Castilian Spanish vs. Latin American Spanish: Which one is better to learn?

¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? 

Are you ready to take your Spanish to the next level? If you are trying to learn this language, you might have noticed there are some differences in speech and grammar from country to country. You can find a variety of dialects, accents in Spain and all over Latin America as well as local sayings, indigenous expressions and a variety of vocabulary.

In Spain, the Spanish language is called castellano, which refers to the Castile province in central Spain where the language has its origins, however, in Latin American countries, the Spanish language is called español and each country of the region has its own colloquial expressions and accents.

Today we want to talk about the most important factors that should be considered when learning Spanish and the differences between them.


The first factor that stands out in the Spanish language is the grammar. One of the main differences between Castilian and Spanish from Latin America, is the past perfect and simple past.

Castilian Spanish uses the past perfect tense when describing recent actions, for example, “He jugado todo el dia hoy” (I played all day today). However, in Latin America, the simple past tense is often used when talking about recent actions so it would be “Jugué todo el dia hoy’.


The greatest difference you might hear in Spanish from Latin America and Castilian from Spain is  the pronunciation of the /Z/ and /C/ before I or E. In Latin America, both letters are pronounced as /S/ while in Spain they are pronounced like the English /th/ sound

Here are some example words that you can listen to in both Castilian and Spanish.


Another important difference is the emphasis in the letters /G/ and /J/. In Spain you might hear a more guttural sound (the harsh-sound produced with the throat, similar to the snoring sound) from these letters whether in Spanish from Latin America the sound is softer and similar - similar to the sound of /G/ and /J/ in the English language


In some parts of Latin America such as Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay the double /LL/and /Y/ sounds are pronounced like an english /SH/ sound, while other Spanish speakers would pronounce it as a /Y/ sound.


There is a great variety of different accents within Spain and within each country in Latin America. As in other countries in the world, people might speak differently from city to city and add a new ingredient to the sounds. 

However we would like to highlight the most common accent peculiarities.


Strong consonants 

In Spain there are clear differences between the sounds of /C/,/S/ and /Z/ sounds and those determine most of the castilian accents. Also the strong sound on /G/ and /J/. Spaniards also use “Vosotros”  and “Vosotras” (you plural form) 

Latin America 

Dropping final sounds

You might hear words that end in /S/ where the /S/ sound is dropped. For example vamos (let’s go) would be pronounced vamo instead. 

Elongated vowels

You might also hear in some regions elongated vowels in the accents. For instance, in Colombia the word en serio (really) might be pronounced enseeeerioooo with a sustained vowel soft sound. 


The good news about learning Spanish is that no matter which one you pick, if it's Castilian or Spanish from Latin America, you will be able to understand others. However, there are some concepts that mean the same thing but each country might use different words.

Here are some examples: 

  • A cell phone in Spain is móvil and celular in Latin America 
  • A pen is called bolígrafo or boli in Spain and a pluma or lapicero in Latin America
  • A car is coche in Spain and carro or auto in Latin America
  • To drive is conducir in Spain and manejar in Latin America
  • Juice in Spain is zumo and jugo in Latin America
  • A computer in Spain is called ordenador and computador in Latin America 
  • A potato in Spain is called patata and papa in Latin America 
  • A cake in Spain is called tarta and pastel in Latin America
  • Glasses is gafas in both regions, however in Mexico people say lentes

Our recommendation is to pick one and commit to it when you are learning.  Remember to download our FREE app and practice with our AI tutors. We offer Castilian and Mexican Spanish.