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español, castellano
Pronunciation "[espaˈɲol], "[kasteˈʎano]
Region "Spain, "Hispanic America, "Equatorial Guinea (see below)
Native speakers
470 million (2016)[1]
570 million total speakers
"L2 speakers: 90 million (no date)[2]
Early form
"Latin ("Spanish alphabet)
"Spanish Braille
"Signed Spanish (Mexico, Spain and presumably elsewhere)
Official status
Official language in

("full list)
"Regulated by "Association of Spanish Language Academies
("Real Academia Española and 22 other national Spanish language academies)
Language codes
"ISO 639-1 es
"ISO 639-2 spa
"ISO 639-3 spa
"Glottolog stan1288[3]
"Linguasphere 51-AAA-b
""Map-Hispanophone World2.png
Spanish language in the world

Spanish ("/ˈspænɪʃ/; ""About this sound español ), also called Castilian[4] ("/kæˈstɪliən/, ""About this sound castellano ), is a "Romance language that originated in the "Castile region of "Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers around the world. It is usually considered the "world's second-most spoken native language, after "Mandarin Chinese.[5][6][7][8][9] Spanish is a part of the "Ibero-Romance group of languages, which evolved from several dialects of "Vulgar Latin in "Iberia after the collapse of the "Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. The oldest Latin texts with traces of Spanish come from mid-northern Iberia in the 9th century,[10] and the first systematic written use of the language happened in "Toledo, then capital of the "Kingdom of Castile, in the 13th century. Beginning in the early 16th century, Spanish was taken to the colonies of the "Spanish Empire, most notably to "the Americas, as well as "territories in Africa, "Oceania and the "Philippines.[11]

Around 75% of modern Spanish is derived from "Latin. "Ancient Greek has also contributed substantially to Spanish vocabulary, especially through Latin, where it had a great impact.[12][13]

Spanish vocabulary has been in contact from an early date with "Arabic, having developed during the "Al-Andalus era in the Iberian Peninsula.[14][15][16][17] With around 8% of its vocabulary being Arabic in origin, this language is the second most important influence after Latin.[14][18][19] It has also been influenced by "Basque as well as by neighboring Ibero-Romance languages.[14] It also adopted words from non-Iberian languages such as "Gothic language from the "Visigoths[20]. It has absorbed vocabulary from other languages, particularly the Romance languages "French, "Italian, "Occitan, and "Sardinian, as well as from "Nahuatl, "Quechua, and "other indigenous languages of the Americas.

Spanish is one of the "six official languages of the "United Nations. It is also used as an "official language by the "European Union, the "Organization of American States, the "Union of South American Nations, the "Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, and by "many other international organizations.[21]


Estimated number of speakers[edit]

It is estimated that more than 437 million people speak Spanish as a "native language, which qualifies it as second on the "lists of languages by number of native speakers.[22] "Instituto Cervantes claims that there are an estimated 472 million Spanish speakers with native competence and 567 million Spanish speakers as a first or second language—including speakers with limited competence—and more than 21 million students of "Spanish as a foreign language.[23]

Spanish is the official or national language in Spain, "Equatorial Guinea, and "19 countries in the Americas. "Speakers in the Americas total some 418 million. In the "European Union, Spanish is the mother tongue of 8% of the population, with an additional 7% speaking it as a second language.[24] Spanish is the most popular second language learned in the "United States.[25] In 2011 it was estimated by the American Community Survey that of the 55 million Hispanic United States residents who are five years of age and over, 38 million speak Spanish at home.[26]

Names of the language[edit]

Geographical distribution of the preferential use of the terms castellano (Castilian), in red, vs. español (Spanish), in blue, according to the terminology found in these countries' legal constitutions.["citation needed]

In Spain and in some other parts of the Spanish-speaking world, Spanish is called not only español (Spanish) but also castellano (Castilian), the language from the "kingdom of Castile, contrasting it with other "languages spoken in Spain such as "Galician, "Basque and "Catalan.

The "Spanish Constitution of 1978 uses the term castellano to define the "official language of the whole Spanish State in contrast to las demás lenguas españolas (lit. "the other "Spanish languages"). Article III reads as follows:

El castellano es la lengua española oficial del Estado. ... Las demás lenguas españolas serán también oficiales en las respectivas Comunidades Autónomas...

Castilian is the official Spanish language of the State. ... The other Spanish languages as well shall be official in their respective Autonomous Communities...

The "Spanish Royal Academy, on the other hand, currently uses the term español in its publications, but from 1713 to 1923 called the language castellano.

The "Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (a language guide published by the Spanish Royal Academy) states that, although the Spanish Royal Academy prefers to use the term español in its publications when referring to the Spanish language, both terms—español and castellano—are regarded as synonymous and equally valid.[27]

Two etymologies for español have been suggested. The "Spanish Royal Academy Dictionary derives the term from the "Provençal word espaignol, and that in turn from the Medieval Latin word Hispaniolus, 'from—or pertaining to—Hispania'.[28] Other authorities[29][30] attribute it to a supposed mediaeval Latin *hispaniōne, with the same meaning.


The Visigothic "Cartularies of Valpuesta, written in a late form of Latin, were declared in 2010 by the Spanish Royal Academy as the record of the earliest words written in Castilian, predating those of the "Glosas Emilianenses.[31]

The Spanish language evolved from "Vulgar Latin, which was brought to the "Iberian Peninsula by the "Romans during the "Second Punic War, beginning in 210 BC. Previously, several pre-Roman languages (also called "Paleohispanic languages)—unrelated to Latin, and some of them unrelated even to Indo-European—were spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. These languages included "Basque (still spoken today), "Iberian, "Celtiberian and "Celtic.

The first documents to show traces of what is today regarded as the precursor of modern Spanish are from the 9th century. Throughout the "Middle Ages and into the "modern era, the most important influences on the Spanish lexicon came from neighboring "Romance languages—"Navarro-Aragonese, "Leonese, "Catalan, "Portuguese, "Galician, "Occitan, and later, "French and "Italian. Spanish also borrowed a considerable number of words from "Arabic, as well as a minor influence from "Germanic languages through the migration of tribes and a period of "Visigoth rule in Iberia. In addition, many more words were borrowed from "Latin through the influence of "written language and the liturgical language of the Church.

According to the theories of "Ramón Menéndez Pidal, local "sociolects of Vulgar Latin evolved into Spanish, in the north of Iberia, in an area centered in the city of "Burgos, and this dialect was later brought to the city of "Toledo, where the written standard of Spanish was first developed, in the 13th century.[32] In this formative stage, Spanish developed a strongly differing variant from its close cousin, "Leonese, and, according to some authors, was distinguished by a heavy Basque influence (see "Iberian Romance languages). This distinctive dialect spread to southern Spain with the advance of the "Reconquista, and meanwhile gathered a sizable lexical influence from the "Arabic of "Al-Andalus, much of it indirectly, through the Romance "Mozarabic dialects (some 4,000 "Arabic-derived words, make up around 8% of the language today).[33] The written standard for this new language was developed in the cities of "Toledo, in the 13th to 16th centuries, and "Madrid, from the 1570s.[32]

The development of the "Spanish sound system from that of "Vulgar Latin exhibits most of the changes that are typical of "Western Romance languages, including "lenition of intervocalic consonants (thus Latin vīta > Spanish vida). The "diphthongization of Latin stressed short e and o—which occurred in "open syllables in French and Italian, but not at all in Catalan or Portuguese—is found in both open and closed syllables in Spanish, as shown in the following table:

Latin Spanish Ladino Aragonese Asturian Galician Portuguese Catalan Gascon / Occitan French Sardinian Italian Romanian English
petra piedra pedra pedra/pèira pierre perda pietra piatrǎ 'stone'
terra tierra terra tèrra terre terra țară 'land'
moritur muere muerre morre mor morís meurt mòrit muore moare 'dies (v.)'
mortem muerte morte mort mòrt mort mòrti morte moarte 'death'
Chronological map showing linguistic evolution in southwest Europe

Spanish is marked by the "palatalization of the Latin double consonants nn and ll (thus Latin annum > Spanish año, and Latin anellum > Spanish anillo).

The consonant written u or v in Latin and pronounced [w] in Classical Latin had probably ""fortified" to a bilabial fricative /β/ in Vulgar Latin. In early Spanish (but not in Catalan or Portuguese) it merged with the consonant written b (a bilabial with plosive and fricative allophones). In modern Spanish, there is "no difference between the pronunciation of orthographic b and v, with some exceptions in Caribbean Spanish.["citation needed]

Peculiar to Spanish (as well as to the neighboring "Gascon dialect of "Occitan, and attributed to a Basque "substratum) was the mutation of Latin initial f into h- whenever it was followed by a vowel that did not diphthongize. The h-, still preserved in spelling, is now silent in most varieties of the language, although in some Andalusian and Caribbean dialects it is still aspirated in some words. Because of borrowings from Latin and from neighboring Romance languages, there are many f-/h-doublets in modern Spanish: Fernando and Hernando (both Spanish for "Ferdinand"), ferrero and herrero (both Spanish for "smith"), fierro and hierro (both Spanish for "iron"), and fondo and hondo (both Spanish for "deep", but fondo means "bottom" while hondo means "deep"); hacer (Spanish for "to make") is cognate to the root word of satisfacer (Spanish for "to satisfy"), and hecho ("made") is similarly cognate to the root word of satisfecho (Spanish for "satisfied").

Compare the examples in the following table:

Latin Spanish Ladino Aragonese Asturian Galician Portuguese Catalan Gascon / Occitan French Sardinian Italian Romanian English
filium hijo fijo (or ijo) fillo fíu fillo filho fill filh/hilh fils fillu figlio fiu 'son'
facere hacer fazer fer facer fazer fer far/faire/har (or hèr) faire fairi fare a face 'to do'
febrem fiebre febre fèbre/frèbe/hrèbe (or
fièvre (calentura) febbre febră 'fever'
focum fuego fueu fogo foc fuòc/fòc/huèc feu fogu fuoco foc 'fire'

Some "consonant clusters of Latin also produced characteristically different results in these languages, as shown in the examples in the following table:

Latin Spanish Ladino Aragonese Asturian Galician Portuguese Catalan Gascon / Occitan French Sardinian Italian Romanian English
clāvem llave/clave clave clau llave chave chave clau clé crai chiave cheie 'key'
flamma llama/flama flama chama chama/flama flama flamme framma fiamma flamă 'flame'
plēnum lleno/pleno pleno plen llenu cheo cheio/pleno ple plen plein prenu pieno plin 'plenty, full'
octō ocho güeito ocho/oito oito oito (oito) vuit/huit ch/ch/uèit huit otu otto opt 'eight'
multum mucho
muito (muito)
mui (arch.)
molt molt (arch.) moult (arch.) (meda) molto mult 'much,
"Antonio de Nebrija, author of "Gramática de la lengua castellana, the first grammar of modern European languages.[34]

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish underwent a dramatic change in the pronunciation of its "sibilant consonants, known in Spanish as the reajuste de las sibilantes, which resulted in the distinctive velar [x] pronunciation of the letter ⟨j⟩ and—in a large part of Spain—the characteristic interdental [θ] ("th-sound") for the letter ⟨z⟩ (and for ⟨c⟩ before ⟨e⟩ or ⟨i⟩). See "History of Spanish (Modern development of the Old Spanish sibilants) for details.

The "Gramática de la lengua castellana, written in "Salamanca in 1492 by "Elio Antonio de Nebrija, was the first grammar written for a modern European language.[35] According to a popular anecdote, when Nebrija presented it to "Queen Isabella I, she asked him what was the use of such a work, and he answered that language is the instrument of empire.[36] In his introduction to the grammar, dated 18 August 1492, Nebrija wrote that "... language was always the companion of empire."[37]

From the sixteenth century onwards, the language was taken to "America and the "Spanish East Indies via "Spanish colonization of America. "Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of "Don Quixote, is such a well-known reference in the world that Spanish is often called la lengua de Cervantes ("the language of Cervantes").[38]

In the twentieth 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.


"Miguel de Cervantes considered the greatest figure of Spanish literature in Europe, and author of "Don Quixote, considered the first modern European novel.

Spanish is a "fusional language, with a two-"gender noun system and about fifty "conjugated forms per "verb, but with inflection of "nouns, "adjectives, and "determiners limited to "number and "gender. (For a detailed overview of verbs, see "Spanish verbs and "Spanish irregular verbs.) Spanish "syntax is considered "right-branching, meaning that subordinate or "modifying "constituents tend to be placed after their head words. The language uses "prepositions (rather than postpositions or inflection of nouns for "case), and usually—though not always—places "adjectives after "nouns, as do most other Romance languages.

The language is classified as a "subject–verb–object language; however, as in most Romance languages, constituent order is highly variable and governed mainly by "topicalization and "focus rather than by syntax. It is a ""pro-drop", or ""null-subject" language—that is, it allows the deletion of subject pronouns when they are "pragmatically unnecessary. Spanish is described as a ""verb-framed" language, meaning that the direction of motion is expressed in the verb while the mode of locomotion is expressed adverbially (e.g. subir corriendo or salir volando; the respective English equivalents of these examples—'to run up' and 'to fly out'—show that English is, by contrast, "satellite-framed", with mode of locomotion expressed in the verb and direction in an adverbial modifier).

Subject/verb inversion is not required in questions, and thus the recognition of declarative or interrogative may depend entirely on intonation.


The Spanish phonemic system is originally descended from that of "Vulgar Latin. Its development exhibits some traits in common with the neighboring dialects—especially "Leonese and "Aragonese—as well as other traits unique to "Castilian. Castilian is unique among its neighbors in the aspiration and eventual loss of the Latin initial /f/ sound (e.g. Cast. harina vs. Leon. and Arag. farina).[39] The Latin initial consonant sequences pl-, cl-, and fl- in Spanish typically become ll- (pronounced [ʎ], [j], [ʝ], [ʒ], or [d͡ʒ]), while in Aragonese they are preserved, and in Leonese they present a variety of outcomes, including [tʃ], [ʃ], and [ʎ]. Where Latin had -li- before a vowel (e.g. filius) or the ending -iculus, -icula (e.g. auricula), Modern Spanish produces the velar fricative [x] (hijo, oreja, where neighboring languages have the palatal lateral [ʎ] (e.g. Portuguese filho, orelha; Catalan fill, orella).

(See "History of the Spanish Language for more information)

Segmental phonology[edit]

Spanish vowel chart, from Ladefoged & Johnson (2010:227)

The Spanish "phonemic inventory consists of five vowel phonemes (/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/) and 17 to 19 consonant phonemes (the exact number depending on the dialect [40]). The main "allophonic variation among vowels is the reduction of the high vowels /i/ and /u/ to glides—[j] and [w] respectively—when unstressed and adjacent to another vowel. Some instances of the mid vowels /e/ and /o/, determined lexically, alternate with the diphthongs /je/ and /we/ respectively when stressed, in a process that is better described as "morphophonemic rather than phonological, as it is not predictable from phonology alone.

The Spanish consonant system is characterized by (1) three "nasal phonemes, and one or two (depending on the dialect) "lateral phoneme(s), which in syllable-final position "lose their contrast and are subject to "assimilation to a following consonant; (2) three "voiceless "stops and the "affricate /tʃ/; (3) three or four (depending on the dialect) "voiceless "fricatives; (4) a set of voiced "obstruents/b/, /d/, /ɡ/, and sometimes /ʝ/—which alternate between "approximant and "plosive allophones depending on the environment; and (5) a phonemic distinction between the ""tapped" and ""trilled" r-sounds (single ⟨r⟩ and double ⟨rr⟩ in orthography).

In the following table of consonant phonemes, /θ/ and /ʎ/ are marked with an asterisk (*) to indicate that they are preserved only in some dialects. In most dialects they have been merged, respectively, with /s/ and /ʝ/, in the mergers called, respectively, "seseo and "yeísmo. The phoneme /ʃ/ is in parentheses () to indicate that it appears only in "loanwords. Each of the voiced obstruent phonemes /b/, /d/, /ʝ/, and /ɡ/ appears to the right of a pair of voiceless phonemes, to indicate that, while the voiceless phonemes maintain a phonemic contrast between plosive (or affricate) and fricative, the voiced ones alternate "allophonically (i.e. without phonemic contrast) between plosive and approximant pronunciations.

Consonant phonemes[41]
"Labial "Dental "Alveolar "Palatal "Velar
"Nasal "m "n "ɲ
"Stop "p "b "t "d " "ʝ "k "ɡ
"Continuant "f "θ* "s ("ʃ) "x
"Lateral "l "ʎ*
"Flap "ɾ
"Trill "r


Spanish is classified by its "rhythm as a "syllable-timed language: each syllable has approximately the same duration regardless of stress.[42][43]

Spanish "intonation varies significantly according to dialect but generally conforms to a pattern of falling tone for declarative sentences and wh-questions (who, what, why, etc.) and rising tone for "yes/no questions.[44][45] There are no syntactic markers to distinguish between questions and statements and thus, the recognition of declarative or interrogative depends entirely on intonation.

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:[46]

In addition to the many exceptions to these tendencies, there are numerous "minimal pairs that contrast solely on stress such as sábana ('sheet') and sabana ('savannah'); límite ('boundary'), limite ('[that] he/she limits') and limité ('I limited'); líquido ('liquid'), liquido ('I sell off') and liquidó ('he/she sold off').

The orthographic system unambiguously reflects where the stress occurs: in the absence of an accent mark, the stress falls on the last syllable unless the last letter is ⟨n⟩, ⟨s⟩, or a vowel, in which cases the stress falls on the next-to-last (penultimate) syllable. Exceptions to those rules are indicated by an acute accent mark over the vowel of the stressed syllable. (See "Spanish orthography.)

Geographical distribution[edit]

  Official or co-official language
Active learning of Spanish.[47]

Spanish is the primary language of 20 countries worldwide. It is estimated that the combined total number of Spanish speakers is between 470 and 500 million, making it the second most widely spoken language in terms of native speakers.[48][49]

Spanish is the third most spoken language by total number of speakers (after "Mandarin and "English). "Internet usage statistics for 2007 also show Spanish as the third most commonly used language on the Internet, after "English and "Mandarin.[50]


Percentage of people who self reportedly know enough Spanish to hold a conversation, in the EU, 2005
  Native country
  More than 8.99%
  Between 4% and 8.99%
  Between 1% and 3.99%
  Less than 1%

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, although English is the official, international language.[51] It is also commonly spoken in "Andorra, although "Catalan is the official language.[52]

Spanish is also spoken by small communities in other European countries, such as the "United Kingdom, "France, "Italy, and "Germany.[53] Spanish is an official language of the "European Union. In "Switzerland, which had a massive influx of Spanish migrants in the 20th century, Spanish is the "native language of 2.2% of the population.[54]

The Americas[edit]

Hispanic America[edit]

Most Spanish speakers are in "Hispanic America; of all countries with a majority of Spanish speakers, only "Spain and "Equatorial Guinea are outside the "Americas. Nationally, Spanish is the official language—either "de facto or "de jure—of "Argentina, "Bolivia (co-official with "Quechua, "Aymara, "Guarani, and 34 other languages), "Chile, "Colombia, "Costa Rica, "Cuba, "Dominican Republic, "Ecuador, "El Salvador, "Guatemala, "Honduras, "Mexico (co-official with 63 indigenous languages), "Nicaragua, "Panama, "Paraguay (co-official with "Guaraní),[55] "Peru (co-official with "Quechua, "Aymara, and "the other indigenous languages"[56]), "Puerto Rico (co-official with English),[57] "Uruguay, and "Venezuela. 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.[58][59] Mainly, it is spoken by the descendants of Hispanics who have been in the region since the seventeenth century; however, English is the official language.[60]

Due to their proximity to Spanish-speaking countries, "Trinidad and Tobago and "Brazil have implemented Spanish language teaching into their education systems. The Trinidad government launched the Spanish as a First Foreign Language (SAFFL) initiative in March 2005.[61] In 2005, the "National Congress of Brazil approved a bill, signed into law by the "President, making it mandatory for "schools to offer Spanish as an alternative foreign language course in both public and private secondary schools in Brazil.[62] In September 2016 this law was revoked by "Michel Temer after "impeachment of Dilma Rousseff.[63] In many border towns and villages along Paraguay and Uruguay, a "mixed language known as "Portuñol is spoken.[64]

United States[edit]

Spanish spoken in the United States. Darker shades of green indicate higher percentages of Spanish speakers.

According to 2006 census data, 44.3 million people of the U.S. population were "Hispanic or "Hispanic American by origin;[65] 38.3 million people, 13 percent, of the population over five years old speak Spanish at home.[66] The Spanish language has a long history of presence in the United States due to early Spanish and, later, Mexican administration over territories now forming the "southwestern states, as well as "Florida, which was Spanish territory until 1821.

Spanish is by far the most common second language spoken and taught in the country, and with over 50 million total speakers, the United States is now the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico.[67] While English is the de facto national language of the country, Spanish is often used in public services and notices at the federal and state levels. Spanish is also used in administration in the state of "New Mexico.[68] The language also has a strong influence in major metropolitan areas such as those of "Los Angeles, "Miami, "San Antonio, "New York, "San Francisco, "Dallas, and "Phoenix; as well as more recently, "Chicago, "Las Vegas, "Boston, "Denver, "Houston, "Indianapolis, "Philadelphia, "Cleveland, "Salt Lake City, "Atlanta, "Nashville, "Orlando, "Tampa, "Raleigh and "Baltimore-Washington, D.C. due to 20th- and 21st-century immigration.


"Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo, writer, poet, journalist and promoter of the Spanish language.
Bilingual signage of "Museum of the Sahrawi People's Liberation Army in Western Sahara written in Spanish and Arabic.

In "Africa, Spanish is official (along with Portuguese and French) in "Equatorial Guinea, as well as an official language of the "African Union. In Equatorial Guinea, Spanish is the predominant language when native and non-native speakers (around 500,000 people) are counted, while "Fang is the most spoken language by number of native speakers.[69][70]

Spanish is also spoken in the integral territories of Spain in North Africa, which include the "Spanish cities of "Ceuta and "Melilla, the "Plazas de soberanía, and the "Canary Islands archipelago (population 2,000,000), located some 100 km off the northwest coast of mainland Africa.

Within Northern "Morocco, a former "Spanish protectorate that is also geographically close to Spain, approximately 20,000 people speak "Spanish as a second language, while Arabic is the de jure official language. A small number of Moroccan Jews also speak the Sephardic Spanish dialect "Haketia (related to the "Ladino dialect spoken in "Israel). Spanish is spoken by some small communities in "Angola because of the Cuban influence from the "Cold War and in "South Sudan among South Sudanese natives that relocated to Cuba during the Sudanese wars and returned in time for their country's independence.[71]

In "Western Sahara, formerly "Spanish Sahara, Spanish was officially spoken during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Today, Spanish in this disputed territory is maintained by populations of Sahrawi nomads numbering about 500,000 people, and is de facto official alongside Arabic in the "Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, although this entity receives limited international recognition.[72][73]


"La Solidaridad newspaper and "Juan Luna (a Filipino "Ilustrado).

Spanish is present on "Easter Island, as it was annexed as a Chilean province in 1888.

Spanish was an official language of the "Philippines from the beginning of Spanish rule in 1565 to a constitutional change in 1973. During "Spanish colonization (1565–1898), it was the language of government, trade and education, and spoken as a first language by Spaniards and educated Filipinos. In the mid-nineteenth century, the colonial government set up a free public education system with Spanish as the medium of instruction. This increased use of Spanish throughout the islands led to the formation of a class of Spanish-speaking intellectuals called the "Ilustrados. Until the Philippine independence in 1898, Spanish was spoken by around 10% of the population as their first and only language. Around 60% of the population spoke Spanish as their second or third language, that makes a total of 70%.[74]

Despite American administration after the defeat of Spain in the "Spanish–American War in 1898, the usage of Spanish continued in Philippine literature and press during the early years of American rule. Gradually, however, the American government began increasingly promoting the use of English, and it characterized Spanish as a negative influence of the past. Eventually, by the 1920s, English became the primary language of administration and education.[75] But despite a significant decrease in influence and speakers, Spanish remained an official language of the Philippines when it became independent in 1946, alongside English and "Filipino, a standardized version of "Tagalog.

Early flag of the "Filipino revolutionaries ("Long live the Philippine Republic!"). The first two constitutions were written in Spanish.

Spanish was removed from official status in 1973 under the administration of "Ferdinand Marcos, but regained its status as an official language two months later under Presidential Decree No. 155, dated 15 March 1973.[76] It remained an official language until 1987, with the ratification of the present constitution, in which it was re-designated as a voluntary and optional auxiliary language.[77] In 2010, President "Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo encouraged the reintroduction of Spanish-language teaching in the Philippine education system.[78] But by 2012, the number of secondary schools at which the language was either a compulsory subject or an elective had become very limited.[79] Today, despite government promotions of Spanish, less than 0.5% of the population report being able to speak the language proficiently.[80] Aside from standard Spanish, a Spanish-based creole language—"Chavacano—developed in the southern Philippines. The number of Chavacano-speakers was estimated at 1.2 million in 1996. However, it is not mutually intelligible with Spanish.[81] Speakers of the Zamboangueño variety of Chavacano were numbered about 360,000 in the 2000 census.[82] The local "languages of the Philippines also retain some Spanish influence, with many words being derived from "Mexican Spanish, owing to the control of the islands by Spain through "Mexico City until 1821, and then directly from Madrid until 1898.[83][84]

Spanish was also used by the colonial governments and educated classes in the former "Spanish East Indies, consisting of modern-day "Guam, "Northern Mariana Islands, "Palau, and "Micronesia, in addition to the Philippines. Spanish loan words are present in the local languages of these territories as a legacy of colonial rule.[85][86] Today, Spanish is not spoken officially in any of these former Spanish territories.

Spanish speakers by country[edit]

The following table shows the number of Spanish speakers in some 79 countries.

Country Population[87] Spanish as a native language speakers[88] Native speakers or very good speakers as a second language[89] Total number of Spanish speakers (including limited competence speakers)[89][90][91]
 "Mexico 123,518,270[92] 114,501,436 (92.7%)[93] 121,665,496 (98.5%)[91]
 "United States 321,442,019[94] 40,045,795 [95] (13.3%)[96] 42,561,531 [23] (82%[97] of the 56.6 mill. Hispanics[98] + 2.8 mill. non Hispanics[99]) 57,515,582[23] (40 million as a first language, 15 million as a second language,[100] 7.8 million students[90] and some of the 9 million undocumented Hispanics not accounted by the Census[101])[102][103][104][105][106][107]
 "Colombia 49,070,000[108] 48,220,000 (850,000 with other mother tongue)[109] 48,677,440 (99.2%)[91]
 "Spain 46,557,008 [110] 42,879,004 (92,1%)[23] 45,998,324 (98.8%)[91]
 "Argentina 44,044,811[111][113] 42,062,795 (95.5%)[114] 43,780,542 (99.4%)[91]
 "Venezuela 31,431,164[115] 30,332,920 (1,098,244 with other mother tongue)[116] 31,053,990 (98.8%)[91]
 "Peru 31,826,018[117] 26,765,681 (84.1%)[118][119] 28,643,416 (86.6%)[91]
 "Chile 18,373,917[120] 18,092,317 (281,600 with other mother tongue)[121] 18,245,300 (99.3%)[91]
 "Ecuador 16,426,000[122] 13,500,000[123] 16,113,906 (98.1%)[91]
 "Guatemala 17,005,000[87] 10,203,000 (60%)[124] 14,692,320 (86.4%)[91]
 "Cuba 11,390,000[87] 11,390,000[125] 11,321,660 (99.4%)[91]
 "Dominican Republic 10,767,000[87] 9,300,000[126] 10,723,932 (99.6%)[91]
 "Bolivia 11,145,770[127] 6,464,547 (58%)[128] 9,797,132 (87.9%)[91]
 "Honduras 8,866,351[129] 8,658,501 (207,750 with other mother tongue)[130] 8,777,687 (99.0%)[91]
 "France 65,635,000[131] 477,564 (1%[132] of 47,756,439[133]) 1,910,258 (4%[134] of 47,756,439[133]) 6,685,901 (14%[135] of 47,756,439[133])
 "El Salvador 6,581,940[136] 6,090,000[137] 6,562,194 (99.7%)[91]
 "Brazil 206,120,000[138] 460,018 [139] 460,018 [139] 6,056,018 (460,018 native speakers + 96,000 limited proficiency + 5,500,000 can hold a conversation)[139]
 "Nicaragua 6,218,000 [87] 5,727,876 (490,124 with other mother tongue)[140] 6,031,460 (97.0%)[91]
 "Italy 60,795,612[141] 255,459 [142] 1,037,248 (2%[134] of 51,862,391[133]) 5,704,863 (11%[135] of 51,862,391[133])
 "Costa Rica 4,890,379[143] 4,806,069 (84,310 with other mother tongue)[144] 4,851,256 (99.2%)[91]
 "Paraguay 6,854,536[145] 3,907,086 (57%)[146] 4,763,903 (69.5%)[91]
 "Panama 3,764,166[147] 3,263,123 (501,043 with other mother tongue)[148] 3,504,439 (93.1%)[91]
 "Uruguay 3,480,222[149] 3,330,022 (150,200 with other mother tongue)[150] 3,441,940 (98.9%)[91]
 "Puerto Rico 3,474,182[151] 3,303,947 (95.1%)[152] 3,432,492 (98.8%)[91]
 "Morocco 34,378,000[153] 6,586[154] 6,586 3,415,000[154][155] (10%)[156]
 "United Kingdom 64 105 700[157] 120,000[158] 518,480 (1%[134] of 51,848,010[133]) 3,110,880 (6%[135] of 51,848,010[133])
 "Philippines 101,562,305[159] 438,882[160] 3,016,773[161][162][163][164][165][166][167]
 "Germany 81,292,400[168] 644,091 (1%[134] of 64,409,146[133]) 2,576,366 (4%[135] of 64,409,146[133])
 "Equatorial Guinea 1,622,000[169] 1,683[170] 918,000[91] (90.5%)[91][171]
 "Romania 21,355,849[172] 182,467 (1%[134] of 18,246,731[133]) 912,337 (5%[135] of 18,246,731[133])
 "Portugal 10,636,888[173] 323,237 (4%[134] of 8,080,915[133]) 808,091 (10%[135] of 8,080,915[133])
 "Canada 34,605,346[174] 439,000[175] 643,800 (87%[176] of 740,000[177])[23] 736,653 [90]
 "Netherlands 16,665,900[178] 133,719 (1%[134] of 13,371,980[133]) 668,599 (5%[135] of 13,371,980[133] )
 "Sweden 9,555,893[179] 77,912 (1%[132] of 7,791,240[133]) 77,912 (1% of 7,791,240) 467,474 (6%[135] of 7,791,240[133])
 "Australia 21,507,717[180] 111,400[181] 111,400 447,175[182]
 "Belgium 10,918,405[183] 89,395 (1%[134] of 8,939,546[133]) 446,977 (5%[135] of 8,939,546[133])
 "Benin 10,008,749 [184] 412,515 (students)[90]
 "Ivory Coast 21,359,000[185] 341,073 (students)[90]
 "Poland 38,092,000 324,137 (1%[134] of 32,413,735[133]) 324,137 (1% of 32,413,735)
 "Austria 8,205,533 70,098 (1%[134] of 7,009,827[133]) 280,393 (4%[135] of 7,009,827[133])
 "Algeria 33,769,669 223,422[154]
 "Belize 333,200[186] 173,597[154] 173,597[154] 195,597[154] (62.8%)[187]
 "Senegal 12,853,259 205,000 (students)[90]
 "Denmark 5,484,723 45,613 (1%[134] of 4,561,264[133]) 182,450 (4%[135] of 4,561,264[133])
 "Israel 7,112,359 130,000[154] 175,231[188]
 "Japan 127,288,419 100,229 [189] 100,229 167,514 (60,000 students)[90]
 "Gabon 1,545,255[190] 167,410 (students)[90]
  "Switzerland 7,581,520 150,782 (2,24%)[191][192] 150,782 165,202 (14,420 students)[193]
 "Ireland 4,581,269[194] 35,220 (1%[134] of 3,522,000[133]) 140,880 (4%[135] of 3,522,000[133])
 "Finland 5,244,749 133,200 (3%[135] of 4,440,004[133])
 "Bulgaria 7,262,675 130,750 (2%[134] of 6,537,510[133]) 130,750 (2%[135] of 6,537,510[133])
 "Bonaire and  "Curaçao 223,652 10,699[154] 10,699[154] 125,534[154]
 "Norway 5,165,800 21,187[195] 103,309[90]
 "Czech Republic 10,513,209[196] 90,124 (1%[135] of 9,012,443[133])
 "Hungary 9,957,731[197] 83,206 (1%[135] of 8,320,614[133])
 "Aruba 101,484[198] 6,800[154] 6,800[154] 75,402[154]
 "Trinidad and Tobago 1,317,714[199] 4,100[154] 4,100[154] 65,886[154] (5%)[200]
 "Cameroon 21,599,100[201] 63,560 (students)[90]
 "Andorra 84,484 33,305[154] 33,305[154] 54,909[154]
 "Slovenia 35,194 (2%[134] of 1,759,701[133]) 52,791 (3%[135] of 1,759,701[133])
 "New Zealand 21,645[202] 21,645 47,322 (25,677 students)[90]
 "Slovakia 5,455,407 45,500 (1%[135] of 4,549,955[133])
 "China 1,339,724,852[203] 30,000 (students)[204]
 "Gibraltar 29,441[205] 22,758 (77.3%[206])
 "Lithuania 2,972,949[207] 28,297 (1%[135] of 2,829,740[133])
 "Luxembourg 524,853 4,049 (1%[132] of 404,907[133]) 8,098 (2%[134] of 404,907[133]) 24,294 (6%[135] of 404,907[133])
 "Russia 143,400,000[208] 3,320[154] 3,320[154] 23,320[154]
 "Western Sahara 513,000[209] n.a.[210] 22,000[154]
 "Guam 19,092[211]
"United States Virgin Islands "US Virgin Islands 16,788[212] 16,788[154] 16,788[154]
 "Latvia 2,209,000[213] 13,943 (1%[135] of 1,447,866[133])
 "Turkey 73,722,988[214] 1,134[154] 1,134[154] 13,480[154][215]
 "Cyprus 2%[135] of 660,400[133]
 "India 1,210,193,422[216] 9,750 (students)[217]
 "Estonia 9,457 (1%[135] of 945,733[133])
 "Jamaica 2,711,476[218] 8,000[219] 8,000[219] 8,000[219]
 "Namibia 3,870[220]
 "Egypt 3,500[221]
 "Malta 3,354 (1%[135] of 335,476[133])
 "European Union (excluding Spain) 460,624,488[222] 2,397,000 (934,984 already counted)[223]
Total 7,362,000,000 (Total World Population)[224] 456,136,615 [2][23] (6.2 %)[225] 493,202,839 [23] (6.7 % ) 540,631,271 [2][23][226] (7.4 %)[227]

Dialectal variation[edit]

A world map attempting to identify the main dialects of Spanish.

There are important variations ("phonological, "grammatical, and "lexical) in the spoken Spanish of the various regions of Spain and throughout the Spanish-speaking areas of the Americas.

The variety with the most speakers is "Mexican Spanish. It is spoken by more than twenty percent of the world's Spanish speakers (more than 112 million of the total of more than 500 million, according to the table above). One of its main features is the "reduction or loss of "unstressed vowels, mainly when they are in contact with the sound /s/.[228][229]

In Spain, northern dialects are popularly thought of as closer to the standard, although positive attitudes toward southern dialects have increased significantly in the last 50 years. Even so, the speech of Madrid, which has typically southern features such as "yeísmo and s-aspiration, is the standard variety for use on radio and television.[230][231][232][233] The educated Madrid variety has most influenced the written standard for Spanish.[234]


The four main phonological divisions are based respectively on (1) the phoneme "/θ/ ("theta"), (2) the "debuccalization of syllable-final /s/, (3) the sound of the spelled ⟨s⟩, (4) and the phoneme "/ʎ/ ("turned y"),[235]


The main grammatical variations between dialects of Spanish involve differing uses of pronouns, especially those of the second "person and, to a lesser extent, the "object pronouns of the third "person.


An examination of the dominance and stress of the voseo dialect in Hispanic America. Data generated as illustrated by the "Association of Spanish Language Academies. The darker the area, the stronger its dominance.

Virtually all dialects of Spanish make the "distinction between a formal and a familiar "register in the "second-person "singular and thus have two different "pronouns meaning "you": usted in the formal and either or vos in the familiar (and each of these three pronouns has its associated verb forms), with the choice of or vos varying from one dialect to another. The use of vos (and/or its verb forms) is called "voseo. In a few dialects, all three pronouns are used, with usted, , and vos denoting respectively formality, familiarity, and intimacy.[237]

In voseo, vos is the "subject form (vos decís, "you say") and the form for the object of a "preposition (voy con vos, "I am going with you"), while the direct and indirect "object forms, and the "possessives, are the same as those associated with : Vos sabés que tus amigos te respetan ("You know your friends respect you").

The verb forms of general voseo are the same as those used with except in the present "tense ("indicative and "imperative) verbs. The forms for vos generally can be derived from those of vosotros (the traditional second-person familiar plural) by deleting the "glide [i̯], or /d/, where it appears in the ending: vosotros pensáis > vos pensás; vosotros volvéis > vos volvés, pensad! (vosotros) > pensá! (vos), volved! (vosotros) > volvé! (vos) .

General voseo ("River Plate Spanish)
Indicative Subjunctive Imperative
Present Simple past Imperfect past Future Conditional Present Past
pensás pensaste pensabas pensarás pensarías pienses pensaras
volvés volviste volvías volverás volverías vuelvas volvieras
dormís dormiste dormías dormirás dormirías duermas durmieras
The forms in bold coincide with standard -conjugation.

In Chilean voseo on the other hand, almost all verb forms are distinct from their standard -forms.

Chilean voseo
Indicative Subjunctive Imperative
Present Simple past Imperfect past Future Conditional Present Past
pensáis pensaste pensabais pensarís pensaríais pensís pensarais
volvís volviste volvíais volverís volveríais volváis volvierais
dormís dormiste dormíais dormirís dormiríais durmáis durmieras
The forms in bold coincide with standard -conjugation.

The use of the pronoun vos with the verb forms of (vos piensas) is called "pronominal voseo". Conversely, the use of the verb forms of vos with the pronoun (tú pensás or tú pensái) is called "verbal voseo".
In Chile, for example, verbal voseo is much more common than the actual use of the pronoun vos, which is usually reserved for highly informal situations.

And in Central American voseo, one can see even further distinction.

Central American voseo
Indicative Subjunctive Imperative
Present Simple past Imperfect past Future Conditional Present Past
pensás pensaste pensabas pensarás pensarías pensés pensaras
volvés volviste volvías volverás volverías volvás volvieras
dormís dormiste dormías dormirás dormirías durmás durmieras
The forms in bold coincide with standard -conjugation.
Distribution in Spanish-speaking regions of the Americas[edit]

Although vos is not used in Spain, it occurs in many Spanish-speaking regions of the Americas as the primary spoken form of the second-person singular familiar pronoun, with wide differences in social consideration. Generally, it can be said that there are zones of exclusive use of tuteo (the use of ) in the following areas: almost all of "Mexico, the West Indies, "Panama, most of "Colombia, "Peru, "Venezuela and coastal "Ecuador.

Tuteo as a cultured form alternates with voseo as a popular or rural form in "Bolivia, in the north and south of Peru, in Andean Ecuador, in small zones of the Venezuelan Andes (and most notably in the Venezuelan state of "Zulia), and in a large part of Colombia. Some researchers maintain that voseo can be heard in some parts of eastern Cuba, and others assert that it is absent from the island.[238]

Tuteo exists as the second-person usage with an intermediate degree of formality alongside the more familiar voseo in "Chile, in the Venezuelan state of "Zulia, on the Caribbean coast of "Colombia, in the "Azuero Peninsula in Panama, in the Mexican state of "Chiapas, and in parts of Guatemala.

Areas of generalized voseo include "Argentina, "Nicaragua, eastern "Bolivia, "El Salvador, "Guatemala, "Honduras, "Costa Rica, "Paraguay, "Uruguay and the Colombian departments of "Antioquia, "Caldas, "Risaralda, "Quindio and "Valle del Cauca.[237]


Ustedes functions as formal and informal second person plural in over 90% of the Spanish-speaking world, including all of Hispanic America, the "Canary Islands, and some regions of "Andalusia. In "Seville, "Huelva, "Cadiz, and other parts of western "Andalusia, the familiar form is constructed as ustedes vais, using the traditional second-person plural form of the verb. Most of Spain maintains the "formal/familiar distinction with ustedes and vosotros respectively.


Usted is the usual second-person singular pronoun in a formal context, but it is used jointly with the third-person singular voice of the verb. It is used to convey respect toward someone who is a generation older or is of higher authority ("you, sir"/"you, ma'am"). It is also used in a familiar context by many speakers in Colombia and Costa Rica and in parts of Ecuador and Panama, to the exclusion of or vos. This usage is sometimes called ustedeo in Spanish.

In Central America, especially in Honduras, usted is often used as a formal pronoun to convey respect between the members of a romantic couple. Usted is also used that way as well as between parents and children in the Andean regions of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.

Third-person object pronouns[edit]

Most speakers use (and the "Real Academia Española prefers) the pronouns lo and la for "direct objects (masculine and feminine respectively, regardless of "animacy, meaning "him", "her", or "it"), and le for "indirect objects (regardless of "gender or "animacy, meaning "to him", "to her", or "to it"). The usage is sometimes called "etymological", as these direct and indirect object pronouns are a continuation, respectively, of the "accusative and "dative pronouns of Latin, the ancestor language of Spanish.

Deviations from this norm (more common in Spain than in the Americas) are called ""leísmo", ""loísmo", or ""laísmo", according to which respective pronoun, le, lo, or la, has expanded beyond the etymological usage (le as a direct object, or lo or la as an indirect object).


Some words can be significantly different 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 (respectively, 'butter', 'avocado', 'apricot') correspond to manteca (word used for "lard in "Peninsular Spanish), palta, and damasco, respectively, in Argentina, Chile (except manteca), Paraguay, Peru (except manteca and damasco), and Uruguay.

Relation to other languages[edit]

Spanish is closely related to the other "West Iberian Romance languages, including "Asturian, "Aragonese, "Galician, "Ladino, "Leonese, "Mirandese and "Portuguese.

It is generally acknowledged that Portuguese- and Spanish-speakers can communicate, although with varying degrees of difficulty.[239][240][241][242] Meanwhile, "mutual intelligibility of the written Spanish and Portuguese languages is very high, given that the difficulties of the spoken forms are based more on phonology than on grammatical and lexical dissimilarities. "Ethnologue gives estimates of the "lexical similarity between related languages in terms of precise percentages. For Spanish and Portuguese, that figure is 89%. Italian, on the other hand—although its phonology is more similar to that of Spanish—is said to have a lexical similarity of 82%. Mutual intelligibility between Spanish and "French or between Spanish and "Romanian is lower still, given lexical similarity ratings of 75% and 71% respectively.[243][244] And comprehension of Spanish by French speakers who have not studied the language is much lower, at an estimated 45%. In general, thanks to the common features of the writing systems of the Romance languages, interlingual comprehension of the written word is greater than that of oral communication.

The following table compares the forms of some common words in several Romance languages:

"Latin Spanish "Galician "Portuguese "Astur-Leonese "Aragonese "Catalan "French "Italian "Romanian "English
nos nosotros/nos nós1 nós1 nós, nosotros nusatros nosaltres
(arch. nós)
nous2 noi/noialtri3 noi 'we'
frater germanum
(lit. "true brother")
hermano irmán irmão hermanu chirmán germà
(arch. frare)4
frère fratello frate 'brother'
dies martis ("Classical)
feria tertia ("Ecclesiastical)
martes martes/terza feira terça-feira martes martes dimarts mardi martedì marți 'Tuesday'
(or canciu)
canta cançó chanson canzone cântec 'song'
(arch. plus)
máis mais
(arch. chus or plus)
más más
(or més)
(arch. pus or plus)
plus più mai/plus 'more'
manus sinistra mano izquierda6
(arch. mano siniestra)
man esquerda6 mão esquerda6
(arch. mão sẽestra)
manu izquierda6
(or esquierda;
also manzorga
man cucha mà esquerra6
(arch. mà sinistra)
main gauche mano sinistra mâna stângă 'left hand'
nullam rem natam
(lit. "no thing born")
nada nada
(also ren and res)
(neca and nula rés
in some expressions; arch. rem)
(also un res
cosa res rien/nul niente/nulla nimic/nul 'nothing'
cāseus formaticus queso queixo queijo quesu queso formatge fromage formaggio/cacio caș7 'cheese'

1. Also nós outros in early modern Portuguese (e.g. "The Lusiads), and nosoutros in Galician.
2. Alternatively nous autres in "French.
3. Also noialtri in Southern "Italian dialects and languages.
4. Medieval Catalan (e.g. "Llibre dels fets).
5. Depending on the written norm used (see "Reintegrationism).
6. From "Basque esku, "hand" + erdi, "half, incomplete". Notice that this negative meaning also applies for Latin sinistra(m) ("dark, unfortunate").
7. Romanian caș (from Latin cāsevs) means a type of cheese. The universal term for cheese in Romanian is brânză (from unknown etymology).[245]


The "Rashi script, originally used to print Judaeo-Spanish.
An original letter in Haketia, written in 1832.

Judaeo-Spanish, also known as Ladino,[246] is a variety of Spanish which preserves many features of medieval Spanish and Portuguese and is spoken by descendants of the "Sephardi Jews who were "expelled from Spain in the fifteenth century.[246] Conversely, in Portugal the vast majority of the Portuguese Jews converted and became 'New Christians'. Therefore, its relationship to Spanish is comparable with that of the "Yiddish language to "German. Ladino speakers today are almost exclusively "Sephardi Jews, with family roots in Turkey, Greece, or the Balkans, and living mostly in Israel, Turkey, and the United States, with a few communities in Hispanic America.[246] Judaeo-Spanish lacks the "Native American vocabulary which was acquired by standard Spanish 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 Spanish, 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.

Writing system[edit]

Spanish is written in the "Latin script, with the addition of the character ⟨"ñ⟩ (eñe, representing the phoneme /"ɲ/, a letter distinct from ⟨n⟩, although typographically composed of an ⟨n⟩ with a "tilde) and the "digraphs ⟨ch⟩ (che, representing the phoneme /t͡ʃ/) and ⟨ll⟩ (elle, representing the phoneme /"ʎ/). However, the digraph ⟨rr⟩ (erre fuerte, 'strong r', erre doble, 'double r', or simply erre), which also represents a distinct phoneme /r/, 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 ⟨cg⟩ and ⟨ci⟩, instead of following ⟨cz⟩ as they used to. The situation is similar for ⟨ll⟩.[247][248]

Thus, the Spanish alphabet has the following 27 letters and 2 digraphs:

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.[249]
Ch,[250] Ll.[251]

The letters k and w are used only in words and names coming from foreign languages (kilo, folklore, whisky, kiwi, etc.).

With the exclusion of a very small number of regional terms such as "México (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 an ⟨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 el ('the', masculine singular definite article) with él ('he' or 'it'), or te ('you', object pronoun) with ('tea'), de (preposition 'of') versus ('give' [formal imperative/third-person present subjunctive]), and se (reflexive pronoun) versus ('I know' or imperative 'be').

The interrogative pronouns (qué, cuál, dónde, quién, etc.) also receive accents in direct or indirect questions, and some demonstratives (ése, éste, aquél, etc.) can be accented when used as pronouns. Accent marks used to be omitted on 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 Real Academia Española advises against this and the orthographic conventions taught at schools enforce the use of the accent.

When u is written between g and a front vowel e or i, it indicates a ""hard g" pronunciation. A "diaeresis ü indicates that it is not silent as it normally would be (e.g., cigüeña, 'stork', is pronounced [θiˈɣweɲa]; if it were written *cigueña, it would be pronounced *[θiˈɣeɲa]).

Interrogative and exclamatory clauses are introduced with "inverted question and exclamation marks (¿ and ¡, respectively).


The "Royal Spanish Academy Headquarters in "Madrid, "Spain.

Royal Spanish Academy[edit]

Arms of the Royal Spanish Academy

The Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy), founded in 1713,[252] 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.[253] 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.

Association of Spanish Language Academies[edit]

Countries members of the ASALE.[254]

The Association of Spanish Language Academies (Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española, or ASALE) is the entity which regulates the Spanish language. It was created in Mexico in 1951 and represents the union of all the separate academies in the Spanish-speaking world. It comprises the academies of 22 countries, ordered by date of Academy foundation: "Spain (1713),[255] "Colombia (1871),[256] "Ecuador (1874),[257] "Mexico (1875),[258] "El Salvador (1876),[259] "Venezuela (1883),[260] "Chile (1885),[261] "Peru (1887),[262] "Guatemala (1887),[263] "Costa Rica (1923),[264] "Philippines (1924),[265] "Panama (1926),[266] "Cuba (1926),[267] "Paraguay (1927),[268] "Dominican Republic (1927),[269] "Bolivia (1927),[270] "Nicaragua (1928),[271] "Argentina (1931),[272] "Uruguay (1943),[273] "Honduras (1949),[274] "Puerto Rico (1955),[275] and "United States (1973).[276]

Cervantes Institute[edit]

"Cervantes Institute headquarters, "Madrid

The Instituto Cervantes (Cervantes Institute) is a worldwide non-profit organization created by the Spanish government in 1991. This organization has branched out in over 20 different countries with 54 centers devoted to the Spanish and Hispanic American culture and Spanish Language. The ultimate goals of the Institute are to promote the education, the study and the use of Spanish universally as a second language, to support the methods and activities that would help the process of Spanish language education, and to contribute to the advancement of the Spanish and Hispanic American cultures throughout non-Spanish-speaking countries.

Official use by international organizations[edit]

Spanish is one of the official languages of the "United Nations, the "European Union, the "World Trade Organization, the "Organization of American States, the "Organization of Ibero-American States, the "African Union, the "Union of South American Nations, the "Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, the "Latin Union, the "Caricom, the "North American Free Trade Agreement, and numerous other international organizations.

See also[edit]


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  4. ^ Note that in English, "Castilian" or "Castilian Spanish" may be understood as referring to "European Spanish ("Spanish Spanish") to the exclusion of dialects in the New World or to "Castilian Spanish to the exclusion of any other dialect, rather than as a synonym for the entire language.
  5. ^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in "Nationalencyklopedin. Asterisks mark the 2010 estimates for the top dozen languages.
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  9. ^ Según la revista "Ethnology en su edición de octubre de 2009 ( Archived 23 March 2010 at the "Wayback Machine.)
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  73. ^ "Historia de un país" (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
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  88. ^ Ethnologue, 18th Ed.: es:Anexo:Hablantes de español según Ethnologue (edición 18).
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  93. ^ "MX", The World Factbook, USA: CIA : Spanish only 92.7%
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  95. ^ Spanish speakers older than 5 years old (Table, US: Census Bureau, 2015 )
  96. ^ Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder – Results". 
  97. ^ Taylor, Paul. "(2011)". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  98. ^ "Census Bureau (01/July/2015)". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  99. ^ Gonzalez, Ana (13 August 2013). "(2011)". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  100. ^ "United States". 
  101. ^ There are 9 million illegal Hispanics in USA, some of them aren't in the census (Pálidos de hambre (editorial) (in Spanish), Impre, 19 April 2009 )
  102. ^ Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española, El castellano 
  103. ^ Ansón, José Ma, José Ma. Ansón: "Casi cincuenta millones" hablan español en EE. UU., El Castellano 
  104. ^ "La amenaza al idioma español – Voces de Univision". Archived from the original on 11 October 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  105. ^ Rodríguez Barilari, Elbio, Congresos de la lengua (in Spanish), ES 
  106. ^ Más de 70 expertos participaran en la III Acta Internacional de la Lengua Española (in Spanish), ES: ABC de Sevilla, 29 March 2008 
  107. ^ CNN en español restructures its programming, The New York Times, 13 March 2011  (The United States is now the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, with more Spanish speakers than Spain, and exceeded only by Mexico).
  108. ^ "Reloj animado" (in Spanish). CO: DANE. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  109. ^ There are 850,000 speakers of American Indian languages ("CO", Ethnologue, archived from the original on 26 March 2014 )
  110. ^ "Datos básicos" (in Spanish). ES: INE. 1 January 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  111. ^ "Argentinian census INDEC estimate for 2017". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  112. ^ a b Estimaciones y proyecciones de población 2010-2040: Total del país, INDEC, 2013 
  113. ^ 40,872,286 people is the census population result for 2010[112]
  114. ^ According to Ethnologue (see "Argentina". Ethnologue ), there were 40,3 million speakers Spanish as mother tongue in 2013. The Argentinian population in 2013 was projected to be 42,2 million.[112]
  115. ^ "Proyecciones de Población".  (2017)
  116. ^ "Languages", VE, Ethnologue, There are 1,098,244 people who speak other language as their mother tongue (main languages: Chinese 400,000, Portuguese 254,000, Wayuu 199,000, Arabic 110,000) 
  117. ^ Quispe Fernández, Ezio (2017). "Cifras" [Numbers] (PDF) (in Spanish). "PE: INEI. 
  118. ^ "Census", The World factbook, "US: CIA, 2007, Spanish (official) 84.1%, Quechua (official) 13%, Aymara 1.7%, Ashaninka 0.3%, other native languages (includes a large number of minor Amazonian languages) 0.7%, other 0.2% 
  119. ^ "PE", Country, Ethnologue, There are 5,782,260 people who speak other language as mother tongue (main languages: Quechua (among 32 Quechua's varieties) 4,773,900, Aymara (2 varieties) 661 000, Chinese 100,000). 
  120. ^ "Informes" [Reports] (PDF). Proyecciones (in Spanish). "CL: INE. 2017. p. 36. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2010. 
  121. ^ "CL", Country, Ethnologue, There are 281,600 people who speak another language, mainly Mapudungun (250.000) 
  122. ^ "Estimate", Pop. clock ("SWF), "EC: INEC 
  123. ^ Ethnologue (19 February 1999). "(2011)". Ethnologue. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  124. ^ "GT", The World factbook, CIA, Spanish (official) 60%, Amerindian languages 40% 
  125. ^ "Cuba". Country (report). Ethnologue. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  126. ^ Ethnologue (19 February 1999). "(2011)". Ethnologue. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  127. ^ "(2017)". INE. Archived from the original on 11 October 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2010. 
  128. ^ According to the 1992 Census, 58 per cent of the population speaks Spanish as its mother tongue.
  129. ^ "INE (2017 estimate)". Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 
  130. ^ There are 207,750 people who speak another language, mainly Garifuna (98,000).: Ethnologue
  131. ^ "INSEE estimate to 1/11/2012". Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  132. ^ a b c Eurobarometr 2012 (page T40): Native speakers.
  133. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap Eurobarometr 2012 (page TS2): Population older than 15. (age scale used for the Eurobarometer survey)
  134. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Eurobarometr 2012 (page T74): Non native people who speak Spanish very well.
  135. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Eurobarometr 2012 (page T64): Non native people who speak Spanish well enough in order to be able to have a conversation.
  136. ^ Census 2017 estimate (page 32) Archived 6 October 2011 at the "Wayback Machine.
  137. ^ There are 14,100 people who speak other language as their mother tongue (main language, Kekchí with 12,300 speakers): Ethnologue.
  138. ^ IBGE population estimation [IBGE publishes the populational estimates for municipalities in 2 011] (in Portuguese), BR, 2016 
  139. ^ a b c Informe 2017 (PDF), "ES: Instituto Cervantes, 2017, pp. 7, 12 
  140. ^ There are 490,124 people who speak another language, mainly Mískito (154,000).: Ethnologue
  141. ^ "Eurostat 2015 estimation". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  142. ^ "Languages of Italy
  143. ^ "ENEC estimation to 2016". INEC. Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 
  144. ^ "Costa Rica". Ethnologue. 
  145. ^ "DGEEC::Dirección General de Estadística, Encuestas y Censos" (PDF). 
  146. ^ According to the 1992 census, 50% use both Spanish and the indigenous language Guarani at home, 37% speak Guarani only, 7% speak Spanish About 75 percent can speak
  147. ^ Census INE estimate for 2013 Archived 7 October 2011 at the "Wayback Machine. (véase "Proyección de Población por municipio 2008–2020")
  148. ^ There are 501,043 people who speak another language as mother tongue: PA, Ethnologue 
  149. ^ "2016 INE estimation". 2016. 
  150. ^ There are 150,200 people who speak another language as mother tongue, UY, Ethnologue 
  151. ^ "2015 US. census Bureau". Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 December 2015. 
  152. ^ 95.10% of the population speaks Spanish (US. Census Bureau)
  153. ^ "World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revi sion, Key Findings and Advance Tables" (PDF). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division. p. 15. Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  154. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab El español en el mundo [Spanish in the world] (PDF), "ES: Instituto Cervantes, 2012, p. 6 
  155. ^ El español en el contexto Sociolingüístico marroquí: Evolución y perspectivas (page 39): Between 4 and 7 million people have Spanish knowledge (M. Ammadi, 2002) Archived 6 November 2013 at the "Wayback Machine.
  156. ^ "Euromonitor, 2012" (PDF). p. 32. 
  157. ^ "Annual Mid year Population Estimates: 2013". U.K. Gov. Census. 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2016. 
  158. ^ "Languages of the United Kingdom
  159. ^ Medium projection, PH: National Statistics Office, 2015 
  160. ^ "native knowledge speakers" (in Spanish). 18 February 2009. Archived from the original on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  161. ^ 1,816,773 Spanish + 1,200,000 Spanish creole: Quilis, Antonio (1996), La lengua española en Filipinas (PDF), Cervantes virtual, p. 54 and 55 
  162. ^ Ten Reasons (PDF), ES: Mepsyd, p. 23 
  163. ^ Philippines, Spanish differences, archived from the original on 21 December 2012 
  164. ^ Spanish in the world 2012 (Instituto Cervantes): 3,017,265 Spanish speakers. 439,000 with native knowledge, 2,557,773 with limited knowledge (page 6), and 20,492 Spanish students (page 10).
  165. ^ Nestor Diaz: More than 2 million Spanish speakers and around 3 million with Chavacano speakers (24 April 2010). "FILIPINAS / Vigoroso regreso del español". Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  166. ^ The figure of 2 900 000 Spanish speakers is in Thompson, RW, Pluricentric languages: differing norms in different nations, p. 45 
  167. ^ World wide Spanish language, Sispain 
  168. ^ German census, DE: Destatis, 31 March 2015 
  169. ^ "Equatorial Guinea census". Population statistics. 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2010. 
  170. ^ Spanish according to INE 2011
  171. ^ 14% of the population speaks Spanish natively and other 74% as a second language: "Anuario", CVC (PDF) (in Spanish), ES: Cervantes, 2007 
  172. ^ "Eurostat (1/1/2012 estimate)". 17 October 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  173. ^ Eurostat 1 January 2010
  174. ^ Statcan, CA: GC 
  175. ^ "". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  176. ^ 87% of the Hispanics, speak Spanish.
  177. ^ There are 740,000 Hispanics in Canada in 2015, according to "Hispanovation: La creciente influencia hispánica en Canadá" (Social Media Week in Toronto):,
  178. ^ "Netherland Census ClockPop". Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  179. ^ 2012 censusArchived 5 November 2013 at the "Wayback Machine.
  180. ^ "2011 Census". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  181. ^ "2071.0 – Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012–2013". Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  182. ^ Page 32 of the "Demografía de la lengua española"
  183. ^ "Eurostat estimate to 1/1/2011". 2 April 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  184. ^ "Accueil - INSAE". 
  185. ^ " Census, 2009". 
  186. ^ (2009 mid-year) Archived 9 December 2013 at the "Wayback Machine.
  187. ^ Page 32 of Demografía de la lengua española (52,1% native speakers + 11,7% with some Spanish knowledge))
  188. ^ Pages 34, 35 of the "Demografía de la lengua española", page 35.
  189. ^ Peruvian immigrants in 2012
  190. ^ 2015 estimate
  191. ^ Statistik, Bundesamt für. "Bevölkerung". 
  192. ^ 111,942 Spaniards in 2016 (INE) + 17,113 Peruvians in 2012 ([1]) + 5706 Argentines in 2012 ([2]) + 2864 Chileans in 2012
  193. ^ " (annuary 2006–07)" (PDF). 
  194. ^ [3] Archived 30 November 2011 at the "Wayback Machine.
  195. ^ "". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  196. ^ "" (in Czech). 31 December 2013. Archived from the original on 31 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  197. ^ "(2012)". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  198. ^ "Resultado 2010 – Persona". 6 October 2010. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  199. ^ [4] Archived 7 January 2012 at the "Wayback Machine.
  200. ^
  201. ^ Evolution de la population par sexe de 1976 à 2012 en: Annuaire Statistique du Cameroun 2010. Consultado el 23 August 2012.
  202. ^ "New Zealand census (2006)". 13 February 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  203. ^ "Press Release on Major Figures of the 2010 National Population Census". Archived from the original on 18 April 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  204. ^ 25,000 Spanish students in the university + 5,000 in the "Instituto Cervantes" (page 4)
  205. ^ "Statistics – FAQ's". 12 November 2012. Archived from the original on 5 January 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  206. ^ (5.2. Datos descriptivos de los usos de español e inglés, Gráfico 2). 77.3% of the Gibraltar population speak Spanish with their mother more, or equal than English.
  207. ^ "(2013)". Archived from the original on 19 August 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  208. ^ "Демография". 27 December 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  209. ^ "2009 estimate" (PDF). UN. 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2010. 
  210. ^ The Spanish 1970 census claims 16.648 Spanish speakers in Western Sahara ([5]) but probably most of them were people born in Spain who left after the Moroccan annexation
  211. ^ Page 34 of the Demografía de la Lengua Española
  212. ^ "2010 Census". Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  213. ^ "Population – Key Indicators | Latvijas statistika". Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  214. ^ "::Welcome to Turkish Statistical Institute(TurkStat)'s Web Pages::". TurkStat. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  215. ^ 8,000 (Page 37 of the Demografía de la lengua española) + 4,346 Spanish Students (according to the Instituto Cervantes)
  216. ^ "Census of India : Provisional Population Totals : India :Census 2011". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  217. ^ " (page 6)" (PDF). Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  218. ^ "Jamaican Population". Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  219. ^ a b c Languages of Jamaica,
  220. ^ El español en Namibia, 2005. "Instituto Cervantes.
  221. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  222. ^ "Eurostat – Tables, Graphs and Maps Interface (TGM) table". 17 October 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  223. ^ Demografía de la lengua española, page 37 (2,397,000 people speak Spanish as a native language in the E.U. excluded Spain, but It is already counted population who speak Spanish as a native language in France (477,564), Italy (255,459), U.K. (120,000) Sweden (77,912) and Luxemburg (4,049)).
  224. ^ "International Programs – People and Households – U.S. Census Bureau". 5 January 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  225. ^ 426,515,910 speakers L1 in 2012 (ethnologue) of 7,097,500,000 people in the World in 2012 (UN): 6%.
  226. ^ "The 30 Most Spoken Languages in the World". KryssTal. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  227. ^ 517,824,310 speakers L1 and L2 in 2012 (ethnologue) of 7,097,500,000 people in the World in 2012 (UN): 7.3%.
  228. ^ Eleanor Greet Cotton, John M. Sharp (1988) Spanish in the Americas, Volume 2, pp.154–155, URL
  229. ^ Lope Blanch, Juan M. (1972) En torno a las vocales caedizas del español mexicano, pp.53 a 73, Estudios sobre el español de México, editorial Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México URL.
  230. ^ Random House Unabridged Dictionary. Random House Inc. 2006. 
  231. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company. 2006. 
  232. ^ Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 1998. 
  233. ^ Encarta World English Dictionary. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. 2007. Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2008. 
  234. ^ Penny, Ralph (2000). Variation and Change in Spanish. Cambridge University Press. p. 199. "ISBN "0-521-78045-4. whatever might be claimed by other centres, such as Valladolid, it was educated varieties of Madrid Spanish that were mostly regularly reflected in the written standard. 
  235. ^ The "IPA symbol "turned y" (ʎ), with its "tail" leaning to the right, resembles, but is technically different from, the Greek letter lambda (λ), whose tail leans to the left.
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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