See also Latin American Spanish

Spanish is a Romance language spoken by about 500 million people in most parts of South America, Spain and by many inhabitants in the USA. Spanish is the official language of Spain and 21 Latin American countries and an official language of the U.N. It is very closely related to Portuguese, and also similar to the other Romance languages.

Phonology Edit

Spanish is one of the most phonetic languages. Letters almost always stand for the same sounds. Only a few change pronunciation depending on the letters around them. 

Grammar Edit

Spanish has relatively straight forward grammar with fewer irregularities than English.

Verbs must be conjugated into past, present or future (tenses) and in various moods (ie. indicative, subjunctive). Some are reflexive, and although most verbs are regular, some of the most common ones are irregular.

Adjectives must agree with the noun they are describing. All nouns are either masculine or feminine. There are definite and indefinite articles

Orthography Edit

The Spanish alphabet is similar to that of any other Romance language. It contains the following letters: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, and z.

The letters 'k' and 'w' are rarely used (mostly reserved for foreign words) but still there.

The following digraph are also used: ch (as in English beach), ll (normally like Spanish y: between the English 'y' and 'j', although the pronunciation differs greatly from dialect to dialect), and rr (roll your tongue)

The letters 'b' and 'v' have the same sound (/b/); the English 'v' sound does not exist in almost all dialects.

The letter 'c' is pronounced /k/ except in front of 'e' and 'i', when it is pronounced like a Spanish 'z'. The 'z' can be pronounced either like the English 'th' in think (in most of the Iberian Peninsula) or like /s/. The letters 's' and 'z' are never pronounced /z/, always /s/.

Similarly, the letter 'g' is pronounced /g/ except in front of 'e' and 'i', when it is pronounced like the Spanish 'j': /x/ or /h/ depending on the dialect.

The 'h' is never pronounced, except in some foreign words.

The letter 'ñ' is pronounced similarly to 'ny' in "canyon", or as in "jalapeño".

The vowels do not have different sounds, besides accents. The letter 'a' is always /a/ (a cross between the 'a' in "father" and the 'a' in "cat"). O is always as in "no", but shorter. I is always pronounced as "ee." E as pronounced like the "a" in the English "fame", but shorter and without the dipthong. U is pronounced like the English digraph "oo."

There are rarely double letters in written Spanish, except for ll and rr, and sometimes cc (which sounds like the English x).

Common Obstacles and Pitfalls for Learners Edit

The Foreign Service Institute has classified Spanish as a "World" language. It is estimated that learning Spanish to a Professional Working Proficiency in the language (a score of Speaking-3/Reading-3 on the Interagency Language Roundtable scale) will take an average of 24 weeks (600 class hours).[1]

The Spanish REdit

It is sometimes hard for English speakers to roll their R's. The trick is practice, practice, practice! There are many videos on Youtube and articles on the Internet that try to explain how to do it.

False Friends (Falsos amigos)Edit

False Friends are words that are similar in both languages but have different meanings. Some meaning may be the same but there are other different meanings.

asistir - To participate.
ES: Me gustaria asistir en la reunion.
EN: I would like to participate in the meeting.

Resources Edit

There is an Foreign Service Institute course for Spanish.

There is Assimil for Spanish.

There is a Pimsleur course for both Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish.

There is also Duolingo for Spanish.

Sublearning - Spanish to English movie subtitle flash cards

Rosetta Stone offers courses in both Latin American and European Spanish.

References Edit

  1. U.S. Department of State; FSI's Experience with Language Learning;
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