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A Few Outstanding Differences between Castilian and Latin American Spanish

What are some differences between Castilian Spanish from Spain and Latin American Spanish? As with North American and British English, there are many more similarities than differences, and Spanish speakers from all countries can usually understand one another in spite of differences between continents, countries, and even regions. That said, this lesson will point out a few key differences between Castilian and Latin American Spanish that might aid your understanding of and/or communication with different Spanish speakers. 

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Pronunciation

You may have noticed that the letters "c" and "z" are pronounced with a "th" sound in Castilian Spanish in order to distinguish them from the letter "s." Let's take a look:

 

Muchas gracias.

Thank you very much.

Caption 88, Ana Teresa Canales energéticos

 Play Caption

 

Although it sounds like Ana Teresa from Spain says "grathias," you will note that there is no difference in the pronunciation of the "c" and the "s" in Latin American Spanish. To confirm this, let's hear Ana Carolina from Ecuador pronounce this same word:

 

Muchas gracias por acompañarnos hoy;

Thank you very much for joining us today;

Caption 37, Ana Carolina El comedor

 Play Caption

 

Yabla's Carlos and Xavi provide a lot more examples of this pronunciation difference in this video about the difference in pronunciation between Spain and Colombia

 

Vosotros/as vs. Ustedes

Spanish speakers from both Spain and Latin America tend to address a single person formally with the pronoun usted and use (or vos in certain Latin American countries and/or regions) in more familiar circumstances. However, Castilian Spanish additionally makes this distinction for the second person plural forms: they formally address more than one person as ustedes and employ vosotros/as, along with its unique verb conjugations, in less formal ones. Let's look at an example with this unique-to-Spain pronoun. 

 

Practicáis un poco vosotros ahora.

You guys practice a bit now.

Caption 105, Clase Aula Azul El verbo gustar - Part 5

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Most Latin American speakers, on the other hand, do not use vosotros/as and instead use ustedes to address more than one person, regardless of whether the situation is formal or informal.

 

O sea menos que los... -No, ustedes tienen que hacer dos acompañamientos

I mean less than the... -No, you guys have to make two side dishes

Caption 68, Misión Chef 2 - Pruebas - Part 8

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Although the teacher in this video, who is from Mexico, refers to his individual students with the informal prounoun , as a group, he refers to them as ustedes. For more information about the pronouns vosotros/as and ustedes, we recommend Carlos' video Ustedes y vosotros.

 

Use of Present Perfect vs. Preterite 

Another difference you might notice when speaking to someone from Spain is the more prevalent use of the present perfect tense (e.g. "I have spoken," "we have gone," etc.) to describe things that happened in the recent past in cases in which both Latin Americans and English speakers would more likely use the simple past/preterite. Let's first take a look at a clip from Spain:

 

Oye, ¿ya sabes lo que le ha pasado a Anastasia? No, ¿qué le ha pasado?

Hey, do you know what has happened to Anastasia? No, what has happened to her?

Captions 4-5, El Aula Azul Conversación: Un día de mala suerte

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Now, let's look at one from Argentina:

 

¿Pero qué le pasó?

But what happened to her?

Caption 92, Muñeca Brava 43 La reunión - Part 5

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While the speakers in both videos use the same verb, pasar (to happen), to describe events that took place that same day, note that the speaker from Spain chooses the present perfect ha pasado (has happened), which would be less common in both Latin American Spanish and English, while the Argentinean speaker opts for the preterite pasó (happened). 

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Vocabulary

There are many terms that are said one way in Spain and a totally different way in Latin America (with a lot of variation between countries, of course!). Although there are too many to name, Yabla has put together our top ten list of English nouns and verbs whose translations differ in Spain and Latin America. 

 

1. Car: El coche vs. el carro/auto 

Spanish speakers from Spain tend to use the word coche for "car":

 

Hoy vamos a repasar cómo alquilar un coche.

Today we are going to go over how to rent a car.

Caption 2, Raquel Alquiler de coche

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Although the word carro would instead refer to a "cart" or "carriage" to Spaniards, this is the word most commonly used to say "car" in many countries in Latin America:

 

Recójalas allí en la puerta y tenga el carro listo, hermano.

Pick them up there at the door and have the car ready, brother.

Caption 54, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 2 - Part 4

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Auto is another common Latin American word for "car":

 

El auto amarillo está junto al dinosaurio.

The yellow car is next to the dinosaur.

Caption 18, Ana Carolina Preposiciones de lugar

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2. To Drive: Conducir vs. manejar

And speaking of cars, while the verb conducir is the most typical way to say "to drive" in Spain, Latin Americans are more likely to utter manejar. Let's compare a clip from Spain to one from Colombia:

 

Ahora os vamos a dar algunos consejos que nos ayudarán a conocer mejor nuestro coche y a conducirlo.

Now we are going to give you some advice that will help us get to better know our car and how to drive it.

Captions 2-4, Raquel y Marisa Aprender a conducir - Part 2

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Usted sabe que para mí manejar de noche es muy difícil por mi problema de la vista.

You know that for me, driving at night is very difficult because of my vision problem.

Captions 50-51, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 2

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3. To Take: Coger vs. tomar

When listening to someone from Spain speak about "taking" or "grabbing" something, from the bus to an everyday object, you are likely to hear the verb coger:

 

Puedes coger el autobús.

You can take the bus.

Caption 6, Marta Los Modos de Transporte

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While you may occasionally hear coger in this context in some Latin American countries, it is less common and, in fact, even considered vulgar in some places. Hence the more common way to say this throughout Latin America is tomar.

 

Te vas a ir a tomar un taxi

You are going to go take a taxi

Caption 7, Yago 12 Fianza - Part 1

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4. Computer: El ordenador vs. la computadora

Let's check out some captions from Spain to find out the word for "computer" there:

 

Puede hacer uso del ordenador con el nombre de usuario y la contraseña que he creado para usted. 

You can make use of the computer with the username and the password that I have created for you.

Captions 23-24, Negocios Empezar en un nuevo trabajo - Part 2

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And now, let's see a video from Mexico to hear the most prevalent term for "computer" throughout Latin America:

 

El uso de las computadoras y el internet forman parte de la educación de los estudiantes 

The use of computers and the internet are part of the students' education

Captions 38-39, Aprendiendo con Karen Útiles escolares - Part 2

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5. Juice: El zumo vs. el jugo

Not only can we hear the Castilian Spanish word for "juice" in this clip, but also the aforementioned "th" pronunciation of the "z":

 

Sí, un zumo de naranja.

Yes, an orange juice.

Caption 26, Raquel Presentaciones

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Latin Americans, in contrast, usually call juice jugo:

 

Y jugo de naranja y jugo de manzana.

And orange juice and apple juice.

Caption 23, Cleer y Lida El regreso de Lida

 Play Caption

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6. Peach: El melocotón vs. el durazno

Many fruits and vegetables have different names in different countries, and one such example is peaches, which are called melocotones in Spain and duraznos in Latin America. Let's hear these words in action in videos from Spain and Colombia:

 

Macedonia de frutas. -Sí. Por ejemplo con melocotón

Fruit salad. -Yes. For example, with peach.

Captions 52-53, Recetas Tortilla

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Me volvió a gustar la compota de durazno 

I started liking peach baby food again,

Caption 4, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 7 - Part 1

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7. Apartment: El piso vs. el departamento/apartamento

Another set of words that differ significantly are the words for "apartment": piso in Spain and departamento or apartamento in Latin America, as we can see below in these videos from Spain and Argentina:

 

Vender un piso se ha puesto muy difícil,

Selling ​​an apartment has become very difficult,

Caption 39, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 1

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Tienes un lindo departamento, realmente. -Gracias.

You have a nice apartment, really. -Thank you.

Caption 27, Yago 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 3

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8. Cell phone: El móvil vs. el celular 

In Spain, you'll hear people talking about their moviles, or cell phones:

 

mi móvil funciona, normalmente.

my cell phone works, usually.

Caption 22, Clase Aula Azul Se involuntario - Part 1

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As we can hear in the following clip, Mexicans and other Latin Americans instead say celular

 

¡Eh! ¿Tienes tu celular?

Hey! Do you have your cell phone?

Caption 55, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 1: No tengo mi teléfono.

 Play Caption

 

9. Glasses: Las gafas vs. los lentes

Many articles of clothing are called different things in different countries, and "glasses" are no exception, as we see via examples from Spain and Mexico:

 

Tiene el pelo gris y lleva gafas.

He has gray hair and wears glasses.

Caption 30, El Aula Azul Adivina personajes famosos - Part 1

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También tienes unos lentes.

You also have some glasses.

Caption 13, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 1: No tengo mi teléfono.

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10. Socks: Los calcetines vs. las medias:

Let's conclude with the words for "socks" in Spain vs. Latin America, with videos from Spain and Venezuela:

 

Una chaqueta y unos calcetines también... calientes.

A jacket and some socks, too... warm ones.

Caption 25, Un Viaje a Mallorca Planificando el viaje

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Además, esos animales huelen peor que mis medias después de una patinata.

Besides, those animals smell worse than my socks after a skating spree.

Captions 10-11, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 11

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To hear even more examples of vocabulary that differs from Spain to Latin America, we recommend Carlos and Xavi's video on some differences in vocabulary between Spain and Colombia. We hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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Names of Fruits in Spanish

Let's talk about the various types of fruits in Spanish. Do you know how to say the names of fruits like "apple" or "peach" in Spanish? If you don't know, don't worry! In this lesson, we will find out how to spell and say the names of different fruits in Spanish. Of course, we can't talk about all of the fruits of the world, but we will cover many of the most popular ones with the following list of fruits in Spanish and English. Let's take a look!

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Pome Fruits in Spanish

 

Manzana (apple)

 

Una manzana roja.

A red apple.

Caption 32, Cleer y Lida Picnic

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Pera (pear)

 

La palabra "pera" tiene dos sílabas:

The word "pera" [pear] has two syllables:

Caption 11, Lara enseña Tildes - Part 1

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Stone Fruits in Spanish

 

Albaricoque (apricot)

 

Lo único que, en vez de llevar mermelada de albaricoque,

The only one that, instead of having inside apricot jam,

Caption 29, Horno San Onofre El Chocolate

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Cereza (cherry)

 

A mí me recuerda... como si fuese una cereza.

It reminds me... as if it were a cherry.

Caption 58, Amaya Cata de vinos

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Ciruela (plum)

 

 

Durazno (peach)

 

Me volvió a gustar la compota de durazno

I started liking peach baby food again

Caption 4, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 7 - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

It is important to say that another Spanish term for the word "peach" is melocotón. This term is the prevalent term in Spain:

 

Por ejemplo con melocotón.

For example with peach.

Caption 53, Recetas Tortilla

 Play Caption

 

 

Nectarina (nectarine)

 

 

Citrus Fruits in Spanish

 

Lima (lime)

 

una lima, y se utilizan mucho para una bebida

a lime, and are used a lot for a drink

Caption 21, Otavalo Julia nos muestra las verduras

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Limón (lemon)

 

con un poco de sal y limón

with a bit of salt and lemon

Caption 14, Ana Carolina Receta para una picada

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Mandarina (tangerine)

 

Aquí están las mandarinas.

Here are tangerines.

Caption 75, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

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Naranja (orange)

 

saben a naranja.

taste like orange.

Caption 34, Ariana Cita médica

 Play Caption

 

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Gourd Family Fruits in Spanish

 

Melón (melon)

 

Ahora le vamos a poner un poquito de melón.

Now we're going to add a little melon.

Caption 19, Desayuno Puerto Escondido Frutas

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Sandía (watermelon)

 

Le vamos a poner... sandía,

We're going to put... watermelon,

Caption 3, Desayuno Puerto Escondido Frutas

 Play Caption

 

 

Berries in Spanish

 

Fresa (strawberry)

 

Y me comí un heladito de fresa porque me daba antojos.

And I ate a strawberry ice cream because I was craving it.

Caption 14, Los médicos explican Consulta con el médico: la diarrea

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Frambuesa (raspberry)

 

lleva una mermelada natural de frambuesa

it has inside an organic raspberry jam

Caption 30, Horno San Onofre El Chocolate

 Play Caption

 

 

Mora (blackberry)

 

La mora es mi fruta favorita.

The blackberry is my favorite fruit.

Caption 59, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

 Play Caption

 

 

Kiwi (kiwi)

 

 

Uva (grape)

 

Estas son las uvas.

These are grapes.

Caption 22, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

 Play Caption

 

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Tropical and Exotic Fruits in Spanish

 

Banano (banana)

 

Esto es el banano o plátano.

This is the banana or plantain.

Caption 38, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

 Play Caption

 

As you saw in the video clip, this fruit is also known in some regions as the plátano. However, keep in mind that the word plátano can also refer to the plantain:

 

Por último, procedemos a freír el tradicional plátano venezolano,

Lastly, we proceed to fry the traditional Venezuelan plantains,

Caption 75, Recetas de cocina Pabellón criollo

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Coco (coconut)

 

El agua de coco es muy nutritiva y además te calma mucho la sed.

Coconut water is very nutritious and plus it quenches your thirst a lot.

Caption 84, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

 Play Caption

 

 

Granadilla (passion fruit)

 

Esta es una granadilla.

This is a passion fruit.

Caption 40, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

 Play Caption

 

 

Guanábana (soursop)

 

Se llama guanábana

It's called soursop

Caption 28, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

 Play Caption

 

 

Guayaba (guava)

 

Esto se llama guayaba.

This is called guava.

Caption 54, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

 Play Caption

 

 

Mango (mango)

 

Este es el mango.

This is mango.

Caption 21, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

 Play Caption

 

 

Papaya (papaya)

 

Son unas papayas chiquitas

They are small papayas

Caption 11, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

 Play Caption

 

 

Piña (pineapple)

 

piña en trocitos,

chunks of pineapple,

Caption 13, Cleer y Lida El regreso de Lida

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In addition to all of the fruits we have mentioned, we would like to add two more fruits that are often not treated as such:

 

Aguacate (avocado)

 

Vamos a conocer un poco sobre la historia del aguacate y sus beneficios.

We're going to find out a bit about the history of the avocado and its benefits.

Caption 3, Melyna El aguacate

 Play Caption

 

 

Tomate (tomato)

 

Por lo tanto, botánicamente hablando, el tomate es una fruta,

Therefore, botanically speaking, the tomato is a fruit

Captions 33-34, Fermín Ensalada de tomate

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List of fruits in Spanish and English

Now that we have seen how to write and pronounce the names of many important fruits in Spanish, we wanted to leave you with the following quick reference list of fruits in Spanish and English:

 

aguacate (avocado)

albaricoque (apricot)

banano (banana)

cereza (cherry)

ciruela (plum)

coco (coconut)

durazno (peach)

fresa (strawberry)

frambuesa (raspberry)

granadilla (passion fruit)

guanábana (soursop)

guayaba (guava)

kiwi (kiwi)

lima (lime)

limón (lemon)

mandarina (tangerine)

mango (mango)

manzana (apple)

melocotón (peach)

melón (melon)

mora (blackberry)

naranja (orange)

nectarina (nectarine)

papaya (papaya)

pera (pear)

piña (pineapple)

plátano (banana)

sandía (watermelon)

tomate (tomato)

uva (grape)

 

And that's all for this lesson. Before we go, we invite you to answer the following question: ¿Cuál es tu fruta preferida? We hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and we'd love for you to send us your suggestions and comments¡Hasta la próxima!

 

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