Differences between Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish

We have already established there are several varieties of Spanish throughout the Hispanosphere. Of course, a native speaker will understand all of them, but for a new learner it might seem confusing. So, what are the real differences between Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish?

Spanish Latin America and Spain SpanishUstedes vs Vosotros.

This is one of the most well known differences between Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish.

Castilian has two plural forms for the English “you”, vosotros and ustedes. And in Spain, both are used. Vosotros is the top choice for informal conversations, while ustedes is used only in a few formal contexts. But not in Latin America. Latin American speakers only use ustedes and don’t conjugate the verb for vosotros.

Usted vsvs Vos

Following the last point, it should not come as a surprise to you that usted is reserved for only a handful of very formal situations in Spain. Instead, is acceptable in most conversations.

In Latin America, however, usted is much more commonly heard. Once people start getting comfortable with you, they might invite you to use the form, which is reserved for friends and family. But in some countries, like Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay is replaced by vos.


Every language, even the ones spoken on smaller countries, have variations on their pronunciation. It shouldn’t be surprising that Spanish, which is spoken all over the world, has many accents. Thus, phenomena like seseo and ceceo are one of main differences between Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish.

Seseo is common in Latin America, and it means that the letters c and z are read like a “th”. Some read the s as a “th” as well, a practice known as ceceo. Most people in Spain make the distinction between these three sounds, with the exception of a few speakers in the South. However, Spanish immigrants to Latin American were disproportionately from this region.

The use of seseo is also common in Galician, a close relative spoken in the region of Galicia. This region was the birthplace of many immigrants as well, which means seseo in Latin American Spanish may actually have its origins in Galician too.

Coche or carro

What would you call this?

Vocabulary Changes

Vocabulary changes make up for the trickiest differences between Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish. Some words cease to exist altogether, while others gain vehttps://www.spanishgurus.com/blog/how-to-say-car-computer-pen-spanish/ry different meanings. Here are some examples:

Coche [car] is by far the most common word in Spain. In Latin America auto/automóvil and carro are used instead. So remember when we discussed Neutral Spanish? The word most speakers will understand is automóvil. For buses, you will also hear several designations in Latin America, which makes bus the safest option.

Many other words related to transportation change. Another example would be conducir/manejar (drive). In Spain, the word manejar also exists, but with a different meaning, managing.

Some everyday words you should keep an eye out for are ordenador/computadora (computer), móvil/celular (cell phone); nevera/refrigerador (fridge), melocotón/durazno (peach) and gafas/anteojos (glasses).

You should also watch out for the word coger. In Spain Spanish, it simply means take or fetch. Take a cab, for example. But in Latin American Spanish it refers to a physical act of love (or should we say pasión?)


Isn’t this paella super guay?

Idiomatic expressions

Idiomatic expressions change from region to region even within the same country. You should expect every country in Latin America to have them, so it is a bit unfair to say there are only difference between Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish.

In Spain, the words guay and chulo mean that something is cool and nice. But in Latin America, they carry no meaning. Instead, you will hear chido or padre in Mexico, bacano in Colombia and copado in Argentina.

Is this all?

No, not really. The culture of the Spanish speaking countries is so rich that many other differences between Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish could be pointed out. Stay tuned to our blog to learn more about them!