If you are learning Spanish using books, apps, and other materials, you may have noticed some slight discrepancies in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The reason for this is the difference between Spanish used in Mexico and Spanish used in Spain. The following are several distinctions that you should be aware of when you communicate with Spanish speakers, no matter what proficiency level you’re at.
Learning the difference between Mexican Spanish and Spain Spanish vocabulary will ensure that you are understood. Here are a few important words and phrases to remember:
- “Glasses” in Mexico are lentes but in Spain are gafas.
- “Car” in Spain is most commonly coche, whereas in Mexico, you can use coche, carro, or auto.
- The word for “computer” in Mexican Spanish is very similar to the English: computadora. However, in Spain the word is ordenador.
- If you notice peaches for sale in Mexico, they will be labeled as duraznos. In Spain, the same fruits are melocotones.
- “Potato” in Spain is patata and in Mexico papa.
- “Remote control” literally translates to the Mexican Spanish control remoto. However, in Spain, the same object is called mando a distancia.
- “Pen” is bolígrafo in Spain but pluma in Mexico — the same word as for feather.
One of the most basic aspects of learning a language is developing the correct pronunciation, and it can be quite confusing to hear the same words pronounced differently by native speakers. One of the biggest pronunciation differences between the two languages are in z and c before an i or e. This sounds like s in Mexico, but “th”in Spain, for example, Barcelona. Additionally, Spanish from Spain tends to be more guttural, due to its Arabic influences, whereas Mexican Spanish is softer.
See Also: Infographic: Spanish Dialects
In Spanish, there are two forms of the second-person singular — formal and informal. The formal second-person singular uses exactly the same conjugations as the third-person singular.
In Spain, there are also two forms for the second-person plural: vosotros for informal and ustedes for formal; however, in Mexico, there is no second-person informal — you always use ustedes. Kids learn vosotros in school but never use it for more than understanding things like movies and literature from Spain. This is good news if you are learning Mexican Spanish, as you will have little need for vosotros. However, if you want to speak with people in Spain, you should learn the additional Spanish conjugations.
4. Past Tenses
One last difference between Mexican Spanish and Spain Spanish is the use of the past tenses. Mexicans use the past and present perfect tenses much the same as you use them in English. However, the Spanish favor the present perfect and use it for all recently completed actions.
Here’s a handy cheat sheet for some common differences in Spanish vocabulary:
Of course, the best way to avoid confusion when it comes to the difference between Mexican Spanish and Spain Spanish is to learn with a private tutor. A qualified teacher can guide you along the way and provide study plans that can clear up any any doubts you may have. Good luck!