest of Latin America), but instead like a “sh.”
In the Spanish language, there is a marked difference between the informal tú and the formal usted when addressing someone, with tú used almost everywhere. But only in Spain will you find a difference in the plural with the informal vosotros and the formal ustedes. In Latin America, only ustedes is used.
In Spain Spanish
¿Vosotros tenéis ganas de salir?
(Do you all want to go out?)
In Latin American Spanish
¿Ustedes tienen ganas de salir?
(Do you all want to go out?)
The different continents also use different past tenses.
Hoy no he desayunado.
(I haven’t eaten breakfast today.)
In Latin America
Hoy no desayuné.
(I didn’t eat breakfast today.)
The differences between various regional versions of Spanish are not only linguistic. When you greet people in different countries, learn the local customs! Don’t get into a confrontation by accidentally disrespecting someone.
Women: greet everyone with a kiss on either cheek.
Men: greet women with a kiss on either cheek, and greet other men with a handshake.
In Mexico & Colombia
Women: greet everyone with one kiss on the cheek.
Men: greet women with one kiss on the cheek, and give men a handshake.
Both men and women greet with one kiss on the cheek.
Depending on which country you find yourself in, you will be confronted with different names for the same:
Puerto Rico & D.R.: guagua
Spain: bolígrafo or just boli
Latin America: departamento or apartamento
Latin America: celular
Latin America: computadora or computador
Spain: tener resaca
Mexico: tener cruda
Colombia: tener guayabo
Chile: tener caña
Spain: esto mola
Mexico: está chido
Dominican Republic: eto tá
Puerto Rico: está chévere
Colombia: está bacano
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