What are the major differences between spoken Standard Mexican Spanish and Standard European Spanish? What are the major written/grammatical differences? Is there any reason to think that the differences would make one variety more challenging to learn than the other?

I searched the site for a similar question but only found this and this, which aren't quite what I'm looking for.

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    Not an answer, because it is vastly incomplete, but as a native speaker I'd say the difference in the meaning of words is quite remarkable (youtu.be/eyGFz-zIjHE). Other than that, a lot of details are different enough to warrant two different kinds of movie translations (Spain and Latin America). The sound of "z" and the use of past tenses are also quite noticeable, but not too terrible. Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 15:36
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    Also, European Spanish can seem a bit archaic if you are used to Mexican Spanish. It uses some verb forms that have fallen out of use in most of Latin America, but are still recognized in older texts. The opposite is true with English - US English has some archaic past participles like gotten and some subjunctive forms that are no longer current in the UK.
    – Robert Columbia
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 13:55
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4 Answers 4


There are no major differences, although it really depends on what you consider major. Although the comparison is fair, I do think there is a slightly bigger difference than that between American English and British English.

Please do note that someone from Mexico and someone from Spain can perfectly understand each other, although it is common in a long conversation for some words/expressions to require additional clarification or need to be understood from context (see point 3 bellow).

  1. Accent is different. This is just personal choice, you should just choose whichever you like the most or is available.

  2. Grammar is the same. Generally speaking grammar rules are identical (see point 3), this is mainly due to the fact that the Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española) is the institution that regulates and ensures the stability of the Spanish language, including dialects. It is a Spanish (from Spain) institution, but, from Wikipedia, "it is based in Madrid, Spain, but is affiliated with national language academies in 22 other hispanophone nations" (*).

  3. Words and expressions: Here is where we find the biggest difference. There are quite a good amount of words and expressions that we can classify into three groups:

    • Expressions/words in one language that can are not used in the other one but can be understood by context.
    • Expressions/words in one language that are neither used nor understood in the other one.
    • Expressions/words that are misunderstood because they exist in both languages but have totally different meanings. Perhaps one of the most well known examples is the word coger.

      "Te cojo luego en el bar" means "I pick you up later at the bar" in Spain. "Te cojo luego en el bar" means "I fuck you later in the bar" in Mexico and other latin american countries.

This answers your first question.

To the second one,

Is there any reason to think that the differences would make one variety more challenging to learn than the other?

There are no reasons to believe that one variety is more challenging. Choose based on other reasons like personal preference, abundance of friends that are native to one or the other variant or whatever fits you more or you think sounds best.

(*) Note how their dictionary captures all regional varieties of words, as in the example I gave with coger, whose meaning you can find here: https://dle.rae.es/?id=9fC4QbW (meaning 20 for Spain and 31 for Mexico in the example sentence).

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    One important difference that you left out is that in Spain they use "vosotros" and in Mexico they use "ustedes". The two forms are conjugated differently.
    – kjo
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 16:29
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    In Spain usted/ustedes is also used. It is used as a respective tú/vosotros. In some areas it is more widespread than in others. Still, this would fall into the 3rd category.
    – D1X
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 16:34
  • Yes, I should have written that in Spain they make the distinction between the respect ("ustedes") and familiar ("vosotros") forms of the 2nd person plural, while in Mexico the same form ("ustedes") is used in both contexts.
    – kjo
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 16:48
  • With that correction, however, I still think this is a more significant difference than the ones that fall into the 3rd category. The cases in the third category can be addressed with simple local substitutions, and are therefore relatively easy to master. The difference I'm describing here requires (in the case of Mexican native speakers) learning a new conjugation, and it affects an entire register of speech. I.e. far more than local one-word substitutions. In my opinion, it requires significantly more effort to master this difference than the ones under the 3rd category.
    – kjo
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 16:48

In Mexican Spanish, the accent has a bit of an American tinge. The main difference that I find is the pronunciation of -z, in Spain they pronounce it with a bit of a lisp like -th. In Mexico however, they pronounce it as an -s or -z. Also there is once difference in the verb conjugations, in Spain they have -o, -as, -a, -amos, -ais, -an (-ar verbs), -o, -es, -e, -emos, -eis, -en (-er verbs) and -o, -es, -e, -imos, -is, -en. In Mexican Spanish, they they have no -ais, -eis, is.


Just like how we speak English slightly differently in the United States versus how they speak English in Australia, location impacts the Spanish language as well. With that being said, it's possible that if you visit Mexico but learned Castilian Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish, there may be certain words or things that don't translate the same as they would if you were to visit Spain and converse with native speakers there.

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    Welcome to Language Learning Stack Exchange and thank you for your effort. However, I fail to see how this adds something that AML does not know yet. Especially, "there may be certain words or things that don't translate the same" sounds like a truism. It's definitely not an answer to the question.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 17:27
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    I think AML is asking for differences and their significance, not asking whether any differences exist. If you're trying to holistically quantify the disparity, you may want to answer less anecdotally.
    – Hatchet
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 17:56

I'd recommend learning (northern) Castillian Spanish. In Spanish spoken in Spain, z and s are pronounced differently, but in Mexico (and in the south of Spain), they are pronounced the same. Hence, casar (to marry) and cazar (to hunt) are only differentiated by context in Mexico.

Plus, learning Castillian Spanish allows you to understand vosotros, which is Spanish's version of y'all. You won't be able to learn vos, which serves as "yo!" in certain Spanish dialects, but vos isn't used in Mexico either.

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