Español latinoamericano

Latin America Spanish

Spanish spoken in Latin American countries shows a lot of similarities to the Spanish spoken in the southern Spanish region of Andalucía and the Canary Islands, because of the predominant role of people from these regions during the conquest of the Americas. This is evident mainly in words that contain -s-, -c- ("soft c" that precedes -e- and -i-) and -z-, which would all be pronounced as -s-.

For example: casa (house) and caza (hunt) are both pronounced as "casa", with a -s- sound. This is typical of Andalucía and the Canary Islands. In central and northern parts of Spain they make the -z- sound (which sounds like the unvoiced "th" as in "thing" in English).

There is not only a difference in pronunciation but also in vocabulary. For example, many words inherited from the Arabs during their reign in Andalucía, that are part of the daily vocabulary in southern Spain, was also inherited by the Andalusian people who travelled and settled in the Americas. Therefore Arabic words like alhaja (jewel) or alcoba (bedroom) are still used in Latin America.

In terms of anglicisms, because of the direct influence they receive from the United States, Latin American vocabulary has more English words than Peninsular Spanish does. For example, one common word used in Latin America which is not generally used in Peninsular Spain is "computadora", adopted from the English word "computer", while in Spain the word "ordenador" is widely used. They also talk about "comprarse unos bluejeanes" meaning "to buy some jeans" whereas in Spain the word vaqueros is used for jeans.

And, of course, some words have also been borrowed from the indigenous languages in Latin America, which also vary from region to region.

One of the main differencies between Spanish spoken in Latin America and the Spanish peninsula is the use of voseo in the Latin America; however it only applies to the areas in and around the River Plate (Río de la Plata), i.e., Argentina and Uruguay, Eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, and Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, southern parts of Chiapas in Mexico). Voseo uses vos where peninsular Spanish uses  (informal "you" singular). Their conjugation is the same except for the present tense and the imperative.

For example:

English: Are you cold? 
Spanish from the peninsula: ¿Tú tienes frío?
Spanish rioplatense: ¿Vos tenés frío?

English: Come here!
Spanish from the peninsula: ¡Ven acá! ()
Spanish rioplatense: ¡Vení acá! (vos)

The other main difference between Spanish from the peninsula and Spanish from Latin America in terms of grammar is the use of ustedes where peninsular Spanish uses vosotros ("you" plural informal). Their conjugation also varies. Despite both being used as informal pronouns, the pronoun ustedes takes the endings of the third person plural (they), not vosotros. This is the same conjugation as European Spanish uses for these pronouns, which it uses in a formal context. So between Spanish American and European Spanish there is no difference in the construction, just in the context they are used in. Let's see some examples:

English: Would you like a drink?
Spanish from the peninsula: ¿Vosotros queréis algo de beber?
Spanish from Latin America: ¿Ustedes quieren algo de beber?

It is worth noting that Kwiziq Spanish currently focuses on peninsular Spanish, and there is testing on the vosotros form. However, in the future we plan to widen our scope so that you can select which type of Spanish you learn.

Related article: Español peninsular

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