Spanish in Mexico VS. Spanish in Spain

I have no problem admitting that although I’m fluent in Spanish, it is by no means perfect- I’ve still got a lot to learn and work on to truly ‘master’ it! Though I’m Mexican and was actually born there, I moved away when I was just three years old meaning that I never formally learned Spanish. Everything I know is what I learned at home, and on my visits to see family in Mexico.

However, I did think my Spanish skills were sufficient enough that life in Spain would be easy breezy in terms of navigating everyday life situation. But boy was I wrong! Though Mexican Spanish and Spanish Spanish are for the most part are grammatically and structurally the same, accents definitely vary and certain words have totally different meanings*.

My mom (pictured above) always spoke to us in Mexican Spanish at home, so it’s what I know- pictured is her, my stepdad and I during their visit in Seville

*That being said, I must also go on a mini tangent and acknowledge that accents vary so widely within Spain itself so you can hear a wide range of regional dialects depending on where you go. For example, last year in Valladolid I was often reminded that Castellano, or Spanish, originated in that region of Spain so their Spanish was the ‘perfect’ version. Down south, it’s spoken in a much more relaxed almost sing songy way, which makes it a bit more difficult to understand. There is less enunciating and parts of words often dropped off.  So much so that it is often said that  “Andalusians eat their words,” meaning that fragments of sound are never pronounced or said. For example, instead of saying ‘ma-es-tra ven para aca’ (teacher, can you come over here) , they might say something more like ‘ma-etra ven pa’ca’. So yes, Spaniards obviously have a more common Spanish dialect with each other than with Mexico and other Latin American countries, but it is by no means homogenous.

Spain is a big country with many autonomous regions- though they all speak Spanish, almost every region has something that makes their Spanish distinct

Anyways, back to the original point, the Spanish I was used to was in many ways different than the Mexican Spanish I grew up with. I compiled a non exhaustive list of words and or phrases that took some getting used to:

  1. English: cellphone
    Mexico: celular VS. Spain: movil
  2. English: Pen
    Mexico: lapicero VS. Spain: boli (boligrapho)
  3. English: tuna
    Mexico:atun VS. Spain: bonito
  4. English: to grab
    Mexico: tomar Spain: cojer
    *In Mexico cojer means to f**k, so things could get awkward if you don’t know this little detail before traveling there
  5. English: to f**k (pardon my French)
    Mexico: cojer VS Spain: foyar

    In Mexico, “tomas un vino” while in Spain, you “bebes un vino”
  6. English: to drink
    Mexico: tomar VS. Spain: beber
  7. English: bra
    Mexico: brasier VS. Spain: sujetador
  8. English: tortilla and spanish omelette, two very different things
    Mexico: quiche de patata VS. Spain: tortilla
    * of course in Mexico, a tortilla is a flatbread usually made from corn or flour and used in many national dishes. However, in Spain, it is basically a potato and egg omelette


  9. English: dude/dudette (lol)
    Mexico: wuey? (not too sure about this one, but it’s definitely not what the they say in Spain) VS. Spain: tio/toa
  10. English: cool
    Mexico: chido/padre VS. Spain: maja or majo/guay
  11. English: them/you guys, you all or any variation of that
    Mexico:  ustedes VS. Spain: vos/vosotros
  12. English: car
    Mexico: carro  VS. Spain: coach coche
    *coche can be said as well, but if you use ‘Carro’ in Spain, people might be confused
  13. English: juice
    Mexico: jugo VS. Spain: zumo

    Juice is said differently- Mexico: Jugo de naranja, Spain: zumo de naranja
  14. English: peach
    Mexico: durazno VS. Spain: melecoton
  15. English: to shower
    Mexico: banar VS. Spain: duchar

    Shrimp is tasty whether it’s called camarones or gambas
  16. English: shrimp
    Mexico: cameron VS. Spain: gamba
  17. English: apartment
    Mexico: apartamento VS. Spain: piso
  18. English: hanger
    Mexico: gancho VS. Spain: percha
  19. English: hungover
    Mexico: crudo VS. Spain: resaca

And the list honestly goes on and on and on. Like I mentioned before, though Mexicans and Spaniards can of course communicate easily using each respective version of Spanish, there are tons of minor differences in both accent and word meaning that are important to note! In any case, I do think that my Spanish has improved a bit since living abroad, so that’s all I can really ask for:) I now know more about Mexican Spanish and Spanish Spanish so it’s a win win.

Sinceramente, Gigi



2 Replies to “Spanish in Mexico VS. Spanish in Spain”

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