What Spanish Dialects Are There? 9 Different Types of Spanish Around the World

Sign post pointing destinations where you will find different Spanish Dialects

Are you a Spanish speaker?

Mug with the message life is beautiful in Spanish written on it.

Eres hispano?

You are considered a Spanish native if you have a personal or familial connection to Spanish or have been born in one of the many Spanish-speaking countries in the world.

In fact:

Though there are several major Spanish dialects, each dialect has its own set of variations, vocabulary, and pronunciation patterns.

Here’s the deal:

The different dialects can be intimidating and that’s why it’s important to understand the distinct language groups and various Spanish dialects and Spanish accents around the world.

How many Spanish dialects are there?

Different types of salsa and spices to illustrate the variations in Spanish.

Despite the Google search engine saying there are 10 main Spanish dialects. It is important to be aware that there is no authoritative count.

Why?

Spanish is a collection of different dialects of the same language. Each has its history and characteristics so it’s hard to tell the exact number. Just like English, Spanish has mutual intelligibility.

Here’s the deal:

These dialects are a result of Spanish getting influenced by another language such as Arabic.  So it has countless dialects, grammar, vocabulary, idioms, and slang. 

One of the major dialects of Spanish is Castilian Spanish

The Spanish flag to illustrate one of the major dialects in Spanish (Castilian)

The Castilian dialect is where all the Spanish began. Some refer to it as the original Spanish language or European Spanish.

In other words:

The name ‘Castilian Spanish’ prospered in the self-ruling community known as Castile. That comes across in the north-central region of Spain (Northern Spain).

Not only that:

In the 13th century, King Alfonso X promoted Castilian. He made Castilian Spanish the official language of the government.

Think about it:

Castilian was named the official dialect of Spain. It is the most widely known and spoken of all dialects in the world.

So, if you desperately want to learn about some Spanish Dialects, sharpen your pencil and take some notes. These Spanish types will have you want to learn Spanish ASAP.

8 Other Types of Spanish

Read on to learn about 8 other Spanish dialects.

Are you ready?

Let’s begin!

1. Andean Spanish

Peruvian man dressed in typical clothes from the region to illustrate the Andean type of Spanish

The Andean Spanish or sometimes called ‘Highland Spanish’.

Why?

Early colonists like Colombus, brought the language with them to Latin America and spread it around the Andes in countries such as:

  • Colombia
  • Peru
  • Bolivia
  • Ecuador

In fact:

Spain Spanish and Latin American Spanish have enormous differences between dialects, vocabulary, and accents.

Case in point:

In Latin America, native speakers call the Spanish language ‘español’ rather than Castellano, and today, the Americas take that claim as being home to the most Spanish language speakers in the world.

2. Mexican Spanish (Español Mexicano)

Man with a native American costume and a Mexican flag to illustrate the Mexican Spanish dialect

One thing about Mexican Spanish is its variety.

Think about it:

Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.

In fact:

Mexican Spanish is the heart of Spanish media and cinema.

Not only that:

Most say that Mexico is the best Latin American country to learn Spanish.

Why?

Because the Mexican accent has a very clear pronunciation. Mexican Spanish is also famous for using slang in their day-to-day conversation. 

3. Andalusian Spanish

Beautiful sunset in a very pretty European Spanish city.

The Andalusian dialect is the Spanish dialect spoken in southern Spain including Andalusia, Ceuta, Melilla, and Gibraltar.

In fact:

Andalucian Spanish is the second most popular dialect of Spanish. It sounds more fluid and softer than other Spanish dialects.

4. Rioplatense Spanish – South America

Busy Argentina streets representing the Spanish dialect spoken in that region.

The Rioplatense Spanish dialect is also called River Plate. And mainly spoken in the Rio de Plata Basin of Argentina and Uruguay. 

Here’s the deal:

Italian much influences Rio Platense Spanish over other Latin American Spanish dialects.

Why?

It has very similar intonation patterns to that of the Neapolitan dialect and is famous for its distinctive pronunciation features and hand gestures.  

5. Colombian Spanish – South America

Beautiful yellow house with two palm trees representing Colombia and its type of Spanish.

Some say that the Colombian accent is the  “most neutral Spanish accent in Latin America”.

Why?

Because people speak Spanish more slowly without cutting the words.

Fun Fact: 

In Colombia, y and ll are pronounced with a soft “j” sound. For example, yo is pronounced jo, and Calle would be cay-je.

6. Chilean Spanish (Español Chileno)

A panoramic view of Santiago in Chile representing chilean Spanish

The Spanish of Chile is unique in many ways:

In fact:

It has its own pronunciation, its own vocabulary, its own very particular intonation, and even a few grammar quirks. All of this makes it unique, and a key part of Chilean culture. 

Not only that:

As in many other Latin American countries, there are also indigenous languages, like Aymara and Quechua in the north, and Mapudungun in the south.

In fact:

Many Chilean words, like pololo (boyfriend), are in fact of indigenous origin (in this case, Mapuche)

7. Caribbean Spanish Dialect

An. amazing Caribbean beach with sky blue waters and no waves representing the Caribbean Spanish.

Caribbean Spanish speakers cut huge chunks off of a word.

How so?

They completely drop the ‘d’ at the end of the word. They also tend to drop the ‘s’ sound at both the middle and ends of words.  

In fact:

That’s why you don’t hear about many Spanish language learners going to these countries for Caribbean Spanish lessons.

By the way:

Try not to feel overwhelmed by this dialect thing even Spanish speakers can face great difficulty trying to understand another Spanish dialect.

You will find the Caribean Spanish dialect in countries such as:

  • Cuba
  • Puerto Rico
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Panama
  • Venezuela
  • The Caribbean coast of Colombia.

8. Canarian Spanish

The Canary Islands and its majestic mountains representing the Spanish of that region.

The Canarian Spanish, spoken in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, has developed along the lines of Andalusian Spanish rather than those of Castilian Spanish.

Here’s the thing:

The Canarian Spanish dialect is also spoken in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Louisiana by Isleno communities that immigrated to the United States as early as the eighteenth century.

In fact:

This has sprung from the fact that the Andalusians played a prominent role in both the subjugation of the Islands and the establishment of the new rule or administration.

Case in point:

The Spanish-speaking inhabitants of the Canary Islands run words together, creating shorter sentences that can be difficult to understand.

Which of the different Spanish dialects shall I pick for translations?

Person leafing through a dictionary to illustrate the type of Spanish term is most appropiate.

When translating for a general audience of Latin-American Spanish speakers, neutral Latin-American Spanish is often recommended.

In fact:

The neutral (universal) form of Latin American Spanish does not use Spanish words that are specific to any one country. It avoids colloquialisms.

In other words:

When spoken, it is expressed with a neutral accent that is similar to what is used in TV dubbing, commercials, news, and movies.

By the way:

“Universal Spanish” diction is even taught at a school in Miami, for people aspiring to work at Latin-American media companies like Univisión or Telemundo.

Difference between Hispanic and Spanish

The terms Hispanic and Latino are sometimes used interchangeably.

However:

They have different meanings. Hispanic usually refers to people with a background in a Spanish-speaking country, while Latino is typically used to identify people who hail from Latin America.

How do you know when to use which term?

While it’s true that the terms Hispanic and Latino can engender a sense of community and common history for those who self-identify, imposing one of these labels on another person is unhelpful.

Instead:

It’s best to respect whatever label a person gives themselves or to avoid labels altogether if that is their preference.

Use Local Types of Spanish for Marketing

Historically, Hispanic marketing has been seen with skepticism given its limited measurement and little ROI analysis.

However:

Over the past few years, a series of studies have been shedding light on what works and what doesn’t with this segment, so clients can make marketing allocation decisions based on facts.

In fact:

While most experts on Hispanic marketing agree that the Spanish language alone is not enough to create an effective campaign, we know now that abandoning Spanish to focus only on cultural nuances may not be enough.

Simply put:

You need to consider the area or region you are located in to identify the best type of Spanish you need to use for your marketing campaign while acknowledging its importance in the digital age.

Final thoughts on Spanish Dialects

According to the American Foreign Service Institute, Spanish is a category 1 language. That means it is one of the easier languages for native English speakers to learn.

The good news?

No matter which dialect you learn, you’ll be able to adapt to the other dialect quite easily.

In fact:

It depends on which variety you are most likely to use and which dialect you prefer.

So what are you waiting for?

Learn some español then. Or should I say, Castellano?

I’m not sure, because Spanish speakers themselves can’t agree on this issue.

Want more?

Don’t forget to check out my other language-learning articles in the Byond language blog.

Happy Learning!

Meet Daniel

Since he was a child, Daniel has been passionate about Social Dynamics. Learn how Daniel got his start as a Language Coach, and why he decided to start this language blog. If you want to send Daniel a quick message, then visit his contact page here.

Leave a Comment