Spanish Language - Idioma español

Spanish / Castilian
Spoken in
Equatorial Guinea
Speakers 586 million [ 2 ]
Position 4.º ( Ethnologue , 2013)

Latin falisco
Romance Western
Ibero-Romance Western

Spanish or Castilian
Dialects See dialectal varieties of Spanish
Writing Latin alphabet , Spanish braille
Official status
Officer in
Regulated by Association of Academies of the Spanish Language
ISO 639-1 it is
ISO 639-2 spa
ISO 639-3 spa
Hispanophone global world map language 2.svg

The Spanish or Castilian is a language romance from the Latin spoken . It belongs to the Iberian group and is originally from Castile , the medieval kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula . It is also known informally as "castilla" [ Note 1 ] [ 31 ] [ 32 ] in some areas rural and indigenous of America, [ 33 ]Since Spanish began to be taught shortly after the incorporation of the new territories to the Crown of Castile. [ 34 ] [ 35 ] [ 36 ] [ 37 ] [ 38 ] [ 39 ]

Is the second language of the world by number of native speakers, ie native language after Mandarin Chinese , and the fourth language speakers after Mandarin Chinese , English and Hindi , [ 40 ] [ 41 ] [ 42 ] [ 43 ] [ 44 ] 463 million native speakers approximately [ 45 ] and 489 million people who speak it as first and second languagewith native proficiency, reaching 586 million to include speakers with limited proficiency. [ 2 ] So it can be considered the third language in the world by total speakers after Mandarin and English, [ 46 ] [ 47 ] [ 48 ] [ 49 ] with about 23 million students , [ 2 ] and the third in international communication after English and French . [ 50 ]Spanish has the third literate population in the world (5.47% of the total), being the third most used language for the production of information in the media, [ 51 ] as well as the third language with the most users of Internet , after Chinese and English, with approximately 256 million users, which represents 7.6% of the total.

The language is spoken mainly in Spain [ 12 ] and Latin America , as well as among Spanish-speaking communities residing in other countries, with the United States standing out with more than 40 million Spanish speakers. In some countries previously under Spanish rule where Spanish is no longer the majority or official language of the language, it continues to maintain great importance in the cultural, historical and often linguistic sense, being the case of the Philippines and some Caribbean islands . On the other hand, in Equatorial Guinea, where it is still a co-official language, is spoken as a mother tongue only by a small part of the population. [ 52 ]

It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations . [ 53 ] It is also an official language in several of the main international organizations - the European Union , [ 54 ] the African Union , [ 55 ] the Organization of American States , [ 56 ] the Organization of Ibero-American States , [ 57 ] The North American Free Trade Agreement , [ 58 ]The Union of South American Nations , [ 59 ] the Caribbean Community , [ 60 ] the African, Caribbean and Pacific States [ 61 ] and the Antarctic Treaty , among others - and the sports field, FIBA , [ 62 ] the FIFA , [ 63 ] the International Association of Athletics Federations , [ 64 ] etc.

Spanish, like other Romance languages , is the result of centuries of evolution from spoken Latin (called Vulgar Latin ) from approximately the third century . After the fall of the Roman Empire, the vulgar Latin of Roman Hispania gradually changed and diverged from the other Latin variants that were spoken in other provinces of the ancient Empire. The transformations gave rise, after a slow evolution, to the different Romance languages that exist today in different parts of Europe.

Historical, social and cultural aspects

Language name


According to the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), the word Spanish comes from the Provençal Espaignol , and this from the medieval Latin Hispaniolus , which means "from Hispania" ( Spain ). [ 65 ]

The Latin form HĬSPĀNĬOLUS comes from the Latin denomination of the province of HĬSPĀNĬA that included the Iberian Peninsula , rather, from its ultra- correct form . [ 66 ] It should be remembered that in late Latin the / H / was not pronounced . The opening of the brief Latin / Ĭ / in / e / would therefore have given in proto-Romance : ESPAŇOL (U) .

Another hypothesis holds that Spanish comes from the Occitan Espaignon . [ 67 ] Menéndez Pidal offers another etymological explanation: the classic hispanus or Hispanicus took Vulgar Latin the suffix -one (as in Burgundian, Breton, Frisian, Saami, saxon, etc.) and * hispanione was spent in Old Castilian to españón , "then by dissimulating the two nostrils, it became Spanish , with the ending -ol , which is not used to mean nations." [ 68 ]

The other name, the Castilian , comes from the Latin castellanus , meaning of Castilla , medieval kingdom located in the central part of the Iberian peninsula and origin of this language. [ 69 ]

Controversy over "Spanish" or "Castilian"

The controversy surrounding the terms "Spanish" and "Castilian" is based on whether it is more appropriate to name the language spoken in Latin America , Spain and other Spanish-speaking areas with one or the other term, or whether both are perfectly synonymous and acceptable.

Like many of the controversies related to the name of a language identifiable with a certain territory (Spanish with Spain, and Castilian with Castile , the ancient kingdom from which the language arose and began to be taught in America), or that carries an ideology or a historical past that provokes rejection, or that implies a fight in favor of a unique denomination to facilitate its international identification and the localization of productions in that language (for example, in computer networks), the controversy is extralinguistic.

From a strictly linguistic point of view , it is not possible to justify preferences for one denomination or another.

In the normative or prescriptive field, according to the regulations established by the main linguistic policy bodies in the Spanish-speaking area regarding the codification of the idiomatic standard (Royal Spanish Academy and Association of Academies of the Spanish Language), «Castilian» and «Spanish »Are synonymous terms, although the Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Doubts , a work of this same normative institution, points out:« The term Spanish is more recommendable because it lacks ambiguity, since it refers univocally to the language spoken today near four hundred million people. It is also the name that is used internationally ( Spanish , espagnol , Spanisch , spagnolo, etc.)».[70]

Likewise, the normative dictionary published by the Royal Spanish Academy and the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language is entitled Dictionary of the Spanish language . [ 71 ]

Certain authors have shown a preference for one or another term, such as the Venezuelan linguist Andrés Bello , who titled his main work Grammar of the Castilian language , or the Valencian Gregorio Mayans , who wrote, in 1737, in his book Origins of the Spanish language the next:

By "Spanish language" I mean that language that all Spaniards usually speak when we want to be perfectly understood from each other. [ 72 ]

On the other hand, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 , in its third article, uses the specific name "Castilian" for the language, differentiating it from the other "Spanish languages" that also exist, such as Euskera , Aragonese , Catalan or Valencian. , Asturleonian , Galician or Aranese .

As for philologists , some authors justify the preferential use of one or another term based on its origin and historical evolution, interpreted in different ways.

Current position of the RAE
Map of the use of the words "Castilian" and "Spanish" to refer to the name of the language.

Currently the RAE prefers the use of the term "Spanish" instead of the term "Castilian", despite considering both valid to refer to the official name of the language ; although it also considers Castilian a dialect of Spanish that is spoken in the Spanish region of Castile. However, it should be mentioned that, when the RAE was founded in 1713, taking the French and Italian academies as a model, the essential objective was the elaboration of a dictionary of the Spanish language, "the most copious that could be made" . That purpose became a reality with the publication of the Dictionary of Authorities, published in six volumes, between 1726 and 1739. [ 73 ]

SPANISH. To designate the common language of Spain and many nations of America , and which is also spoken as its own in other parts of the world, the terms Castilian and Spanish are valid . The controversy over which of these names is more appropriate is now over. The term Spanish is more recommendable because it lacks ambiguity , since it refers univocally to the language spoken today by more than four hundred million people. It is also the name that is used internationally ( Spanish , espagnol , Spanisch , spagnolo, etc.). Although it is also synonymous with Spanish , it is preferable to reserve the term Castilian to refer to the Romanesque dialect born in the Kingdom of Castile during the Middle Ages , or to the dialect of Spanish that is currently spoken in this region. In Spain, the name Castilian is also used when referring to the common language of the State in relation to the other co-official languages ​​in their respective autonomous territories, such as Catalan , Galician or Basque . [ 74 ]
Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Doubts , 2005 , pp. 271-272.


A page from the Cantar de mio Cid .

The history of the Castilian language begins with the vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire , specifically with that of the central area of Hispania . After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century , the influence of cultured Latin on the common people was gradually diminishing. The Latin spoken at that time was the ferment of the Hispanic Romance varieties, the origin of the Spanish language. In the 8th century , the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula led to the formation of two well-differentiated areas. In al-Andalus , the Romance dialects encompassed with the term Mozarabic were spoken, in addition to the languages ​​of the invading minority ( Arabic and Berber ). Meanwhile, in the area where the Christian kingdoms were formed a few years after the beginning of Muslim domination, a divergent evolution continues, in which several romance modalities arise: the Catalan , the Navarrese-Aragonese , the Castilian , the Asturian. Leonese and Galician-Portuguese .

From the end of the 11th century, a process of linguistic assimilation or leveling began , mainly between the central Romanesque dialects of the Iberian Peninsula: Astur-Leonese, Castilian and Navarrese-Aragonese, but also the rest. This process is what will result in the formation of a common Spanish language, Spanish. [ 75 ] More and more philologists defend this theory (Ridruejo, Penny, Tuten, Fernández-Ordóñez). The weight of the Mozarabic of Toledo has also been highlighted , a city in which written Castilian began its normalization. However, other philologists continue to defend the Pidalian postulates of the predominance of the Castilian dialect in the formation of Spanish and its expansion through a process of Castilianization throughout the rest of the peninsular territories. [ 76 ]

The Castilian Romanesque dialect, one of the precursors of the Spanish language, is traditionally considered to have originated in the medieval county of Castile (south of Cantabria and north of Burgos ), with possible Basque and Visigothic influence . The oldest texts that contain features and words similar to Castilian are the documents written in Latin and known as Cartularios de Valpuesta , [ 77 ] preserved in the church of Santa María de Valpuesta (Burgos), [ 78 ]A set of texts that constitute copies of documents, some written as early as the ninth century . The director of the Instituto Castellano y Leonés de la Lengua concluded that:

«That Latin “ was so far from rectitude, it presented a state so evolved or corrupted (...)
It can be concluded that the language of the Valpuesta calves is a Latin language assaulted by a living language, from the street and that is sneaks into these writings ”». [ 79 ]

The Glosas Emilianenses from the late 10th or early 11th century , preserved in the Yuso monastery in San Millán de la Cogolla ( La Rioja ), were considered by Ramón Menéndez Pidal as the oldest testimony of the Spanish language. However, it was later shown that the forms written in these documents correspond to the Navarrese-Aragonese romance, not to the Castilian romance. [ 80 ]

A decisive moment in the consolidation of the Spanish language occurred during the reign of Alfonso X of Castile (1252-1284). [ 81 ] If the chants of the feat were written in that vulgar language - Castilian - and for that very reason they were popular, it might be thought that the cultured and literary works produced in the Toledo Court of the aforementioned king should be written in Latin, the only cultured language that the whole of Christian Europe had accepted up to that time; That is why it was a true cultural revolution when Alfonso X the Wise decided to direct a good number of works of high culture written in a language hitherto snubbed by literate people for considering it too prosaic. This gave rise to the official recognition of Spanish, which could then alternate with Latin, a language respected by all enlightened people. [ 82 ]

The Spanish spread throughout the peninsula during the Late Middle Ages due to the continuous expansion of the Christian kingdoms in this period, in the so-called Reconquest . The incorporation into the Crown of Castile of the kingdoms of León and Galicia with Ferdinand III of Castile and the introduction of a Castilian dynasty into the Crown of Aragon with Ferdinand I of Aragon in 1410 and later, the final peninsular union with the Catholic Monarchs they increased the assimilation and linguistic leveling between the dialects of the different kingdoms.

Antonio de Nebrija author of the Grammar , the first printed grammar of a modern European language.

By the 15th century , the common Spanish language had been introduced throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula . In 1492 the Sevillian Antonio de Nebrija published in Salamanca his Grammatica , the first treatise on grammar of the Spanish language, and also the first published "in cast" of a modern European language. [ 83 ] The first book printed in Spanish had appeared to 1472. [ 84 ]

It is estimated that in the mid-16th century 80% of Spaniards spoke Spanish. [ 85 ] At that time the consonant readjustment had already begun , which meant the reduction of the phonemic system when, due to the loss of the sonority trait, it went from six sibilant consonants to only two or three depending on the variety.

The colonization of America , which began in the 16th century, expanded Spanish throughout most of the American continent, taking loans that enriched its vocabulary of native languages ​​such as Nahuatl or Quechua , languages ​​on which it also had a notable impact. After achieving independence, the new American states began processes of linguistic unification that ended up spreading the Spanish language throughout the entire continent, from California to Tierra del Fuego .

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, countless public and private periodicals appeared in Spanish. The first was published in Madrid in 1661 by Julián Paredes ( Gazeta nueva ), [ 86 ] and was followed by numerous publications in Salamanca , León, Granada, Seville and Zaragoza. Periodicals in Spanish are also beginning to appear in bilingual territories. The first was in 1792, the Diario de Barcelona , which was also the first newspaper in Spanish in Catalonia . [ citation required ] It was followed by El Correo de Gerona(1795), Diario de Gerona (1807) and even earlier in bilingual cities such as Palma de Mallorca (1778), Vigo or Bilbao . In America , Spanish became the normal language of teaching, to the detriment of general languages based on indigenous languages. It is estimated that Spanish was known around 1810 by a third of the inhabitants of Spanish America.

The Spanish language always had numerous variants that, while respecting the main Latin trunk, have differences in pronunciation and vocabulary, as happens with any other language. To this must be added the contact with the languages ​​of the native populations, such as Aymara , Chibcha , Guaraní , Mapudungun , Mayan , Nahuatl , Quechua , Taíno and Tagalog , among others, who also made contributions to the lexicon of the language, not only in their areas of influence, but in some cases in the global lexicon.

Geographical distribution

Geographical Distribution of the Spanish Language
Countries where Spanish is considered the de jure or de facto official language .

Spanish or Castilian is the official language of nineteen countries in America , in addition to Spain and Equatorial Guinea , and has a certain degree of official recognition in the Philippines , and in the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic [ 87 ] (a country not recognized internationally), but its speakers are distributed over the five continents:


Percentage of Spanish speakers in the states of the American continent whose official language is not Spanish.
Dark Green Arrow Up.svg 50% Dark Green Arrow Up.svg 30% Dark Green Arrow Up.svg 20% Dark Green Arrow Up.svg 10% Dark Green Arrow Up.svg 5% Dark Green Arrow Up.svg 2%

In America there are around 90% of the total number of Spanish speakers in the world, about 400 million people. [ 88 ] In addition to 19 Latin American countries , Spanish is spoken by a significant portion of the United States population , mainly recent immigrants. In both Latin America and the United States there is a significant increase in the number of speakers. Past presidents of the United States are knowledgeable about the language and Barack Obama studied it and has good pronunciation when reading. [ 89 ]


The majority of Spanish speakers are found in Latin America , making up about 375 million people.

Mexico is the country with the largest number of speakers (almost a quarter of the total number of Spanish speakers in the world), although it is not the official language of the state. In 2003, Mexico recognized indigenous languages ​​as national languages ​​as well. [ 90 ]

Mexico City , the city with the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world.
Buenos Aires , capital of Argentina , the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world by territorial extension.

With one or another denomination, it is one of the official languages of Bolivia , [ 91 ] Colombia , [ 92 ] Costa Rica , [ 93 ] Cuba , [ 94 ] Ecuador , [ 95 ] El Salvador , Guatemala , [ 96 ] Honduras , [ 97 ] Nicaragua , [ 98 ]Panama , [ 99 ] Paraguay , [ 100 ] Peru , [ 101 ] Dominican Republic [ 102 ] and Venezuela . [ 103 ] It is not recognized as an official language in other American countries where it is the spoken and majority language, such as Argentina , Chile , Mexico and Uruguay . [ 104 ] In Puerto Rico , theConstitution of 1952 establishes Spanish together with English as official languages. [ 105 ] In September 2015, Senate Bill 1177 was presented to establish the use of Spanish in the first place in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. [ 106 ]


Distribution of Spanish Speakers in the United States in the 2010 Census .

United States is the second largest number of Spanish speakers in the world after Mexico, [ 107 ] [ 108 ] with a progressive advance of the bilingualism , especially in the states of California , New Mexico and Texas , where there official bilingual Spanish programs for residents from Latin America. For example, in California many government activities, documents and services are available in Spanish. Section 1632 of the California Civil Code recognizes the Spanish language as the language of the large and growing Hispanic community, hence the Dymally-Alatorre Actinstitute an English-Spanish bilingualism, without the necessary exclusion of other languages. [ 109 ] In the state of New Mexico, Spanish is used even in state administration, although that state has no official language established in its constitution. The New Mexican Spanish spoken by native speakers of the state (not recent immigrants) dates back to the times of the Spanish colonization in the century XVI and retains many archaisms . The United States Civil Rights Commission recognizes that in 1912:

"New Mexicans were successful in protecting their heritage, inserting provisions in their constitution that make Spanish an official language just like English." [ 110 ]

In Texas, the government, through section 2054.116 of the Government Code, orders that state agencies provide the information on their web pages in Spanish. [ 111 ] Other states of the Union also recognize the importance of Spanish in their territory. [ 112 ] In Florida, for example, its use is widespread due to the presence of a large community of Cuban origin, mainly in the Miami metropolitan area.. Spanish has a long history in the United States; many states and landforms have their names in that language, but the use of the Spanish language has increased mainly due to immigration from the rest of America. An example of the expansion of the language in the country is the large presence of media in Spanish. Spanish is also especially concentrated in cosmopolitan cities such as New York , Los Angeles , Chicago , Miami , Houston , Dallas , San Antonio , Denver , Baltimore , Portland and Seattle.. Spanish is also the most widely taught language in the country. [ 113 ]

The United States is the second country, after Israel , with the highest number of Judeo - Spanish or Ladino speakers . Specifically, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 [ 114 ] people who speak it. The monitoring and accounting of Sephardic communities both in the United States [ 115 ] and in the rest of the world has improved notably after the Spanish law of 2015 that allows Sephardic, who meet a series of requirements, [ 116 ] to request Spanish nationality.


Spanish has always been important in Brazil because of the proximity and growing trade with its Hispanic American neighbors, being a member of Mercosur , as well as because of the historical immigration of Spanish and Hispanic Americans. In 2005, the National Congress of Brazil approved the decree, signed by the president , known as the Spanish law , which offers this language as the first foreign language of instruction in the country's schools and high schools. [ 117 ] Spanish is an easy language for Brazilians to learn, thanks to the fact that Portuguese is a language very similar to Spanish. [ 118 ]In the border area between Brazil and Uruguay (mainly in Uruguay) a mixed language called Portuñol is spoken . [ 119 ] The constitution of the state of Rio de Janeiro and a deliberation of the government of the state of São Paulo officially include Spanish in secondary schools. Thus, article 317.3 of the 1989 constitution of the state of Rio de Janeiro states:

"The Spanish language becomes part of the compulsory nucleus of disciplines of all the series of the second grade of the state education network, taking into account primarily what the Constitution of the Republic establishes in its fourth article, sole paragraph."

And article 2 of the deliberation No. 77 of the state council of education of the government of the state of São Paulo of 2008 recognizes:

"Spanish is a compulsory curricular component, according to federal legislation in force, to be developed in accordance with the terms of the guidelines contained in the cee No. 77/08 indication that is part of the deliberation."

UNILA, a public university in the southern region of Brazil that coordinates and provides teachers of Spanish to the state schools of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná, co-officialized Spanish. In recent years, due to the Venezuelan migration crisis , the Brazilian border state of Roraima has become the place with the most Spanish speakers in Brazil. It is estimated that around 50,000 Venezuelans currently reside in Roraima, which constitutes approximately 10% of the state's population. In 2018, the state of Rio Grande do Sul recognized Spanish in its Constitution as a compulsory language of instruction. [ citation required ]. In 2005, the then Minister of Education, Fernando Haddad, and the then President of the Brazilian Republic Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, signed Law No. 11,161, which became known as “ Lei do Espanhol ”. According to its terms, its objective was to deal specifically with the teaching of Spanish in Brazil. [ 120 ]


Distribution of the Spanish language in Canada

In Canada , the Spanish-speaking immigrant population represents 1.3%, [ 121 ] and almost as many speak it as a second language. About half are concentrated in Toronto . [ 122 ] Spanish ranks fourth in foreign languages ​​with 553,495 native speakers after Mandarin , Cantonese , and Punjabi . [ 123 ]

Other countries in Central America and the Caribbean

Spanish has no official recognition in the former British colony of Belize . However, the majority of the population knows how to speak Spanish since it is a compulsory language of learning in schools. [ 124 ] [ 125 ] is spoken mainly by the descendants of Hispanics who have inhabited the region from the century XVII . On the Caribbean island of Aruba , it is spoken by a large number of people. [ citation needed ] On the contrary, in neighboring Curaçao and Bonaire it is spoken by a minority. [ citation required ]Due to the proximity to Venezuela, the three islands receive media in Spanish, mainly television channels, due to close commercial ties and the importance of Spanish-speaking tourism. In recent years, the compulsory basic teaching of Spanish in schools has also been introduced, although without official character (the only official languages ​​of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are Dutch and Papiamento : a mixture of Spanish and Afro-Portuguese).

Spanish is not an official language of Haiti . Although its official language is French , Haitian Creole (a language that comes from French) is widely spoken. Near the border with the neighboring Dominican Republic, basic Spanish is understood and spoken colloquially. In regulated secondary studies, learning Spanish is compulsory from 15 to 18 years old. [ 126 ] It is estimated that more than one and a half million Haitians can communicate in Spanish, regardless of the diaspora. [ citation required ]

In the Virgin Islands of the United States , Spanish is spoken by approximately 17% of the population, mainly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. In Trinidad and Tobago , it enjoys a special status and is compulsory learning in public schools. In Jamaica it is the most studied foreign language in secondary education from 12 to 14 years old. Other Caribbean islands have Spanish-speaking communities due to their proximity to the surrounding Spanish-speaking countries and the corresponding migrations from countries such as the Dominican Republic or Venezuela, which is why Spanish is taught as a second language in the educational system of some of the they. [ citation required ]


Knowledge of Spanish in the European Union (able to hold a conversation) according to the 2006 Eurobarometer . native country More than 9% Between 4% and 8.99% Between 1% and 3.99% Less than 1%

Spain is the only place in Europe where the language is official, however it is used outside its borders such as Gibraltar . [ 127 ] In Andorra it is the second most widely spoken language today, [ 128 ] without being the traditional or official language, which is Catalan . [ 129 ] Spanish is also used in small communities in other European countries, mainly in Portugal , France , Italy , the United Kingdom , Germany , Belgium and Switzerland.[ 130 ] (where1.7% of the populationis themother tongue, representing the most widely spoken minority language in this country behind three of the fourofficial languages). Spanish is one of the official languages ​​of theEuropean Union(EU). [ 131 ] Almost 23 million Europeans over 12 years of age speak Spanish outside of Spain in the EU, counting those who have learned it as a foreign language and are able to carry on a conversation. In total there would be about 70 million Spanish speakers inEurope. [ 132 ]

In 2020, Russia incorporated Spanish as a foreign language in public education, a total of 2 hours a week, this comes after the Russian government implemented the obligation to study a second foreign language. [ 133 ] Since 2009, Russia launched the RT channel that broadcasts news and reports entirely in Spanish.



In the Philippines , a former Spanish overseas province, the Spanish language was official from 1571 to 1987, although since 1973 it had lost much representative weight at the official level. The presidential proclamation / 155 of March 15, 1973, still in force, declares Spanish as the official language of the Philippines for all those documents from the colonial period not translated into the national language. After the Spanish-American war, the Philippines became a colony of the United States from 1899. Since then, due to the American intervention, the authorities followed a policy of de-Hispanicization of the country and the imposition of English. After the Philippine-American war , the Spanish-speaking urban bourgeoisie was decimated, and after World War IIin 1945, the remnants of the Spanish bourgeoisie were practically annihilated after the Intramuros bombing in Manila. It has been estimated that in 1907, approximately 70% of the Philippine population had the ability to speak Spanish, although only 10% as their mother tongue. In 1950 it was 6%. [ 134 ] At present it is less than 0.5%. [ 135 ] Spanish-based creole languages ​​also survive, such as the apricot of Zamboanga . In 2009, the then Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been awarded the International Prize Don Quijote 2009, [ 136 ] [ 137] Which recognizes the educational initiative of theRepublic of the Philippinesto introduce Spanish into national curricula, with Spanish already in the 2012-2013 academic year being the most studied foreign language after English, taught in 65 public centers. [ 138 ]

At present, the Spanish language is still very present both in the names and surnames of Filipinos (anthroponyms), as well as in the names of many of their localities (toponyms) and administrative demarcations. [ 139 ]


In Israel there is an important Sephardic community of approximately 1,400,000 [ 140 ] people, many of whom still retain the Judeo-Spanish (or Ladino) language, inherited from the Jews expelled from the Iberian kingdoms in the 15th and 16th centuries . [ 141 ] In 2018, the National Academy of Judeo-Spanish was inaugurated in Jerusalem , incorporated in 2020 to ASALE , in order to protect, research and promote the use of Judeo-Spanish among Sephardic communities and in general.

Another contribution to Spanish in that country has been the many Jewish immigrants from Latin America, and especially from Argentina, who have brought the typical River Plate accent to many areas of the country. [ 142 ]

Other countries

There are other Asian countries where Spanish is being studied with great interest and is beginning to have importance in the educational, migratory and social fields, the most referenced countries being Russia , China , Japan , Iran , India , United Arab Emirates , Bangladesh and Kuwait . [ citation required ]


Canary Islands

Spanish language in Africa and the Middle East.

Forming part of Spain and therefore politically European, the main Spanish-speaking enclave in Africa are the Canary Islands (with more than two million speakers), followed by the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla (with more than 168,000 speakers) and other places minor sovereignty .

Equatorial Guinea

Spanish is one of the official languages ​​of Equatorial Guinea . The vast majority of Equatorial Guineans speak Spanish, although always as a second language, with various Bantu languages being the most widespread mother tongues.

Western Sahara and Morocco

In Western Sahara , the Saharawi minister for Latin America, Hash Ahmed declared on behalf of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic that his country is “simultaneously an African and an Arab nation that has the privilege of being the only Spanish-speaking due to the cultural heritage of the Spanish colonization. The Spanish language is the compulsory teaching language because it is, together with Arabic, the official language. [ citation required ] Spanish is considered the second administrative and communication language of the SADR; [ 87 ] the only official language is Arabic. In Tindouf , Algeria , there are about 200,000 refugeesSahrawis , who can read and write the Spanish language and thousands of them received university education offered by Cuba , Mexico , Venezuela and Spain .

In Morocco the Spanish language is very popular as a second language. It is spoken mainly in the areas of the old Spanish protectorate of Morocco : Rif , Ifni and Tarfaya . [ 143 ] [ 144 ]

Other countries

In addition, it is spoken by the Equatoguinean communities that fled during the dictatorships of Francisco Macías Nguema and Teodoro Obiang and who are now found in countries such as Gabon , Cameroon , Nigeria and Benin . Also in South Sudan there is an important minority, the intellectual and professional elite, trained in Cuba , who speak Spanish. Other places where Spanish is present are Angola, mainly in the city of Luena , and Walvis Bay , a city in Namibia, due to the presence of the Cuban army.

Rest of the world


Percentage of Australians who speak Spanish in their homes, in relation to the rest of the population according to the 2011 census.

Among the countries and territories of Oceania , Spanish is the de facto official language on Easter Island , in Polynesia, as it is part of Chile ; the native language is Rapanui . In the Mariana Islands ( Guam and the Northern Marianas ), Chamorro is the official and native language of the islands, which is an Austronesian language that contains a lexicon of Spanish origin. [ 145 ] Some islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan, Tinian, Rota) and the Federated States of Micronesia(Yap, Pohnpei) had native Spanish speakers, as they were Spanish colonies until 1898-1899. However, both in Guam and in the Northern Marianas, a good part of its inhabitants have surnames of Spanish origin.

In addition, in Australia and New Zealand , there are communities of native Spanish speakers, resulting from emigration from Spanish-speaking countries (mainly from the Southern Cone ), which number 133,000 speakers. [ 146 ] In Hawaii , 2.1% of the population are native Spanish speakers. [ 147 ] In 2010 there were 120,842 Hispanics, according to the United States Census. [ citation required ]


The Orcadas Antarctic Base , Argentine scientific station, is the oldest Antarctic base in operation and the oldest with a permanent population (since 1907).
The Chilean nucleus Villa Las Estrellas for the civilian population at the Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva Base , located on the Fildes peninsula of King George Island in the South Shetland archipelago in Antarctica.

In Antarctica , there are only two civilian localities and both are mainly inhabited by native Spanish speakers. One of them is the Argentine Fortín Sargento Cabral , which has 66 inhabitants. [ 148 ] The other is the Chilean town of Villa Las Estrellas , which has a population of 150 inhabitants in summer and 80 inhabitants in winter. In each of them there is a school center where students are studied and researched in Spanish. The Antarctic ORCADAS, an Argentine scientific station, is the oldest base in all of Antarctica still in operation and the oldest with a permanent population (since 1907).

It is also worth highlighting the role of the different scientific bases of Antarctica belonging to Hispanic countries:

Country Permanent bases Summer bases Total Map
Argentina 6 7 13 Hispanic Antarctica.png
Chile 4 5 9
Uruguay 1 1 2
Spain 0 2 2
Peru 0 1 1
Ecuador 0 1 1

Estimate of total speakers by country

Countries by number of speakers: More than 100 million More than 50 million More than 20 million More than 10 million More than 5 million More than 1 million
  • In the rows with a darker background color, the countries with official Spanish appear. The estimate of total speakers refers to speakers as first and second languages.
  • In the rows with a white background, are the countries with unofficial Spanish, where Spanish is spoken as a mother tongue by Hispanics who have emigrated there and by speakers of Spanish as a foreign language.
P. Countries Population [ 149 ] Speakers of Spanish as their mother tongue Spanish-speakers
%[150] Speakers [ 151 ] %[2] with native domain [ 152 ] [ 153 ] %[154] Total (including speakers with comp. Limited) [ 153 ] [ 155 ]
1 Mexican flag Mexico 128 972 439[156] 92,7 %[157] 119 557 451 96,8 %[2] 124 845 321 98,5 %[158] 127 037 852[159]
2 United States flag USA 328 239 523[160] 13,5 %[161] 41 757 391[162] 13,5 % 41 757 391[2][163] 17,2 %[164] 56 657 391[2][n. 1]
3 Colombia's flag Colombia 51 049 498[165] 98,2 % 50 199 498[166] 99,2 %[2] 50 641 102
4 Spanish flag Spain 47 332 614[167] 92 %[2] 43 546 005 98 %[153] 46 385 962
5 Argentina's flag Argentina 45 808 747[168] 96,7 %[169] 44 297 058 98,1 %[2] 44 938 381 99,4 %[154] 45 533 895
6 Venezuela's flag Venezuela 32 605 423[170] 96,3 %[171] 31 507 179[172] 97,3 %[2] 31 725 077 98,8 %[154] 32 214 158
7 Peru flag Peru 33 149 016[173] 82,9 %[174] 27 480 534 86,6 %[2] 29 834 114
8 Chile's flag Chile 19 678 363[175] 95,9 %[2] 18 871 550[176] 95,9 %[2] 18 871 550 99,3 %[154] 19 540 614
9 Ecuador Flag Ecuador 17 424 000[177] 93 %[178] 16 204 320 95,8 %[2] 16 692 192 98,1 %[154] 17 092 944
10 Guatemala's flag Guatemala 17 109 746[179] 69,9 %[180] 11 959 712 78,3 %[2] 13 396 931 86,4 %[154] 14 782 821
11 Flag of Cuba Cuba 11 209 628[181] 99,8 %[2] 11 187 209 99,8 %[2] 11 187 209
12 Flag of the dominican republic Dominican Republic 10 535 535[182] 97,6 %[2] 10 282 682[183] 97,6 %[2] 10 282 682 98,6 %[154] 10 388 038
13 Bolivian flag Bolivia 11 797 257[184] 60,7 %[185] 7 160 935 83 %[2] 9 791 723 87,9 %[154] 10 369 789
14 Honduras flag Honduras 9 450 711[186] 98,7 %[2] 9 327 852[187] 98,7 %[2] 9 327 852
15 Flag of the savior The Savior 6 825 935[188] 96,8 % 6 090 000[189] 99,7 %[2] 6 805 457
16 Flag of France France 67 060 000[190] 0,7 % 477 564[191] 2,8 % 1 910 258[153] 10 % 6 685 901[153]
17 Brazil's flag Brazil 211 038 000[192] 0,2 % 460 018[2] 0,2 % 460 018[2] 3,2 % 6 676 018[2][n. 2]
18 Nicaraguan flag Nicaragua 6 527 691[193] 95,3 %[194] 6 220 890[195] 97,1 %[2] 6 338 388
19 Italian flag Italy 60 541 000[196] 1 % 628 784[197] 1,7 % 1 037 248[153] 9,4 % 5 704 863[153]
20 Costa Rica's flag Costa Rica 5 163 038[198] 98,3 % 5 077 620[199] 99,3%[2] 5 126 897
21 Paraguayan flag Paraguay 7 353 038[200] 61,5 %[201] 4 522 118 68,2 %[2] 5 014 772 88,5%[202][203] 6 507 439
22 Flag of panama Panama 4 278 500[204] 85,7 % 3 777 457[205] 91,9 %[2] 3 931 942
23 Uruguay flag Uruguay 3 543 026[206] 95,5 % 3 392 826[207] 98,4 %[2] 3 486 338
24 Puerto Rico's flag Puerto Rico 3 193 694[208] 94,2 %[209] 3 008 460 99 %[2] 3 161 757
25 Flag of the United Kingdom UK 66 435 600[210] 0.6 % 394 066[211] 0.8 % 518 480[153] 4.7 %[153] 3 110 880[153]
26 Philippines flag Philippines 108 206 000[212] 8285[213][214] 0.41 % 438 882[215] 2.79 % 3 016 773[216][217]
27 Flag of germany Germany 83 149 300[218] 0.4 % 307 944[219] 0.8 % 644 091[153] 3.1 % 2 576 366[153]
28 Morocco flag Morocco 35 601 000[220] 0,03 % 11 342[221] 0,03 11 342 4,68 % 1 664 823[2][222][223]
29 Equatorial Guinea Flag Equatorial Guinea 1 454 789[224] 13,7 % 199 306[225] 74 % 1 076 544 87,7 %[226] 1 275 850
30 Romania flag Romania 19 405 156[227] 0.9 %[153] 182 467[153] 4.7 %[153] 912 337[153]
31 Canada's flag Canada 34 437 000[228] 1.6 % 553 495[229] 1.9 % 553 495 2.5 % 846 495[2][n. 3]
32 Portugal's flag Portugal 10 276 617[230] 0.4 % 38 758[231] 3.1% 323 237[153] 7.9%[153] 808 091[153]
33 Netherlands flag Netherlands 17 261 622[232] 0.5 % 87 227[233] 0.8 % 133 719[153] 3.9 % 668 599[153]
34 Ivory Coast flag Ivory Coast 25 823 071[234] 2.2 % 566 178[155]
35 Australian flag Australia 25 585 000[235] 0.5 % 117 498[2] 0.5 % 117 498 1.9 % 492 069[2]
36 Flag of sweden Sweden 10 323 857[236] 0.8 % 78 273[237] 1 % 101 472[153] 4.5 % 467 474[153]
37 Belgium flag Belgium 11 515 793[238] 0.6 % 71 390[239] 0.8 % 89 395[153] 3.9 % 446 977[153]
38 Benin flag Benin 11 733 059[240] 3.5 % 412 515[155]
39 Poland flag Poland 38 386 000[241] 3173[242] 0.8 % 324 137[153] 0.8 % 324 137[153]
40 Flag of austria Austria 8 898 557[243] 0.2 % 20 320[244] 0.8 % 70 098[153] 3.2 % 280 393[153]
41 Belize flag Belice 408 487[245] 52,1 %[246] 212 822 52,1 % 212 822 62,8 %[247] 256 530
42 Algerian flag Algeria 43 378 027[248] 0.4 % 175 000[2][249] 0.5 % 223 422[2]
43 Switzerland flag Swiss 8 586 550[250] 2.3 %[251] 200 714[252] 2.3 % 200 714 2.5 % 215 134[253]
44 Senegal flag Senegal 16 209 125[254] 1.3 % 205 000[155]
45 Cameroon flag Cameroon 24 348 251[255] 1377[256] 1377 0.8 % 194 095[155]
46 Flag of denmark Denmark 5 827 463[257] 0.3 % 16 062[258] 0.8 % 45 613[153] 3.1 % 182 450[153]
47 Flag of israel Israel 9 138 000[259] 1 % 95 000[260] 1 % 95 000 1.9 % 175 231[261]
48 Japan's flag Japan 126 020 000[262] 0.1 % 108 000[2][263] 0.1 % 108 000[2] 0.1 % 168 000[155]
49 Gabon flag Gabon 2 172 579[264] 7.7 % 167 410[155]
50 Irish flag Ireland 4 921 500[265] 5325[266] 2.9 % 35 220[153] 2.9 % 140 880[153]
51 Netherlands Antilles flag Netherlands Antilles
(Bonaire flag Bonaire andCuracao flag Curacao )
227 000[267] 10 699 55,30 % 125 534[268] 140 670[2]
52 Finland flag Finland 5 527 573[269] 0.1 % 6474[270] 0.1 % 6474 2.4 % 133 200[153]
53 Flag of bulgaria Bulgaria 7 000 039[271] 1.9 % 130 750[153] 1.9 % 130 750[153]
54 Norwegian flag Norway 5 356 789[272] 0.5 % 25 084[273] 0.5 % 25 084 2.1 % 114 859[155]
53 Czech Republic flag Czech Republic 10 681 161[274] 2495[275] 2495 0.8 % 90 124[153]
55 Greece flag Greece 10 724 599[276] 0.8 % 86 936[153]
56 Hungarian flag Hungary 9 772 756[277] 0.9 % 83 206[153]
57 Aruba flag Aruba 112 309[278] 12.2 % 13 710[2] 67.1 % 75 402[279] 74 % 83 064[2]
58 Flag of the People's Republic of China China 1 401 100 000[280] 18 454[281] 18 454 74 270[155]
59 Trinidad and Tobago flag Trinidad and Tobago 1 363 985[282] 4000[2] 4100 5.2 % 70 401[2]
60 Guam flag Guam (from USA) 162 742[283] 1201[2] 1201 37.2 % 60 582[2]
61 New Zealand flag New Zealand 4 957 000[284] 0.4 % 22 000[2] 0.4 % 22 000 1.2 % 57 883[155]
62 Flag of Andorra Andorra 78 264[285] 43,2 %[286] 33 810 65.3 %[287] 51 106 65.3 % 51 106
63 Slovenian flag Slovenia 2 089 310[288] 1.7 % 35 194[153] 1.7 % 52 791[153]
64 United Arab Emirates flag United Arab Emirates 9 575 729[289] 47 300[290] 47 300 48 000[253]
65 Slovakia flag Slovakia 5 450 017[291] 0.8 % 45 500
66 Russian flag Russia 146 793 744[292] 5862[293] 5862 0.03 % 37 929[155]
67 Gibraltar flag

Gibraltar (del R.U.)

29 441[294] 77,3 %[295] 22 758 77,3 % 22 758 100 %[296] 29 441
68 Lithuanian flag Lithuania 2 794 329[297] 1.01 % 28 297[153]
69 Luxembourg flag Luxembourg 613 894[298] 1 % 6062[299][153] 1.3 % 8098[153] 4 % 24 294[153]
70 Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic flag Sahara Occidental 597 000[300] 22 000[301]
71 Turkey flag Turkey 83 81548 997[302] 5235[303] 5235 20 235[2]
72 Flag of the United States Virgin Islands British Virgin Islands flag Virgin islands 106 405[304] 15,78 % 16 788[305] 15,78 % 16 788 15,78 % 16 788
73 Latvian flag Latvia 1 908 100[306] 0.7 % 13 943[153]
74 Flag of cyprus Cyprus 875 900[307] 1.5 % 13 208[153]
75 Indian flag India 1 210 193 422[308] 1000[2][309] 1000 10 750[310]
76 Estonian flag Estonia 1 328 360[311] 0.7 % 9457[153]
77 Flag of Madagascar Madagascar 26 154 000[312] 8200[313]
78 Jamaica's flag Jamaica 2 726 667[314] 8000 8000 8000[315]
79 Moldova flag Moldavia 2 618 000[316] 6099[317]
80 Tunisian flag Tunisia 11 722 038[318] 4904[319]
81 Namibian flag Namibia 2 458 936[320] 3870[321] 3969
82 Egyptian flag Egypt 99 963 200[322] 3500[253]
83 Maltese flag Malta 493 559[323] 3354[153]
84 Falkland Islands flag Falkland Islands (UK) 2955 227[324] 227 227
85 Vatican City Flag Vatican City 91 s.d. s.d.
Total 7,626,000,000
(Total world population) [ 325 ]
6,2 %[326] 479 776 323[45] 6,5 % 503 026 698[2] 7,2 %[327] 561 483 559[2][328]

Expanding language

Countries of the world where Spanish is studied. Countries with the Spanish language as official Countries with more than 1,000,000 students Countries with more than 100,000 students Countries with more than 20,000 students

By the year 2000, the forecast was that in the United States alone the number of Spanish speakers would reach 35,000,000. In that year, Spanish surpassed English as the most widely spoken language in the Western world. [ 329 ] In 2001, Spanish speakers numbered approximately 400 million people. [ 330 ]

The Instituto Cervantes , an organization for the dissemination of Spanish, reported that between 1986 and 1990 there was an increase of 70% in the number of students of Spanish in the United States and 80% in Japan . The Spanish language is perhaps the third most studied foreign language in Japan. Currently, Portuguese is the first most studied foreign language, due to the large Japanese / Brazilian community, with a total of 400,000 speakers. As such, the Portuguese language is currently part of the school curriculum in Japan. Other countries noted for their high increase students are Brazil , [ 331 ] [ 332 ]Morocco , Sweden , [ 333 ] Norway , [ 334 ] Poland , [ 335 ] [ 336 ] [ 337 ] Ivory Coast , Senegal , Cameroon [ 338 ] and Gabon . [ 339 ] [ 340 ] [ 341 ]

However, in recent decades there have also been setbacks. The most notable case is that of the Philippines , a country in which the Spanish language went from being official to having a restricted role since 1973, [ 342 ] and definitively losing its official character in 1986; thus, after a process of substitution in favor of English and Tagalog , in a few decades it went from tens of millions of speakers in the Philippine archipelago [ citation needed ] to no more than 20,000 in 1990. [ 343 ]The total number of speakers is increasing very slightly in recent years due to initiatives by the Philippine government to reintroduce the language into teaching, but they are no longer native speakers.

Official academic sources estimate that by 2030 Spanish will be the second most widely spoken language in the world, behind Mandarin Chinese , [ 344 ] and by 2045 it is expected to become the first. [ 345 ]

Spanish students around the world

Students of Spanish as a foreign language, according to the Yearbook of the Cervantes Institute 2015. Only countries where there are more than 30 000. [ 346 ] [ 347 ]

Pos. Countries Spanish Students (2017)
1 United States flag USA 8 157 386
2 Brazil's flag Brazil 6 120 000
3 Flag of France France 2 589 717
4 Italian flag Italy 684 345
5 Ivory Coast flag Ivory Coast 566 178
6 Flag of germany Germany 554 423
7 Flag of the United Kingdom UK 519 660
8 Benin flag Benin 412 515
9 Flag of sweden Sweden 216 633
10 Senegal flag Senegal 205 000
11 Gabon flag Gabon 167 410
12 Spanish flag Spain 130 000
13 Equatorial Guinea Flag Equatorial Guinea 128 895
14 Portugal's flag Portugal 126 541
15 Canada's flag Canada 92 853
16 Morocco flag Morocco 82 185
17 Norwegian flag Norway 82 122
18 Poland flag Poland 77 478
19 Cameroon flag Cameroon 63 560
20 Japan's flag Japan 60 000
21 Netherlands flag Netherlands 55 432
22 Flag of austria Austria 49 357
23 Belgium flag Belgium 46 388
24 Irish flag Ireland 44 311
25 Flag of bulgaria Bulgaria 41 674
26 Flag of denmark Denmark 39 501
27 New Zealand flag New Zealand 39 337
28 Tunisian flag Tunisia 36 794
29 Czech Republic flag Czech Republic 35 576
30 Philippines flag Philippines 33 600
31 Flag of the People's Republic of China China 31 154
Total in the world 21 815 280

Informal education

Most popular languages ​​on Duolingo in 2016. English Spanish French Swedish German

The data of the people who study Spanish only covers the centers that are certified by the Cervantes Institute, however, due to new technologies, the way of studying has changed in all areas, the applications on smartphones is a clear example of it.

On the Duolingo web platform , Spanish is the second most studied language in the world with more than 36 million students. According to its 2020 report, Duolingo reported that Spanish had grown in popularity, displacing French as the second most studied language in the world, growing to be the most popular language in 34 countries and the second most popular in 70 countries. [ 348 ] In 2016, Spanish was the most studied language in 32 countries and the second most studied in 57 countries. [ 349 ] [ 350 ]

Most studied languages in Duolingo (2020) [ 348 ]
Idiom English Español French
1 to option (№ countries) 121 34 23
2 to option (№ countries) 8 70 71
Users (millions) 104.82 36.08 27.87

Note : Total Users per language, data updated to March 2021. [ 351 ]

In 2020, of a total of 19 languages ​​available on Duolingo , English was studied by 53% of users, especially in regions such as Latin America , the Middle East and Southeast Asia . Spanish, with 17% of users, stands out in countries such as the United States , the United Kingdom and Norway , and at a regional level, in Anglo-Saxon America . Since the English version, Spanish has 27 million users, that is equivalent to 80% of the total who study Spanish. [ 352 ] follows from the Portuguese version with about 3 million users. [ 353]

Dialect varieties of Spanish

Map with the main varieties or dialects of the Spanish language in the world.
Dialects and accents of Spanish, along with other languages ​​spoken in Spain , Andorra and Gibraltar . [ citation required ]

The geographical varieties of Spanish, called dialects or geolects , differ from each other for a multitude of reasons. Among those of a phonetic type, the distinction or not of the phonemes corresponding to the letters c / z and s (absence or presence of lisp / seseo ), the distinction or not of the phonemes corresponding to the letters ll and y (absence or presence of of yeísmo ), the aspiration or not of the s or zbefore a consonant, and the adoption or not of new consonants (such as / ʃ /). These differences do not usually cause intelligibility problems between their speakers. The various variants also differ in grammatical uses, such as voseo or the use or not of the informal second person plural pronoun ("you"). In terms of vocabulary, there are notable differences, especially in certain semantic areas, such as the nomenclature of fruits and vegetables, clothing, articles of daily use, as well as colloquial or insulting expressions.

As in any language, especially when it is distributed over an extensive geographical domain, Spanish has several internal varieties that allow its speakers to be distinguished according to their pronunciation, their grammatical constructions and their vocabulary. In general terms, Spanish conventionally presents two types of modalities present both in Spain and in America: the conservative modalities, such as the Spanish from the north of Spain, the one from the interior of Colombia and Mexico or the one from the Andes, and the innovative modalities, like the Spanish of Andalusia and the Canary Islands, that of the Caribbean or that of the Río de la Plata. A typical characteristic of peninsular Spanish is the division of the consonantal group tl which, in words such as atlas or atletismo It is pronounced ['at.las] and [at.le.'], while in Latin the current pronunciation is [' a.tlas] and [a.tle.'].

Regardless of these features, it is possible to distinguish large groups of dialect varieties of Spanish. For example, for Menéndez and Otero (2007) there would be eight: the Castilian, Andalusian and Canarian varieties in Spain, and the Caribbean, Mexican-Central American, Andean, Chilean and River Plate varieties [ 354 ] in America.

Differences between dialects are almost always limited only to intonation, pronunciation, and isolated words or expressions. One of the differences between the dialects of Spain and those of Latin America are the pronouns. In Spain, the only informal second-person pronoun used is " ", but in some areas of Latin America such as Argentina, Uruguay or Paraguay " vos " is used . "You" and "you" are informal and used with friends. " You " is a formula of respect used with strangers or older people. However, in certain regions of Colombia, ustedeo can occur in areas of certain informality comparable to the use of tuteo or voseo in the aforementioned countries.

"Vos" is used as a second person singular in many places in Latin America such as: Argentina, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Colombia and Uruguay, but it is also used in other places as regional brands. Its use, depending on the country and region, can be considered an accepted standard or a mark of the speech of ignorant or uneducated people. The interpersonal situations in which vos is used and its use is accepted depends on the regions.

Spanish dialects also vary when it comes to the second person plural. The dialects of America only have one form for the second person plural: you, which works for both formal and informal situations. However, in European Spanish there are two: you for formal situations and you for informal situations. [ 355 ]

Dialects in Spain [ 356 ] [ 357 ] [ 358 ]
Dialects in Africa
Dialects in America
Dialects in Asia

Derived languages

The following are languages ​​that can be considered derived from Spanish and Creole languages ​​influenced by Spanish:

Medieval Castellano
Medium spanish

Modern Spanish

Creole languages





Languages ​​relexicalized by Spanish

In the world there are several mixed languages and pidgins that take a large part of their lexicon from Spanish:

Linguistic description


Spanish is an Indo - European language of the Romance subfamily , specifically a language of the Iberian- Romance group , so the languages ​​closest to it are Asturleonian , Galician - Portuguese and Aragonese . Typologically it is a fusing inflectional language , with initial nucleus and complement marking, and the basic order is SVO (declarative sentences without topicalization). [ 360 ]

Phonology and sounds

Modern Spanish has a markedly different phonology from Latin. In modern standard Spanish the opposition of quantity in vowels and consonants has been lost and the accent is not prosodically determined but rather phonologically distinctive. In modern Spanish, deaf sounds (without vibration of the vocal cords) are always obstructive (fricatives, affricates, or stops), while voiced sounds are frequently continuous ( approximants , voiced, or vowels). The only obstructive sounds that are voiced without assimilation are the stops / b, d, g / (in absolute initial position or after nasal). The Spanish medieval had affricates and fricativessonorous (still present in other Romance languages ​​and even Judeo-Spanish but systematically deafened in modern standard Spanish).

In the passage from Latin to Spanish, some distinctive changes can be seen, such as the presence of lenition ( Latin vita - Spanish vida , Latin lupus - Spanish wolf ), the diphthongation in the phonetically short cases of E and O (Latin terra - Spanish - earth, Latin novum - new Spanish ), and palatalization (Latin annum - Spanish year ). Some of these characteristics are also present in other Romance languages .

The most frequent phoneme in Spanish is / e / , so the letter " e " is also the most repeated letter in a long text in Spanish. The most frequent consonant phoneme in all varieties is / s / , although as a consonant letter " r " is a little more frequent than " s " (this is because the phoneme / r / when it does not go to the beginning or end of word is written double, with which the frequency of that letter exceeds that of the phoneme. The frequency of « r » is even more increased because when it is inside a word it represents the phoneme / ɾ /, simple vibrating) .

The accent is of intensity and statistically the flat words dominate, or accented in the penultimate syllable, then the acute ones and finally the esdrújulas . Thanks to the Royal Spanish Academy , founded in 1713, the spelling of Spanish has been simplified in search of the phonetic pattern, although this trend came to a halt in the middle of the 19th century , despite the proposals in this regard by the grammarian Andrés Bello .


Phonetic comparison between English and Spanish vowels (Bradlow, 1995), showing the first two formant frequencies .

In all variants of Spanish there are five phonological vowels: / aeiou /. The / e / and / o / are middle vowels, neither closed nor open, but they can tend to close and open [e], [[], [o] and [ɔ] depending on their position and the consonants for which are stuck. However, these sounds do not represent a distinctive feature in most varieties , unlike what happens in Catalan , Galician , Portuguese , French , Occitan and Italian ; in Spanish these sounds are therefore allophones . However, in the varieties of the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula (Eastern Andalusian and Murcian) the opening feature is phonological, and therefore these geolects have up to 10 vowels in opposition (singular [el 'pero] / plural [lɔ perɔ]).

According to Navarro Tomás , the vowel phonemes / a /, / e / and / o / have different allophones. [ 361 ]

The vowels / e / and / o / have somewhat open allophones, very close to [ɛ] and [ɔ], in the following positions:

  1. In contact with the double r sound ("rr") / r /, as in "dog", "tower", "rowing", "rock".
  2. When they precede the / x / sound, as in "tile", "leaf".
  3. When they are part of a decreasing diphthong, as in "comb", "beret".
  4. Furthermore, the open allophone of / o / occurs in every syllable that is linked by consonant and the open allophone of / e / appears when it has been linked by any consonant other than / d /, / m / and / n / : "Pelma", "fishing", "fish", "coast", "elm".

The phoneme / a / has three allophonic varieties:

  1. A palatal variety, when it precedes palatal consonants, as in "mesh", "facha", "dispatch".
  2. Another velarized variant occurs when it precedes the vowels / o /, / u / or the consonants / l /, / x /: "now", "pause", "palm", "maja".
  3. A medium variant, which is carried out in the contours not expressed in the previous paragraphs: "expensive", "compass", "sultan".

Both / i / and / u / can also function as semivowels ([i ^] and [u ^]) in the postnuclear syllable position and as semiconsonants ([j̞] and [w̞]) in the pre-nuclear position. In Spanish there is a pronounced antihiatic tendency that frequently turns hiatuses in a relaxed pronunciation into diphthongs, such as hero ['e.ɾo.e] - [' e.ɾwe], or line ['] - ['li.nja].

Furthermore, in Spanish, all vowels can be nasalized as they are locked by a nasal consonant, resulting in [ã], [ẽ], [ĩ], [õ] and [ũ]. This feature is more prominent in some linguistic varieties than in others. [ citation required ]

In different dialects of Spanish in southeastern Spain, as the Andalusian East and Murcia , among others, they distinguish between 8 and 10 vowels, [ 362 ] [ 363 ] and even 15 if nasal vowels are counted, which are very present in these dialects; this phenomenon is sometimes accompanied by vowel harmony. Any vowel to be locked by an “s” (silent), or by the other consonants (silent), give as a result the following vowels / ɑ /, / ɛ /, / ɪ /, / ɔ / and / ʊ /; thus forming the following vowel pairs: / a / - / ɑ /, / e / - / ɛ /, / i / - / ɪ /, / o / - / ɔ / and / u / - / ʊ /. These vowel pairs are distinctive in these dialects, such as hasta and asta / ɑt̪a / - ata (verb to tie) / at̪a /, mes / mɛ / - me / me /, los / lɔ / - lo / lo /. [ citation required ]

Unlike the above, Mexican Spanish pronounces unstressed vowels in a weak or deaf way , mainly in contact with the / s / sound. [ 364 ] Given the case that the words weights , weights and fish have the same pronunciation ['pesə̥s]. [ citation required ]


All varieties of Spanish distinguish a minimum of 22 phonemes , five of which correspond to vowels (/ aeiou /) and 17 to consonants (/ bskdfgxlmn ɲ pr ɾ t ʧ ʝ /). Some varieties may have a greater number of phonemes; for example, in the Iberian Peninsula most dialects have the additional presence of / θ / and in some speakers from various areas of Spain and America the phoneme / ʎ / (which was present in medieval Spanish) also persists. However, the number of sounds or allophones (which are not necessarily phonologically distinctive) is notoriously higher in all varieties of Spanish, to see a list of some you can consult the phonetic transcription of Spanish. Dialect phonological differences , mostly due to differences in consonants, are as follows:

  • No dialect of Spanish makes the spontaneous distinction between the pronunciation of the letters "b" and "v". This lack of distinction is known as betacism . However, it must be taken into account that in some countries, particularly Chile , there is a lot of pressure on children at school to pronounce the 'v' as labiodental , therefore, one can occasionally find this pronunciation (perceived by many as affected ), especially in the media. The pronunciation of “v” as an occlusive or fricative bilabial phoneme , identical to that of “b”, is also shared with Galician , Sardinian and various dialects of the Catalan and Occitan , among others. A possible cause of this peculiarity is the influence of the Basque linguistic substrate , which would explain its extension in these languages ​​cited from a Basque-Pyrenean focus. Another possible explanation, rather structural, is that although Latin had the letter 'v' which was actually only a written variant of the semi-vowel 'u', it was pronounced / w / and evolved in other Romance languages ​​towards / v / . On the other hand, the fricativization of / b /, common in all Romance languages, gave rise to allophones/ b / stop and / β / fricative. The second has a certain resemblance to the approximant / w /, so the Latin 'v' [w] would have passed directly to [b, β] in Spanish. However, there is the sound / v / in Spanish when an “f” is in contact with a voiced consonant, in the same way a voicing of / s / and / θ / occurs when being in contact with a voiced consonant becoming / z / and / ð /, respectively. Example: Dafne ['davne], [roz'β̞iv ð̞e teɾ'neɾa].
  • In general, there is confusion between the consonant “y”, pronounced [ʝ], [ɟ], [ʒ] or [ʃ], and the “ll”, originally [ʎ], except in various areas of Spain (in regression) and, in America, in Paraguayan Spanish and in dialects with substrates of languages ​​in which this difference exists, as in the Spanish- Quechua or Spanish- Aymara bilingual areas . This lack of distinction is known as yeísmo .
  • In most varieties of America and southern Spain / s / is a laminoalveolar sound, while in other American varieties (most of Peru , Bolivia , scattered areas of Colombia , Mexico and the Dominican Republic ) and in the center and north of Spain la / s / es apicodental [s̪]. [ citation required ]
  • The representation of the consonant / ɲ / by means of the letter “ ñis considered a particular and singular characteristic of the Spanish language (from the Latin groups nn and ni V which in the Middle Ages began to be abbreviated as an “n” with a tilde (~) on top that later took the wavy shape representing its palatal pronunciation), although it also exists in many more languages ​​of the world: Asturleonian , Aragonese , Breton and Galician , Guaraní , Mapudungun , Mixtec , Otomí and Quechua in America, the bubiin Africa or the Chamorro in Oceania. In Yucatan Spanish the letter “ ñ ” is pronounced [nj] instead of [ɲ], and therefore is sometimes transcribed as “ni”. [ 365 ]
  • The Spanish of Spain, except for the Canary Islands and much of Andalusia , distinguishes between [θ] (written 'z' or 'ce', 'ci') and [s]: house ['kasa], hunting [' kaθa].
  • Most dialects register a more or less advanced loss of the implosive / -s / (postvocalic or in syllabic coda ), a phenomenon typical of the American 'lowlands', in a process similar to that of medieval French . The exceptions are Mexico (except for some coastal areas of the Caribbean), northern half of Spain (where it begins to appear) and in the Andean area (especially in Colombia , Ecuador , Peru and Bolivia ). [ citation required ]
  • The influence of the Nahuatl [ 366 ] the Spanish of Mexico pronounces the digraphs "tz" and "tl" as sounds Affricate : a sound africado alveolar deaf / ts / and another africado alveolar lateral deaf / t͡ɬ /, respectively. The first of them only appears in native terms, the second is now applied to words that are not loans such as Atlántico or Nestlé . Note that Atlántico and Nestlé pronounce [a.'t͡ɬan.ti.ko] and [nes.'t͡ɬe] in Mexico, [ 366 ] while in Spain they pronounce [ad.'lan.ti.ko] and [nes .'le], respectively. [ 367 ][ 368 ] On the other hand, since the letter "x" represents the sounds [ks] [gs], [s], [x] and [ʃ] in the Spanish of Mexico, there may be several pronunciations for the same word. For example, xenophobia is pronounced as [seno'foβia], [ʃeno'foβia] or even [xeno'foβia]. This last pronunciation has been recorded in the speeches of several diplomatic and Mexican writers such as Adolfo Lopez Mateos , [ 369 ] [ 370 ] Alfonso Reyes [ 371 ] and others. [ 372 ] [ 373 ]Similarly, xylocaine is pronounced [xiloka'ina], and xylophone becomes pronounced as [si'lofono] or [ʃi'lofono].

Spanish phonology

The Spanish phonological system is made up of a minimum of 17 consonantal phonemes (and some varieties in Spain can present up to 19 phonemes as they also have the phonemes / ʎ / and / θ /). Regarding vowels, most varieties only have 5 phonemes and several allophones. In some varieties of Andalusian and other southern dialects of Spanish they can have up to 10 vowels in phonological opposition , since in them the opening ATR feature can become relevant, doubling the number of vowels.

All these phonemes can be analyzed by a minimum of 9 binary features (for the varieties without / θ /): [± consonant] , [± sonant] ; [± dorsal] , [± labial] , [± coronal] , [± palatal] , [± velar] ; [± continuous] , [± nasal] , [± lateral] . Although normally in order to make the description more natural, some more are used, including some more explicit articulatory descriptions:

The consonant table in terms of these features is given by:

[+ consonant]
[-dorsal] [+dorsal]
[+lab][-cor] [-lab][+cor] [+ pal] [-vel] [-pal] [+ vel ]
[-son] /p/ /b/ /t/ /d/ / tʃ / /k/ /g/
[+ cont] /f/ / θ / / s / /ʝ/ /x/
[+son] [+nas] /m/ /n/ /ɲ/
[-in the] [+ years] /l/ / ʎ /
[-year] /r/ /ɾ/

Where the phonemes that are not present in all varieties of Spanish have been indicated by parentheses (•).

Pronunciation speed

In a study carried out by the University of Lyon , the languages ​​were compared: German, Spanish, French, English, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Vietnamese. It was concluded that only Japanese is capable of surpassing Spanish both in speed and in low information density per pronounced syllable. The figures for the Spanish language were: 7.82 syllables per second, compared to the average of 6.1 syllables in English in that same fraction of time, confirming that the speed of the language is due to the adaptation to its structure. [ 374 ]


The alphabet used by the Spanish language is the Latin alphabet , of which 27 letters are used: 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 , z .

In modern Spanish the «h» does not correspond to any phoneme (although in Old Castilian and some modern regional dialects it still represents the phoneme / h /). All variants of Spanish have at least 22 phonemes (17 consonants and five vowels), with some variants up to 24 phonemes (two phonemes that appear in central and northern Iberian Spanish and do not appear in all variants are / θ / and / ʎ /). Furthermore, there is no exact correspondence between the rest of the letters and phonemes (for example, « c » = / k / ante / a, o, u / and / θ / ante / e, i / in Spain). Likewise, five digraphs are also used to represent as many phonemes: " ch ", " ll ", " rr ", " gu " and "qu ', the latter two considered as positional variants for the phonemes / g / and / k /. [ 375 ]

The digraphs ch and ll were considered as independent letters of the Spanish alphabet from 1754 to 2010, so both graphic signs were listed separately in the dictionaries from 1803 to 1994, due to the fact that they maintain their own pronunciation that is different from that of the letters. individual components that compose them ( c and l ). Likewise, most Spanish speakers speak varieties that present yeísmo , under which the pronunciation of ll is identical to that of and when the latter is pronounced as a consonant, although its sound is traditionally considered a palatal lateral phoneme.

The letter " r " can represent the phoneme / ɾ / (end or beginning of middle syllable) or / r / (word initial, or after / -s /) as shown in the following examples:

hollow /'da'ɾokas/
da rocas / 'da'rokas /
dar rocas / 'daɾ'rokas /
Israel / isra'el / (not / isɾa'el /)

On the other hand, the digraph « rr » always represents the phoneme / r /.


Headquarters of the Royal Spanish Academy in Madrid , Spain

Spanish is an inflectional language of the fusional type , that is, in sentences the inflection is preferably used to indicate the relationships between its elements. However, despite its character as an inflectional language, it also resorts to the use of prepositions , abstract words that serve as a link and are invariable. By the way in which the arguments of the transitive and intransitive verbs are marked, it is grouped within the nominative-accusative languages .

In the name and the adjective, the categories of number and gender are mandatory, which is manifested both in the endings and in the form of the article that requires a name or adjective when it is preceded by an article. The personal pronouns distinguish the categories of number and case and in the third person also gender. The verb systematically distinguishes between singular and plural forms, it also has forms according to time , mode , aspect and voice .


Spanish words are formed by lexemes or roots to which grammatical morphemes or grammes are added (such as the masculine or feminine gender and the singular or plural number for nouns and adjectives , and the mode , time , voice , aspect and person and number for the verb ), plus all kinds of affixesthat serve to form derived words or to mark affectivity, as occurs with the especially abundant and characteristic derivation in diminutive suffixes , many of them of rather local use. Suffixing is used for both inflection and derivation , while prefixation is always derivative, never inflection. Flexion can also be done suprasegmentally by accent position:

(I) animo (1st p. sg pres ind )
(he) animated (3rd p. sg pret perf simp ind ).


The syntax is the scope of the sentences and their syntactic constituents , and is devoted to study how the discrete elements of language are combined together and restrictions syntactic order, co - occurrence and match , existing between them. The most common basic order with verbs (other than inergative) and with a defined subject and object is SVO , although pragmatically the order of these elements is quite free. The order constraints affect almost exclusively clitics and negative polarity elements, and elements related to functional categories .

Compound sentences in Spanish include complex restrictions on the consecutive temporum and restrictions on the distinction between an indicative mood and a subjunctive mood . Often the rules for choosing the mode of the subordinate clause are not straightforward. In fact, this is one of the most difficult aspects for students of Spanish as a second language .

Furthermore, Spanish, like most Indo-European languages and unlike languages ​​such as Chinese or Japanese , extensively uses various types of number, gender and polarity agreement . These agreement relationships often occur between different phrases. Typologically, Spanish is an initial core language and few order restrictions regarding verbal arguments and syntactic attachments. Furthermore, Spanish is a language that preferably uses complement marking .


Majority use, orally and in writing Shared use Use restricted to specific areas Spanish-speaking areas without voseo

In some variants of American Spanish, the form vos is used for the second person singular pronoun instead of the standard ; normally this variation is accompanied by a particular conjugation.

In the Spanish of the peninsula, the vos was, at first, only proper treatment of nobles or as a form of respect similar to the current you ( your mercy ). The irruption of the form your mercy , progressively contracted to you , restructured the use of pronouns in Spain, so that vos began to be used as a formula for treatment between equals and entered into competition with you . With the passage of time the cultured use of Spain rejected you, leaving you as a form of respect and you for family use or among equals. The colonization of America at the end of the 16th centuryIt was produced when vos was still used for the treatment of equals and with this value it was implanted in several areas as a popular form of treatment for the second person singular, but it lost its prestigious connotations. In Spain it does not currently survive, although the second person plural form you does , which also has its origin in the Latin vos . The educated urban centers of America that were more exposed to the influence of European Spanish followed the restructuring of the peninsula's pronouns and reject the vos in favor of tuteo (almost all of Mexico, the Antilles and Peru), while in the rest the voseo has survived, with varying consideration, to the present day.

Voseo occurs markedly in Argentina , Bolivia (east), Costa Rica , El Salvador , Guatemala , Honduras , Nicaragua , Paraguay, and Uruguay . It appears, in slightly different ways, in Venezuela (northwest), Colombia (west), and Chile . Less frequently and limited to a family environment, the “vos” can be found in Mexico (central and highlands of Chiapas ), Colombia (Pacific coast), Ecuador (sierra), Chile(north and south) and in smaller areas of the interior of Mexico ( Tabasco ), Panama (Azuero Peninsula), Ecuador (south), Belize (south) and Peru (north and south). In Cuba , Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic its use is extinct.

Only in the Rio de la Plata , Antioquia , Camba and Central American areas is it regularly used as a prestigious form; in other regions there is a certain diglossia between the two conjugations.

Example of voseo on a poster in Buenos Aires , Argentina , which reads Do you want to change? Come to Claro . The Rio de la Plata dialect is the most representative of Voseo in the Spanish language. [ 376 ]

In Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay the "you" has even almost completely displaced the "you" from written sources. However, there are writers from the River Plate who still maintain the classic form "you" for their works of fiction, such as the Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti .

In Guatemala, the tuteo is used more frequently between people of different sex, when a man speaks to a woman who does not know, the treatment is generally of "you", when there is more trust it is vosea.

In El Salvador the tuteo is common, it is used as courtesy or respect in certain registers, for example, when speaking with foreigners, when speaking in public, advertising, correspondence, etc. If the situation is spontaneous, both are usually used. It is normal among equals, and mostly among the lower class, not the voseo which is normal among the middle and upper class.

In Nicaragua the use of "tú" is extinct, the entire population uses "vos" for informal situations and "you" for formal ones. If someone talks, considers himself a foreigner, or someone who imitates another culture, the use of "tú" or its conjugation in some phrases or sentences is the result of many Spanish-American soap operas where the tuteo is common.

In Costa Rica, vos is very common as an informal pronoun, while "you" is the formal pronoun. There are speakers who exclusively use "you", regardless of whether its use is formal or informal. There are also speakers who use tuteo, but this use is rejected by voiced speakers.

In Venezuela, voseo is common in the Zulia State and in the central-western part of the Falcón State .


The Spanish lexicon is made up of around 70% of words derived from Latin , 10% derived from Greek , 8% from Arabic , 3% from Gothic , and 9% of words derived from different languages.

Of the pre-Roman languages ​​of the peninsula ( Iberian , Basque , Celtic or Tartessian ) there are many place names, some words ( mud, dog, bed, fat man, Nava ) and some isolated anthroponym , such as Indalecio. The settlement of Germanic peoples such as the Visigoths , the Vandals or the Suevi inserted many first names (Enrique, Gonzalo, Rodrigo) and their respective surnames (Enríquez, González, Rodríguez), the suffix -engo in words like royal and vocabulary referring to war as helmet andspy .

In addition, the aforementioned Muslim era gave way to the adoption of numerous Arabisms. In morphology, it should be noted that the suffix comes from the Arabic for gentilisms such as Ceutí or Israeli .

In the 16th century , numerous Italianisms referring to the arts were introduced, but also a great number of indigenous words or Americanisms , referring to plants, customs or natural phenomena typical of those lands, such as sweet potato , potato , yucca , cacique , hammock , hurricane , cacao , chocolate ; from the náhuatl , the Mayan languages , the arawak languages (primarily the taíno ) and Quechua . In the seventeenth centurynumerous cultisms entered due to the influence of the gongorina or culterana language . In the 18th century , Gallicisms or words taken from French referring especially to fashion, cuisine and bureaucracy such as mash, tissue, menu, toupee, mannequin, restaurant / restaurant, bureau, card, gala and DIY, among others. In the 19th century , new loanwords were incorporated, especially from English and German , but also from Italian in areas related to music, particularly opera ( baton, soprano, piano, radio ), and cooking. In the twentieth centuryThe pressure of English was greatly accentuated in the fields of technology , computing , science and sports : set , penalty , soccer , e-mail , Internet , software . All of these are known as loanwords .

However, the Royal Spanish Academy has, in recent years, made great efforts to avoid the use of these words by proposing alternatives more in line with the traditional Spanish spelling (among many other examples: zoom instead of zoom , email instead of e-mail , soccer instead of football …). Although most of these initiatives have been penetrating society, certain proposals have not been very well received, despite being recommended by the RAE.

In general, America is more susceptible to loanwords from English or Anglicisms ("mouse", in Spain: "mouse"), largely due to closer contact with the United States . For its part, Spain is related to Gallicisms or words taken from neighboring France (such as Gallicism "computer" in the Spanish of the Iberian Peninsula, in contrast to Anglicism "computer" or "computer" in American Spanish).

Regarding the Slavic languages, most of the loans come from the Russian language . [ 377 ] However, there are also words in Spanish that come from Czech and Slovak . Most of the loans from Czech were assimilated to Spanish from other languages, such as French and English , with Czech origin , such as pistol or robot . However, most of the words from Czech are eponymous nouns . [ 378 ]

Writing system

Letter eñe on a keyboard .

Spanish is written using a variant of the Latin alphabet with the additional letter « ñ » (eñe) and the digraphs « gu », « qu », « rr », « ch » and « ll », the latter two considered as letters of the alphabet from 1754 to 2010, and that they were listed apart from the «c» and the «l» between 1803 (fourth edition of the DRAE ) and 1994, because they represent a single sound, different from the letters that compose it.

Thus, the Spanish alphabet is made up of twenty-seven 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 »y« z ».

The digraphs "ch" and "ll" have specific phonetic values , so in the Ortografia de la lengua española of 1754 [ 379 ] they began to be considered as letters of the Spanish alphabet and from the publication of the fourth edition of the Dictionary of the Spanish language in 1803 [ 380 ] [ 381 ] were ordered separately from "c" and "l", [ 382 ] and it was during the X Congress of the Association of Spanish language Academiesheld in Madrid in 1994, and on the recommendation of various organizations, it was agreed to reorder the digraphs "ch" and "ll" in the place assigned to them by the universal Latin alphabet, although they were still part of the alphabet. [ 383 ] With the publication of the 2010 Spelling of the Spanish Language , both were no longer considered letters of the alphabet. [ 384 ]

[385]Furthermore, unlike other languages ​​in the rest of the world, Spanish is the only language that uses graphic question marks and opening exclamation marks that other languages ​​do not have («¿» and «¡»), which are placed at the beginning of the question or exclamation, and at the end of the question or exclamation their respective closing counterparts ("?" and "!"). In this way, Spanish can be differentiated from other languages ​​in reference to the creation of questions and exclamations (note that these opening signs were introduced in the second edition of the Royal Academy of Language Spelling). These special signs facilitate the reading of long questions and exclamations that are only expressed orally by variations in intonation. In other languages ​​"¿" and "¡" are not necessary because their oral syntax does not cause ambiguity when read,Is he coming tomorrow? , Is he coming tomorrow? , Kommt er morgen? , ¿Viene mañana? -.

The vowels always constitute the center or nucleus of the syllable, although the "i" and the "u" can function as semiconsonants before another vowel nucleus and as semivowels afterwards. A vowel syllable nucleus can sound louder and louder than the other syllabic nuclei of the word if it carries the so-called intensity accent, which is written according to spelling rules with the sign called orthographic accent or accent to mark the blow of voice when it is does not follow the usual pattern, or to distinguish words that are spelled the same (see diacritical accent ).

Furthermore, the letter " u " can have an