Hola! This article is looking at common questions about Spanish.
Are you looking to learn Spanish? Or are you just curious and want to learn more about the Spanish language?
When someone says they want to learn Spanish or go on holiday to Spain they think it’s quite straight forward. Then someone asks them are you going to learn Castellano or Español? And they’re not sure how to answer that. Or someone tells them that actually the people of San Sebastian speak Basque.
Well this article has been written to hopefully clear up some of the questions you might have about the Spanish language and it’s various dialects. I hope you find this useful and if you have any thoughts or suggestions, please tell us in the comments section below.
Common questions about the Spanish language
Why learn Spanish?
You’ve probably noticed more and more people are wanting to learn Spanish. It’s quickly becoming one of the most popular foreign languages and you might be wondering why.
- First of all Spanish is the language with the second most native speakers in the world, after Chinese.
- Secondly, as a romantic language, Spanish is a very easy language for English speakers to learn, with less irregular verbs than French
- Spanish culture is becoming more popular. As the latino culture penetrates the USA, we are finding ourselves exposed to more Spanish TV and music. It’s just pretty cool.
- Latin America’s economy is growing and more companies are looking to employ Spanish speakers.
Any language is useful to learn for all kinds of reasons. Why not learn an incredibly beautiful, popular and useful language.
What is the difference between Castellano and Español?
Castellano is the Spanish spoken in Spain and Español is the Spanish spoken in South and Central America. They differ through accent, some vocabulary and small differences in grammar but a speaker of Castellano can easily understand Español. They are essentially different dialects of the same language.
Here are some differences in vocabulary:
Castellano – Español
Coche – carro
Verduras – vegetales
Zumo – jugo
Differences in grammar:
Español tends to be more formal than Castellano with a greater use of the form ‘usted.’ Also in Latin America they don’t tend to use ‘vosotros’ and instead use the plural form of ‘ustedes.’ Which makes it easier for remembering your conjugations, but personally I’m a fan of ‘vosotros.’
The Spanish lisp!
The biggest difference between Castellano and Español is that the Spanish make a lisp noise with their soft ‘c’ sounds. The origin of this is said to be due to a Spanish King who had a lisp and his court did not want to embarrass him so they adopted the Spanish lisp. As this happened after the Spanish speaking countries had formed in Latin America, the lisp did not carry over the Atlantic.
But remember, even among the Latin American countries you will find some differences with accents, vocabulary and grammar.
Which type of Spanish should I learn?
That’s really up to you? Whichever Spanish you choose you will still be able to communicate with Spanish speakers from other Spanish countries.
Your decisions might be based on where you live or where you’re planning to live, where you plan to look for work, your access to both forms of Spanish or just which one you think sounds nicer.
Obviously more people speak Español but if you’re from Germany and you’re never planning on going to Latin America then maybe Castellano is for you.
For an in depth look at decided which Spanish you should choose to learn you can read our article on it here.
Common questions about Spanish from Spain
Let’s start with some common questions about Spanish from Spain.
Do different regions in Spain speak different languages?
The short answer to this is yes they do!
I have met several people who have been planning a trip to somewhere like Barcelona and have been surprised to find out that people there speak Catalan.
There are in fact four official languages of Spain: Spanish (Castellano), Catalan, Basque and Galician, with different regions speaking different languages. Although in all of the regions, the majority of people can also speak Spanish. So if you are going on holiday to Bilbao, you don’t need to worry about learning the Basque language, you can manage with Spanish.
Catalan and Galician are very common to Spanish as they all come from the same language family. They all originated from latin and belong to the romance family. If both speakers are patient and speak clearly, it is possible for a Castellano speaker to understand someone speaking Catalan even though they’re different languages.
However Basque is a completely different language. It did not originate from latin, it doesn’t belong the romance family and the only words it shares with the other languages of Spain are modern day loan words. In fact, no one actually knows where the Basque language originated. It’s origins are a mystery.
What’s the difference between Catalan and Valencian?
So you’ve heard of Catalan but what’s Valencian? Is there a difference and if so what’s the difference?
Catalan is the language spoken in the Catalan region of Spain, and mainly in Barcelona. Valencian is a form of Catalan that is spoken in Valencia.
It really depends on who you talk to on whether these are two separate languages or not. Essentially they are different dialects of the same language, but with the growing independence movement in Barcelona, there are more and more people who will say these two languages are different. But, if you had two people and one was speaking Catalan and the other was speaking Valencian they would be able to understand each other.
An interesting difference between these two dialects is the use of them. In Barcelona, everyone can speak both Catalan and Castellano, with Catalan being the main language for the majority of people. Where as in Valencia, Castellano seems to be the main language, and not all people from Valencia can still speak Valencian. Or if they can, it’s not to a level of comfortable fluency. Valencian tends to be spoken more among the older generation and in small towns.
Common questions about Spanish from Latin America
Now let’s look at some common questions about Spanish from Latin America
I’ve heard Argentinian is difficult to understand?
Yes the Argentinian accent is more difficult to understand than other regions of Latin America.
I have heard Spanish people describing Argentinian as sounding like a mix between the Spanish language and an Italian accent. In fact a lot of Spanish people say they find this accent incredibly attractive.
The only problem is, for people learning Spanish or non native speakers the accent can be incredibly difficult to understand.
One big difference is the pronunciation of ‘ll.’ In other Spanish speaking countries this makes a ‘y’ sound, but in Argentina it makes a ‘sh’ sound.
Questions about learning Spanish
What films can I watch to improve my Spanish?
Our top two recommendations would be Volver and Roma. Check out the trailers below:
What books can I read to improve my Spanish?
We would recommend reading graded readers to help you improve your Spanish. Graded readers are a great way to read a book that’s suited to your level but is still interesting.
Check out our favourite graded readers on amazon.
What is the official Spanish language test?
The DELE tests the four major language skills: listening, writing, speaking and reading.
It uses the European framework to determine your level:
- A1 – A2 = beginner
- B1 – B2 = intermediate
- C1 – C2 = advanced
Read about Leah’s experience taking the DELE here.
How do I prepare for the DELE?
You can prepare for the DELE exam by practising all four language skills, immersing yourself in Spanish and working your way through each level to make sure you’ve mastered the topics and grammar points.
Have a look at our recommend DELE textbooks here.
What online resources can I use to improve my Spanish?
StudySpanish is a great free online resource that explains Spanish grammar points in detail starting with A1 Spanish all the way through to C2 Spanish. It also provides exercises at the end of each explanation so you can practise what you’ve learnt.
SpanishDict is a really useful app to have, especially if you’re in Spain and wanting to speak but you can’t remember the word for something. It’s our favourite available online dictionary and not just for it’s array of words. It’s also a great tool if you can’t remember the conjugation for something. If has all the different forms of the verbs and it’s a very useful tool to use. Just like StudySpanish, SpanishDict also has practise exercises so you can test yourself as you learn.
I hope these common questions about Spanish have helped you to understand the Spanish language a bit better.
This website is dedicated to helping you with your language learning needs, so if you have any other questions about Spanish or you want us to elaborate on some of our answers, please let us know in the comments below and we will do so.