Spanish is ranked as the world's second most popular spoken language and is used worldwide. Also, it is sometimes referred to as Espanol or Castellano – these labels vary regionally and politically.
Did you know that there are ten spoken dialects of Spanish? The language is spoken in countries outside of Spain, and they have all influenced the language in their way.
Additionally, Spain itself has a rich cultural history that spans across wars, borders, and centuries!
Therefore, if you are contemplating learning Spanish or have just started taking Spanish classes, you will notice some discrepancies. This is because of a dialectical difference between Spain Spanish and Mexican Spanish.
If you're in the process of learning, you will get confused when you come across differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, spellings, and grammar.
And you need to be aware of these differences if you plan to learn Mexican Spanish!
Read on as we chart out differences between both dialects:
Why is Mexican Spanish Different?
The Spanish spoken in Mexico is different from the Spanish spoken in the rest of the world. This can be attributed to Mexico's unique geographical position.
Mexico shares a border with the United States as well as with Russia. As a result, American English has influenced the way people speak the language in North America.
Furthermore, the Swedish linguist, Bertil Malmberg, states that Mexican Spanish is softer, loses its vowels, and emphasizes consonants. It is a way to preserve indigenous culture and make the language understandable for travelers from the United States and other parts of the world.
Mexican Spanish also has its internal variations, with dialects varying between socio-economic classes and different countries.
Now that we understand why Mexican Spanish is slightly different, let's look at these differences:
Mexican Spanish has adopted some dialect from the Aztecs' language (the Nahuatl origin), so it has developed different linguistic characteristics and vocabulary.
It is important to know this difference in vocabulary. For example, in Spain, the expression "coger" means "to take something." Like if someone wants to take a taxi in Spain, they're likely to say "voy a coger un taxi" (I am going to take a taxi).
However, the same word, "coger" in Mexican Spanish means "to have sex." In order to avoid such misunderstandings, it is very important to understand this difference.
Here are a few basic differences in vocabulary for you to learn:
- Potato in Spain is referred to as patata, but as papa in Mexico
- Soft drink is referred to as a "gaseosa" in Spain while it is called a "soda" in Mexico
- Car in Spain is commonly referred to as a coche, but in Mexican Spanish, it can be called coche, carro, or even an auto (derived from parts of the American language)
The best way to keep track of your Spanish lessons is to keep a journal.
When you go to the grocery store to buy vegetables, list down each vegetable in different Spanish dialects to understand the difference.
You can also ask your Spanish teacher online to provide you with a book that translates words from your language into Mexican Spanish and vice versa.
One of the most frustrating things you may encounter when taking Spanish lessons is hearing different instructors pronounce the same word differently.
And while a one-on-one conversation gives you enough time to contemplate the spoken words, hearing a conversation between two native speakers may confuse you.
To ease that frustration, we will give you a few basic differences between these two dialects of Spanish so you can seamlessly get through your Mexican Spanish course.
One of the easiest ways to distinguish between Mexican Spanish, Spain Spanish, and Caribbean Spanish is to pay close attention to how each person pronounces their's', 'c,' 'z' and 'LL.' The 'c' is pronounced as "s" in Mexican Spanish. On the other hand, it is "th" in Spain.
For example, the word gracias - even though it's spelled the same way - is pronounced as grathias in Spain and grasias in Mexico.
Additionally, Mexican Spanish tends to be softer to pronounce, whereas Spanish from Spain is more guttural due to its Arabic influences.
Furthermore, watching Spanish movies is a great way to help you get better at pronunciation in your Mexican Spanish courses.
The academy award-nominated film "Y Tu Mama Tambien" features two protagonists speaking different Spanish dialects, so this movie can help you understand different native accents if you pay attention.
One of the biggest differences between Mexican Spanish and Spain Spanish is formal and informal language.
In Spain, the formal language is called Ustedes, and the informal way of language is called Vosotros.
This means that when speaking with a group of friends or somebody close, you can use informal (Vosotros) language, like saying "WhatsUp" instead of how you are you?
Similarly, when speaking to an elderly group of people, someone you don't know, or someone you wish to show respect, the formal (Ustedes) way of conversing shows manners and obedience.
On the other hand, Mexican Spanish does not require these differentiations, and one should always use Usteded to refer to anyone, friend, or adult.
For example, How are you in Spain Spanish would be “Hola, chicos! Cómo estáis” while in Mexican Spanish it would be “Hola, chicos! Cómo están?”
The use of pronouns and how one refers to people is also slightly different in Mexico and Spain. In Mexico, the direct pronoun "lo" is used with everything, whereas, in Spain, the indirect pronoun "le" is used.
- Spain: A Santiago no levi ayer
- Mexico: A Santiago no lovi ayer
Another important thing to remember is that "le" is never used to refer to a woman or a group of people. However, Mexican Spanish uses one pronoun to refer to both masculine and feminine verbs.
Spanish is one of the world's most eloquent languages when it comes to phonetics.
One standard Spanish rule goes: If you can spell it, you can pronounce it (although the reverse isn't always true!). However, once again, there are two exceptions:
- The addition of new words from foreign origin
- And words that contain "s" and "z" since Mexican Spanish has more pronounced consonants, but Spanish-speaking people in Spain pronounce consonants as "th."
How Can I Gain Fluency In Mexican Spanish?
The best way to gain fluency in any foreign language is to practice! The more you write, talk, watch foreign-language movies, and converse in these languages, the better you'll become.
Additionally, it is important to understand the origins and cultural influences on these languages. It will be easier to pick apart different variations and dialects once you familiarize yourself with how they were made.
Here is a piece on the best resources to learn Mexican Spanish!
How Do You Decide Which Spanish Dialect You Should Choose To Learn?
Firstly, think about why you're taking Spanish lessons. Once you know your goals, it will be easier to answer this question.
Since Spanish has various dialects, all according to specific regions, you should know which part of the world you will need to converse in.
For example, if you're hoping to work in a Spanish restaurant and want to add some final touches to your Spanish culinary vocabulary, you should opt for Spanish spoken in Spain.
However, suppose you're planning to work for an organization where most of the population is from the Dominican Republic. In that case, it is better to be fluent in Mexican Spanish.
Generally, Americans tend to learn Mexican Spanish over Spain Spanish due to the similarities with the English language. In contrast, people from Europe tend to prefer Spanish spoken in Central Spain.
Regardless of these differences, if you're a beginner, 90% of the Spanish you'll be learning will be the same. If you are enjoying your Spanish classes and your Spanish teacher makes your courses fun and engaging, there is no doubt that you can become fluent in a matter of time!
Are you a foreign language enthusiast and want to perfect your Spanish?
Or are you still struggling to understand different dialects and Spanish accents?
If you want to be a Spanish speaking pro, contact Superprof today! We have dedicated, experienced professional linguists who make sure to make you fluent in Spanish and make sure that you easily distinguish between different dialects!