MundoAndino Home : Argentina Guide at MundoAndino

Spanish language

Spanish or Castilian (or ) is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several dialects and languages in the northern fringes of the Iberian Peninsula during the 10th century and gradually spread through the Kingdom of Castile, becoming the foremost language for government and trade in the Spanish Empire.

Latin, the basic foundation of the Spanish language, was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by Romans during the Second Punic War around 210 BC. During the 5th century, Hispania was invaded by Germanic Vandals, Suevi, Alans, and Visigoths, resulting in numerous dialects of Vulgar Latin. After the Moorish Conquest in the 8th century, Arabic became an influence in the evolution of Iberian languages including Castilian.

Modern Spanish developed with the Readjustment of the Consonants ('') that began in 15th century. The language continues to adopt foreign words from a variety of other languages, as well as developing new words. Castilian was taken most notably to the Americas as well as to Africa and Asia Pacific with the expansion of the Spanish Empire between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries.

, 329 to 358 million people speak Spanish as a native language and a total of 417 million people speak it worldwide. It is the second most natively-spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese. Mexico contains the largest population of Spanish speakers. Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.


Spanish evolved from Vulgar Latin introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by Romans during the Second Punic War around 210 BC, with some loan words from Arabic during the Andalusian period and other surviving influences from Basque and Celtiberian, as well as Germanic languages via the Visigoths.

Castilian is thought to have evolved in the northern fringes of the Iberian Peninsula during the 10th century along the remote crossroad strips among the Alava, Cantabria, Burgos, Soria and La Rioja provinces of Northern Spain (see Glosas Emilianenses), as a strongly innovative and differing variant from its nearest cousin, Leonese, with a higher degree of Basque influence in these regions (see Iberian Romance languages). Modern Spanish developed in Castile with the Readjustment of the Consonants during the 15th century. Typical features of Spanish diachronical phonology include lenition , palatalization and diphthongation (stem-changing) of short eand ofrom Vulgar Latin . Similar phenomena can be found in other Romance languages as well.

This northern dialect from Cantabria was carried south during the , and remains a minority language in the northern coastal Morocco.

The first Latin-to-Spanish grammar was written in Salamanca, Spain, in 1492, by Elio Antonio de Nebrija. When it was presented to Isabel de Castilla, she asked, "Para que querria yo un trabajo como este, si ya conozco la lengua?", to which he replied, "Su alteza, la lengua es el instrumento del Imperio" In his introduction to the first Spanish grammar, dated August 18, 1492, Nebrija wrote that "... language was always the companion of empire."

From the 16th century onwards, the language was taken to the Americas and the Spanish East Indies via Spanish colonisation. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra influence on the Spanish language from the 17th century has been so great that Spanish is often called la lengua de Cervantes(The language of Cervantes).

In the 20th century, Spanish was introduced to Equatorial Guinea and the Western Sahara, and to areas of the United States that had not been part of the Spanish Empire, such as Spanish Harlem in New York City. For details on borrowed words and other external influences upon Spanish, see Influences on the Spanish language.

Geographic Distribution

Spanish is recognized as one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the African Union, the Union of South American Nations, the Latin Union, and the Caricom and has legal status in the North American Free Trade Agreement.


It is estimated that the combined total number of Spanish speakers is between 470 and 500 million, making it the third most spoken language by total number of speakers . Spanish is the second most-widely spoken language in terms of native speakers. Global internet usage statistics for 2007 show Spanish as the third most commonly used language on the Internet, after English and Chinese.


In Europe, Spanish is an official language of Spain, the country after which it is named and from which it originated. It is widely spoken in Gibraltar, though English is the official language. It is the most spoken language in Andorra, though Catalan is the official language. It is also spoken by small communities in other European countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Spanish is an official language of the European Union. In Switzerland, Spanish is the mother tongue of 1.7% of the population, representing the largest minority after the 4 official languages of the country.


In Spain and in some parts of the Spanish speaking world, but not all, it is rare to use the term (Spanish) to refer to this language, even when contrasting it with languages such as French and English. Rather, people call it (Castilian), that is, the language of the Castile region, when contrasting it with other languages spoken in Spain such as Galician, Basque, and Catalan. In this manner, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 uses the term to define the official language of the whole Spanish State, as opposed to (lit. the rest of the Spanish languages). Article III reads as follows:

However, to some in other linguistic regions, this is considered as demeaning to them and they will therefore use the term castellanoexclusively.

The name castellano(Castilian), which refers directly to the origins of the language and the sociopolitical context in which it was introduced in the Americas, is preferred particularly in the Spanish regions where other languages are spoken as well as in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, instead of '', which is more commonly used to refer to the language as a whole in the rest of Latin America and Spain.

There is some controversy in Spain about the name of the language, which is a part of a greater controversy about Catalan, Basque and Galician nationalisms.


In Africa, Spanish is official in Equatorial Guinea (co-official with French and Portuguese), as well as an official language of the African Union. Today, in Western Sahara, an unknown number of Sahrawis are able to read and write in Spanish,and several thousands have received university education in foreign countries as part of aid packages (mainly in Cuba and Spain). In Equatorial Guinea, Spanish is the predominant language when native and non-native speakers are counted, while Fang is the most spoken language by number of native speakers. It is also spoken in the Spanish cities in continental North Africa (Ceuta and Melilla) and in the autonomous community of Canary Islands . Within Northern Morocco, a former Franco-Spanish protectorate that is also geographically close to Spain, approximately 20,000 people speak Spanish as a second language. It is spoken by some communities of Angola, because of the Cuban influence from the Cold War, and in Nigeria by the descendants of Afro-Cuban ex-slaves.


During Spanish control, it was an official language of the Philippines, until the change of Constitution in 1973. During most of the colonial period it was the language of government, trade and education, and spoken mainly by Spaniards and mestizos as a first language and more significantly as a second language by more than half of the indigenous population . However, by the mid 19th century a free public school system in Spanish was established throughout the islands, which increased the numbers of Spanish speakers. Following the U.S. occupation and administration of the islands, the strong Spanish influence amongst the Philippine population proved to be a major foe against the imposition of English by the American government, especially after the 1920s. The US authorities' conducted a campaign of solidifying English as the medium of instruction in schools, universities, and public spaces and prohibited the use of Spanish in media and educational institutions which gradually reduced the importance of the language generation after generation. After the country became independent in 1946, Spanish remained an official language along with English and Tagalog-based Filipino. However, the language lost its official status in 1973 during the Ferdinand Marcos administration. Under the Corazon Aquino administration which took office in 1986, the mandatory teaching of Spanish in colleges and universities was also stopped, and thus, younger generations of Filipinos have little or no knowledge of Spanish. The Spanish language retains a large influence in local languages, with many words coming from or being derived from European Spanish and Mexican Spanish, due to the control of the islands by Spain through Mexico City. As of the 1990 Philippine census, only 2,660 people were reported to speak Spanish as a first language, with most speakers residing in Manila. Moreover, close to four million people speak Spanish as a second language to date.

Spanish has made significant contributions to various Philippine languages such as Tagalog, Cebuano, and Hiligaynon. One of the 170 languages in the Philippines is a Spanish-based creole called Chavacano, spoken in majority by people (ca. 750 000) from the Zamboanga area. Though the indigenous grammatical structure of the national language was retained, over 5000 Spanish loanwords have found their way into the vocabulary of Filipino. Since 2009 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a fluent Spanish speaker and current President of the Philippines has ordered the re-establishment of Spanish in the education system plus there is now the daily programme "Filipinas Ahora Mismo" presented by Bon Vivar, produced in Spanish and broadcast on Radio Pilipinas. The Spanish language is to be taught in select public schools in the country starting next school year. Quezon City Science High School is one of the first schools to instruct the language.


Among the countries and territories in Oceania, Spanish is also spoken in Easter Island, a territorial possession of Chile. The U.S. Territories of Guam and Northern Marianas, and the independent states of Palau, Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia all once had Spanish speakers, since the Marianas and the Caroline Islands were Spanish colonial possessions until the late 19th century (see Spanish-American War), but Spanish has since been forgotten. It now only exists as an influence on the local native languages and is spoken by Hispanic American resident populations.


Latin America

Most Spanish speakers are in Latin America; of all countries with a majority of Spanish speakers, only Spain and Equatorial Guinea are outside the Americas. Mexico has the most native speakers of any country. Nationally, Spanish is the official languageeither de facto or de jureof Argentina, Bolivia (co-official with Quechua and Aymara), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico , Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay (co-official with Guarani), Peru , Uruguay, and Venezuela. Spanish is also the official language (co-official with English) in the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Spanish has no official recognition in the former British colony of Belize; however, per the 2000 census, it is spoken by 43% of the population. Mainly, it is spoken by the descendants of Hispanics who have been in the region since the 17th century; however, English is the official language.

Spain colonized Trinidad and Tobago first in 1498, introducing the Spanish language to the Carib people. Also the Cocoa Panyols, laborers from Venezuela, took their culture and language with them; they are accredited with the music of "Parang" ("Parranda") on the island. Because of Trinidad's location on the South American coast, the country is greatly influenced by its Spanish-speaking neighbors. A recent census shows that more than 1 500 inhabitants speak Spanish. In 2004, the government launched the Spanish as a First Foreign Language (SAFFL) initiative in March 2005. Government regulations require Spanish to be taught, beginning in primary school, while thirty percent of public employees are to be linguistically competent within five years.

Spanish is important in Brazil because of its proximity to and increased trade with its Spanish-speaking neighbors, and because of its membership in the Mercosur trading bloc. In 2005, the National Congress of Brazil approved a bill, signed into law by the President, making Spanish language teaching mandatory in both public and private secondary schools in Brazil. In many border towns and villages (especially in the Uruguayan-Brazilian and Paraguayan-Brazilian border areas), a mixed language known as Portunol is spoken.

United States

In the 2006 census, 44.3 million people of the U.S. population were Hispanic or Latino by origin; 34 million people, 12.2 percent, of the population more than five years old speak Spanish at home. Spanish has a long history in the United States because many south-western states and Florida were part of Mexico and Spain, and it recently has been revitalized by Hispanic immigrants. Spanish is the most widely taught language in the country after English. Although the United States has no formally designated "official languages," Spanish is formally recognized at the state level in various states besides English; in the U.S. state of New Mexico for instance, 40% of the population speaks the language. It also has strong influence in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio, New York City, and in the last decade, the language has rapidly expanded in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Phoenix, Richmond, Washington, DC, and other major Sun-Belt cities. Spanish is the dominant spoken language in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. With a total of 33,701,181 Spanish (Castilian) speakers, according to US Census Bureau, the U.S. has the world's second-largest Spanish-speaking population. Spanish ranks second, behind English, as the language spoken most widely at home.

Dialectal variation

While all Spanish dialects use the same written standard, there are important variations spoken among the regions of Spain and throughout Spanish-speaking America. One major phonological difference between Castilian, broadly speaking, the dialects spoken in most of Spain, and the dialects of some parts of southern Spain and all the Latin American dialects of Spanish, is the absence of a voiceless dental fricative ( as in English thing) in the latter. In Spain, the Castilian dialect is commonly regarded as the standard variety used on radio and television,, although attitudes towards southern dialects have changed significantly in the last 50 years.

In addition to variations in pronunciation, minor lexical and grammatical differences exist. For example, is the use of slightly different pronouns and differs from the standard.

The variety with the most speakers is Mexican Spanish. It is spoken by more than the twenty percent of the Spanish speakers . One of its main features is the reduction or loss of the unstressed vowels, mainly when they are in contact with the sound /s/.Eleanor Greet Cotton, John M. Sharp (1988) Spanish in the Americas, Volumen 2, pp.154-155, URLLope Blanch, Juan M. (1972) En torno a las vocales caedizas del espanol mexicano, pp.53 a 73, Estudios sobre el espanol de Mexico, editorial Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico URL. It can be the case that the words: pesos, pesas, and peces are pronounced the same ['pess].


Spanish has three second-person singular pronouns: , , and . The use of the pronoun and/or its verb forms is called .


is the subject form [you say] and object of a preposition (a vos digo) [to you I say], while "os" is the direct object form [I saw you (all)] and indirect object without express preposition [I say to you (all)].

Since vose is historically the 2nd-person plural, verbs are conjugated as such despite the fact the word now refers to a single person:


The possessive form is : . Adjectives, when used in conjunction with vos, do not agree with the pronoun but instead with the real referents in gender and number: .

Two main types of may be distinguished: reverential and American dialectal. In archaic solemn usage, expressed special reverence and could be used to address both the second person singular and the second person plural. In contrast, the more commonly known American form of is always used to address only one speaker and implies closeness and familiarity. Unlike the first type, the second one need not involve vos and may instead be expressed simply in the use of the plural form of the verb (even in combination with the pronoun tu).

The pronominal employs the use of as a pronoun to replace and , which are second-person singular informal.

As a subject employs: instead of

As a vocative: instead of

As a term of preposition: instead of

And as a term of comparison: instead of

However, for the (that which uses the pronominal verbs and its complements without preposition) and for the possessive, they employ the forms of , respectively: In other words, in the previous examples the authors conjugate the pronoun subject with the pronominal verbs and its complements of .

The verbal consists of the use of the second person plural, more or less modified, for the conjugated forms of the second person singular: . The verbal paradigm of is characterized by its complexity. On the one hand, it affects, to a distinct extent, each verbal tense. On the other hand, it varies in functions of geographic and social factors and not all the forms are accepted in cultured norms.

Extension in Latin America

is used extensively as the primary spoken form of the second-person singular pronoun, although with wide differences in social consideration. Generally, it can be said that there are zones of exclusive use of in the following areas: almost all of Mexico, the West Indies, Panama, the majority of Peru and Venezuela, Coastal Ecuador and; the Atlantic coast of Colombia.
They alternate as a cultured form and as a popular or rural form in: Bolivia, north and south of Peru, Andean Ecuador, small zones of the Venezuelan Andes, a great part of Colombia, and the oriental border of Cuba.

exists as an intermediate formality of treatment and as a familiar treatment in: Chile, the Venezuelan state of Zulia, the Pacific coast of Colombia, Central America, and the Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas.

Areas of generalized include Argentina, Costa Rica, Bolivia (east), El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Colombian region of Antioquia.


Spanish forms also differ regarding second-person plural pronouns. "Usted" (Ud.) was initially the written abbreviation of "vuestra merced" (your grace). The Spanish dialects of Latin America have only one form of the second-person plural for daily use, . In Spain there are two forms (formal) and (familiar). The pronoun is the plural form of in most of Spain, but in the Americas (and in certain southern Spanish cities such as Cadiz and in the Canary Islands) it is replaced with . It is notable that the use of for the informal plural "you" in southern Spain does not follow the usual rule for pronounverb agreement; e.g., while the formal form for "you go", , uses the third-person plural form of the verb, in Cadiz or Seville the informal form is constructed as , using the second-person plural of the verb. In the Canary Islands, though, the usual pronounverb agreement is preserved in most cases.


Some words can be different, even significantly so, in different Hispanophone countries. Most Spanish speakers can recognize other Spanish forms, even in places where they are not commonly used, but Spaniards generally do not recognize specifically American usages. For example, Spanish mantequilla, aguacate and albaricoque correspond to manteca, palta, and damasco, respectively, in Argentina, Chile (except manteca), Paraguay, Peru (except manteca and damasco), and Uruguay. The everyday Spanish words coger ('to take'), pisar ('to step on') and concha ('seashell') are considered extremely rude in parts of Latin America, where the meaning of coger and pisar is also "to have sex" and concha means "vulva". The Puerto Rican word for "bobby pin" (pinche) is an obscenity in Mexico, but in Nicaragua simply means "stingy", and in Spain refers to a chef's helper. Other examples include taco, which means "swearword" (among other meanings) in Spain and "traffic" in Chile, but is known to the rest of the world as a Mexican dish. Pija in many countries of Latin America and Spain itself is an obscene slang word for "penis", while in Spain the word also signifies "posh girl" or "snobby". Coche, which means "car" in Spain, central Mexico and Argentina, for the vast majority of Spanish-speakers actually means "baby-stroller", while carro means "car" in some Latin American countries and "cart" in others, as well as in Spain. Papaya is the slang term in Cuba for "vagina" therefore in Cuba when referring to the actual fruit Cubans call it fruta bomba instead.

Royal Spanish Academy

The (Royal Spanish Academy), together with the 21 other national ones (see Association of Spanish Language Academies), exercises a standardizing influence through its publication of dictionaries and widely respected grammar and style guides.

Because of influence and for other sociohistorical reasons, a standardized form of the language (Standard Spanish) is widely acknowledged for use in literature, academic contexts and the media.

Classification and related languages

Spanish is closely related to the other West Iberian Romance languages: Asturian, Galician, Ladino, Leonese and Portuguese. Catalan, an East Iberian language which exhibits many Gallo-Romance traits, is more similar to Occitan to the east than to Spanish or Portuguese.

Spanish and Portuguese have similar grammars and vocabularies as well as a common history of Arabic influence while a great part of the peninsula was under Islamic rule (both languages expanded over Islamic territories). Their lexical similarity has been estimated as 89%. See Differences between Spanish and Portuguese for further information.


Judaeo-Spanish (also known as Ladino), which is essentially medieval Spanish and closer to modern Spanish than any other language, is spoken by many descendants of the Sephardi Jews who were expelled from Spain in the 15th century. Therefore, it has somewhat the same relationship to Spanish as Yiddish does to German. Ladino speakers are currently almost exclusively Sephardi Jews, with family roots in Turkey, Greece or the Balkans: current speakers mostly live in Israel and Turkey, and the United States, with a few pockets in Latin America. It lacks the Native American vocabulary which was influential during the Spanish colonial period, and it retains many archaic features which have since been lost in standard Spanish. It contains, however, other vocabulary which is not found in standard Castilian, including vocabulary from Hebrew, French, Greek and Turkish, and other languages spoken where the Sephardim settled.

Judaeo-Spanish is in serious danger of extinction because many native speakers today are elderly as well as elderly olim (immigrants to Israel) who have not transmitted the language to their children or grandchildren. However, it is experiencing a minor revival among Sephardi communities, especially in music. In the case of the Latin American communities, the danger of extinction is also due to the risk of assimilation by modern Castilian.

A related dialect is Haketia, the Judaeo-Spanish of northern Morocco. This too tended to assimilate with modern Spanish, during the Spanish occupation of the region.

Vocabulary comparison

Spanish and Italian share a similar phonological system. At present, the lexical similarity with Italian is estimated at 82%. The lexical similarity with Portuguese is greater at 89%. Mutual intelligibility between Spanish and French or Romanian is lower (lexical similarity being respectively 75% and 71%): comprehension of Spanish by French speakers who have not studied the language is low at an estimated 45% the same as English. The common features of the writing systems of the Romance languages allow for a greater amount of interlingual reading comprehension than oral communication would.

1. also in early modern Portuguese (e.g. The Lusiads)

2. in Southern Italian dialects and languages

3. Alternatively

4. Depending on the written norm used. See Reintegracionismo


A defining feature of Spanish was the diphthongization of the Latin short vowels e and o into ie and ue, respectively, when they were stressed. Similar sound changes are found in other Romance languages, but in Spanish, they were significant. Some examples:

Lat. > Sp. , It. , Fr. , Rom. , Port./Gal. , Ast. , Cat. "stone".

Lat. > Sp. , It. , Fr. / , Rom. , Port./Gal. , Ast. , Cat. "die".

Peculiar to early Spanish was the mutation of Latin initial f- into h- whenever it was followed by a vowel that did not diphthongate. Compare for instance:

Lat. > It. , Port. , Gal. , Ast. , Fr. , Cat. , Occitan (but Gascon ) Sp. (but Ladino );

Lat. > Lad. , Port./Gal. , Ast. , Sp. ;

but Lat. > It. , Port./Gal. , Ast. Cat. , Sp./Lad. .

Some consonant clusters of Latin also produced characteristically different results in these languages, for example:

Lat. , acc. , > Lad. , , ; Sp. , , . However, in Spanish there are also the forms , , ; Port. , , ; Gal. , , ; Ast. , , .

Lat. acc. , , > Lad. , , ; Sp. , , ; Port. , , ; Gal. , , ; Ast. , , .

By the 16th century, the consonant system of Spanish underwent the following important changes that differentiated it from neighboring Romance languages such as Portuguese and Catalan:

Initial , when it had evolved into a vacillating , was lost in most words (although this etymological h- is preserved in spelling and in some Andalusian and Caribbean dialects it is still aspirated in some words).

The consonant written u or v merged with the consonant written b . In contemporary Spanish, there is no difference between the pronunciation of orthographic b and v, excepting emphatic pronunciations that cannot be considered standard or natural.

The voiced alveolar fricative which existed as a separate phoneme in medieval Spanish merged with its voiceless counterpart . The phoneme which resulted from this merger is currently spelled s.

The voiced postalveolar fricative merged with its voiceless counterpart , which evolved into the modern velar sound by the 17th century, now written with j, or g before e, i. Nevertheless, in most parts of Argentina and in Uruguay, y and ll have both evolved to or .

The voiced alveolar affricate merged with its voiceless counterpart , which then developed into the interdental , now written z, or c before e, i. But in Andalusia, the Canary Islands and the Americas this sound merged with as well. See Ceceo, for further information.

The consonant system of Medieval Spanish has been better preserved in Ladino and in Portuguese, neither of which underwent these shifts

Writing system

Spanish is written in the Latin alphabet, with the addition of the character n and the digraphs ch and ll . However, the digraph rr , which also represents a distinct phoneme , is not similarly regarded as a single letter. Since 1994 ch and ll have been treated as letter pairs for collation purposes, though they remain a part of the alphabet. Words with ch are now alphabetically sorted between those with ce and ci , instead of following cz as they used to. The situation is similar for ll.

Thus, the Spanish alphabet has the following 29 letters:

a, b, c, ch, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, ll, m, n, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z.

The letters "k" and "w" are used only in words and names coming from foreign languages .

With the exclusion of a very small number of regional terms such as Mexico (see Toponymy of Mexico), pronunciation can be entirely determined from spelling. Under the orthographic conventions, a typical Spanish word is stressed on the syllable before the last if it ends with a vowel (not including y) or with a vowel followed by n or s; it is stressed on the last syllable otherwise. Exceptions to this rule are indicated by placing an acute accent on the stressed vowel.

The acute accent is used, in addition, to distinguish between certain homophones, especially when one of them is a stressed word and the other one is a clitic: compare with ('he' or 'it'), or , (preposition 'of'), and (reflexive pronoun) with ('tea'), ('give' [formal imperative/third-person present subjunctive]) and ('I know' or imperative


The interrogative pronouns also receive accents in direct or indirect questions, and some demonstratives can be accented when used as pronouns. The conjunction ('or') is written with an accent between numerals so as not to be confused with a zero: e.g., should be read as rather than ('10.020'). Accent marks are frequently omitted in capital letters (a widespread practice in the days of typewriters and the early days of computers when only lowercase vowels were available with accents), although the RAE advises against this.

When u is written between g and a front vowel (e i), it indicates a "hard g" pronunciation. A diaeresis (u) indicates that it is not silent as it normally would be (e.g., ciguena, 'stork', is pronounced ; if it were written ciguena, it would be pronounced .

Interrogative and exclamatory clauses are introduced with Inverted question and exclamation marks .


The phonemic inventory listed in the following table includes phonemes that are preserved only in some dialects, other dialects having merged them (such as yeismo); these are marked with an asterisk (*). Sounds in parentheses are allophones. Where symbols appear in pairs, the symbol to the right represents a voiced consonant.

Lexical stress

Spanish is a syllable-timed language, so each syllable has the same duration regardless of stress. Stress most often occurs on any of the last three syllables of a word, with some rare exceptions at the fourth last or earlier syllables. The tendencies of stress assignment are as follows:

In words ending in vowels and , stress most often falls on the penultimate syllable.

In words ending in all other consonants, the stress more often falls on the last syllable.

Preantepenultimate stress (stress on the syllable that comes three before the last in a word) occurs rarely and only in words like guardandoselos ('saving them for him/her') where clitics follow certain verbal forms.

In addition to the many exceptions to these tendencies, there are numerous minimal pairs which contrast solely on stress such as sabana ('sheet') and sabana ('savannah'), as well as limite ('boundary'), limite ('[that] he/she limits') and limite ('I limited'), or also "liquido", "liquido" and "liquido".

An amusing example of the significance of intonation in Spanish is the phrase '''' .


Spanish is a relatively inflected language, with a two-gender system and about fifty conjugated forms per verb, but limited inflection of nouns, adjectives, and determiners.

It is right-branching, uses prepositions, and usually, though not always, places adjectives after nouns - as most other Romance languages. Its syntax is generally Subject Verb Object, though variations are common. It is a pro-drop language (or null subject language), that is, it allows the deletion of pronouns which are pragmatically unnecessary, and is verb-framed.

See also

Arabic influence on the Spanish language

Chavacano language

Certificate of Use of Language in Spanish

Countries where Spanish is an official language

Differences between Spanish and Portuguese


Hispanic culture


Instituto Cervantes

Latin Union

List of English words of Spanish origin

List of Spanish words of Germanic origin

List of words having different meanings in Spain and Latin America


Names given to the Spanish language





Real Academia Espanola

Romance languages


Spanish-based creole languages

Spanish language poets

Spanish profanity

Spanish proverbs

Local varieties

European Spanish

Andalusian Spanish

Canarian Spanish

Castilian Spanish

Castrapo (Galician Spanish)

Murcian Spanish

American Spanish

North American Spanish

Central American Spanish

Caribbean Spanish

South American Spanish

African Spanish

Moroccan Spanish

Equatoguinean Spanish


Spanish in the Philippines

External links

Dictionary of the RAE Real Academia Espanola's official Spanish language dictionary

Spanish BBC Languages

Spanish evolution from Latin

on WikiTravel

Didn't find what you were looking for.
Need more information for your travel research or homework?
Ask your questions at the forum about Languages of Argentina or help others to find answers.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Spanish language

Disclaimer - Privacy Policy - 2009