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4 Grammar Hints to Speak Spanish Like a Spaniard

4 Grammar Hints to Speak Spanish Like a Spaniard

Every Spanish-speaking country has its own unique way of speaking the Spanish language. Here are some tips on how to speak Spanish like a Spaniard.

1. Use the vosotros form

If you studied Spanish in school, you have probably at least heard of the vosotros form. However, most teachers brush over it and never really teach it since it is not used in most Spanish-speaking countries. While that may be true, it’s extremely common in Spain so using it and understanding it is essential if you want to blend in with the Spaniards.
Vosotros is an informal plural of “you.” Ustedes is also a plural of “you,” but it can be considered more formal. So, in Spain, if you are speaking to a group of friends you will want to use the Vosotros form. Here’s a quick reference guide:

Quick Reference Guide Vosotros Form

2. Use vosotros commands

The vosotros form also has its own commands, broken into two sections: affirmative commands and negative commands. Luckily, the affirmative are ridiculously easy to learn. All you have to do is to replace the R with a D on the verb infinitive, and you’re done.

Hablar – Hablad
Comer – Comed
Vivir – Vivid

Negative commands require these conjugations:
Hablar – No habléis
Comer – No comáis
Escribir – No escribáis

The only exception is for reflexive verbs (those ending in -se), for example, irse, comerse, pararse, etc.

For affirmative reflexive commands simply drop the R and add -OS to the end of the word:
Levantarse – Levantaos
Sorprenderse – Sorprendeos
Vestirse – Vestíos (IR verbs require an accent mark over the I)

And for the negative commands for reflexive verbs:
Levantarse – No os levantáis
Sorprenderse – No os sorprendáis
Vestirse – No os vestáis

3. Use the “th” sound

Spaniards pronounce certain letters with a “th” sound, which to foreigners may sound something like a lisp, but it is actually just their accent. If a word starts with a C or Z, you’ll pronounce it with a “TH” sound as in the English word think. This is known as the Spanish ceceo. Latin American pronunciation is distinguished by the seseo, or the pronunciation of S, C and Z as S which is different from the ceceo of Spain mentioned above.

Cerdo – therdo
Zapatos – thapatos

The “th” sound also comes out when words end in D, like in the command forms I just mentioned.
Hablad – Hablath
Sed – seth


4. Use Leísmo

Although leísmo is technically grammatically incorrect, it is widely accepted as part of the Spanish dialect. Leísmo involves using the indirect pronoun “le” or “les” instead of the masculine direct object pronoun “lo” or “los.”

Veo el hombre (I see the man) is the basic sentence.
Lo veo is the sentence using a direct pronoun in standard Spanish.
Le veo would be the typical sentence from a Spaniard, using the indirect pronoun le.

It is important to note that the noun being replaced must be a person, not an object, for the rule bending of leísmo to apply.

Can you share any of your experiences with Spanish from Spain? How is it different from other versions of Spanish you have heard?

Check out these other Spain Spanish Slang Expressions articles.

Featured photo credit: sermarr erGuiri via photo pin cc

  • MargaretNahmias

    The only expection  is irse  idos. but mostly that rules exists avoid confusing for the present  participle.   My experience in talking with Spaniards is that the vocabulary is diferent.  For example cuadra is a cow stable.  The th sound is only in the North. In the South is similar to Latin American Spanish.

    • JaredRomey

      MargaretNahmias Thank you Margaret.  I knew abou the irse exception and completely forgot to include it.  Good eye!

  • Yupmeister

    El seseo is also a thing that distinguishes Spaniards from other speakers, although it is part of pronunciation not something that is easy to do. The use of vosotros is the easiest thing to copy them and you could say voshotrosh hableish. Other Spanish speakers have a quiet chuckle when they hear it

  • Carrie

    A pretty significant error in this article that should be pointed out:
    – The use of the ceceo isn’t dependent on whether or not a word starts with C or Z. What about “coche”? “cuchillo”? “crema”? These all start with C but certainly aren’t pronounced “thoche”, “thuchillo”, or “threma”. What IS important is the letter that follows the C, no matter where that C falls in the word. If a C is followed by A, O, U, or a consonant, it maintains its hard C (/k/) sound, as in the examples previously listed (“koche”, “kuchillo”, “krema”.) If the letter E or I follows (“ciento”, “Barcelona” – in which the C is sounded as /s/ in most of the Spanish-speaking world) then the ceceo comes into play (“thiento”, “Barthelona”.) The letter Z is always pronounced as a ceceo (“zurdo”, “caza” are “thurdo” and “catha”.)
    Also, the negative vosotros command for levantarse is incorrect. It should read “no os levantéis”, not “no os levantáis”.

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  • Carlos

    Some corrections:

    No os levantáis — WRONG
    No os levantéis — RIGHT (I assume it was meant to be a subjunctive)

    No os vestáis — WRONG
    No os vistáis — RIGHT

    Hablad – Hablath
    Sed – seth
    Should be pronounced as it reads –with final d– although in some places (Madrid) might be pronounced with a th sound and in other places (Andalucía) is not pronunced at all. But d is the correct sound.

  • Ngânn Ngânn

    Muchas gracias por el lección muy fantástico. Estoy estudiando español por 1 año en un Universidad Naccional. Y quiero saber español más.
    Por favor seguirme en SU :)

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