While Spanish is a Romance language and English is a Germanic language, both languages were affected by Romance origins. Many years ago, while these languages were still in their infancy, they began to merge as communication between Germanic and Roman peoples expanded. As a result, current Spanish and modern English share many similarities, and the Foreign Service Institute believes Spanish to be one of the languages most closely linked to English. Much of the grammar, vocabulary, and structure are comparable, showing that you selected a good second language to study!
Every language, like Spanish, is a system, and by learning each element of the system, people may begin to build sentences, allowing them to interact with others who understand the same system. While the Spanish system may appear alien at first appearance, it is actually extremely similar to the English system. Many of the structures, regulations, and even words are nearly identical.
1. Spanish and English language used the same Roman alphabets
Although Spanish has an additional letter and symbol to learn on top of the English alphabet, it has a lot more in common than not. In 2010, the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) determined that only the constitutes a separate letter of the Spanish alphabet, bringing the total to 27 letters. Aside from that, the specific sounds of the Spanish alphabet are extremely simple to learn, even simpler than English!
Despite differing opinions on the number of vowel sounds, it is believed that there are more than five symbols that represent these vowel sounds in English. On the contrary, with the exception of diphthongs (two vowels in a single syllable), Spanish vowels have only one sound and will always make that sound, regardless of where they are in a word. Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll be able to speak and spell Spanish with confidence in no time.
2. Spanish and English have thousands of cognates.
Cognates are words that have nearly identical spellings in two different languages and, more often than not, have nearly identical meanings.
Of course, remembering these words is far easier than learning new ones. By studying the cognates between English and Spanish, you can quickly add hundreds of new words to your vocabulary! It’s made even easier by the fact that identifying cognates is somewhat systematic.
Certain word endings, such as the Spanish ending -ción to the English ending -tion, almost always translate to the same word from Spanish to English. You’ll be surprised at how much Spanish and English have in common in terms of cognates and borrowed words, and how much you can learn with these in just a few hours. But keep an eye out for false cognates!
3. Similar sentence syntax
One of the first things you’ll notice in Spanish is that the adjective comes after the noun rather than before it, as it does in English. Sure, it takes some getting used to, but most of the word order in a sentence in Spanish remains the same as in English. The syntax of Spanish and English is very similar when compared to most other languages. To make matters even better, the syntax in Spanish is far less strict. If one word is said in a different order in English, it will sound very strange and will most likely be noticed or misunderstood. However, in Spanish, there are usually several ways to put a sentence together.
When we ask a question in Spanish, for example, we don’t have to worry about the extra words in the sentence. There’s no need for does, is, are, or any of the other tricky auxiliary verbs that make an English sentence proper. The subject is usually omitted in a question because the conjugation of the verb already states who is doing the action, and as long as you follow the few basic rules of Spanish syntax, you’ll be fine.
Here are a couple of different ways to ask the same questions in Spanish:
¿Vas conmigo? / ¿Conmigo vas? (Are you coming with me?)
¿Habla español Joel? / ¿Habla Joel español? (Does Joel speak Spanish?)
4. Pluralization Guide
To keep things simple, both languages add -s or -es to the end of words to make them plural.
The article preceding the noun, as well as any accompanying adjectives, must change in addition to the noun changing to its plural form.
The process of pluralizing articles is as follows:
El is the masculine singular form of “the,” and it becomes los when used with a plural noun. The feminine singular form of “the” is la, and the plural is las. (These are just two examples of articles that change when they are pluralized.) More of them can be found here.) The adjectives preceding a noun also need to be pluralized. Pluralizing adjectives is similar to pluralizing nouns, which is done by simply adding –s to the end of the word. To tie everything together, here are a few examples:
El gato negro (the black cat) — Los gatos negros (the black cats)
La rosa roja (the red rose) — Las rosas rojas (the red roses)
5. Word Contractions
While English has dozens of contractions and Spanish only has a few, they do exist!
There may be more contractions depending on where you are in Spain, but almost all Spanish speakers will be familiar with these two: del and al. Because Spanish does not use apostrophes, they may appear to be contractions at first, but they are still the same concept. The contraction del is derived from the two extremely common words de + el, which are frequently used together in a sentence. De is a preposition that means “of” or “from,” and el is an article that means “the.”
Here is an example of this contraction being used in a sentence:
Este cuarto es del profesor. (This is the professor’s room.) (Literally: This room is of the professor.)
The contraction al comes from a + el. The preposition a is used in a large variety of ways, but most often in this case as “to.” The contraction is used when wanting to say “to the,” if “the” precedes a masculine noun.
It may not be very straightforward right now. But let’s have a look at another example of it in a sentence:
Vamos al mercado is used instead of Vamos a el mercado. (We are going to the market.)
Quite simple; right? You have learned the contractions in Spanish, in just a few minutes!
6. Capitalizing letters and Punctuation
Learning Spanish is not as difficult as learning some other languages that do not use any capitalization or punctuation (some languages, such as Thai, do not even use spaces between words!). Many of the same words are capitalised in Spanish, and much of the same punctuation is used; they just use less of it and sometimes in a different way. Here are a few examples of when Spanish capitalization rules are the same as English capitalization rules:
A sentence’s first word.
Nouns with proper nouns (names of people, countries).
Titles, but most of the time it is just the first word. (For instance, “Cien aos de soledad” [One Hundred Years of Solitude])
And here are some examples of when it isn’t:
Languages, nationalities, and religions are all examples of diversity.
Days, months, and seasons are all examples of time units.
Hello there (I).
Here are a few examples of when Spanish punctuation is the same as English punctuation:
A period is used at the end of a sentence.
Commas are used within sentences in accordance with the majority of the same rules.
And here are some examples of when it isn’t:
Question marks and exclamation points are used at the beginning and end of sentences. (How are you? [How are you doing?])
When it comes to numbers, the period and comma actually mean the opposite of what they do in English. (In Spanish, 1,000 is written as 1.000, and 1.5 is written as 1,5, though many sources, particularly in Mexico and Central America, have begun to adopt the English system.)
Fortunately, this part of the Spanish language is so similar to English that it would be extremely rare for any of the above to cause a misunderstanding, so we can finally relax a little.
However, knowing how to capitalise and punctuate in the same way that Spanish speakers do when writing in their language is always a plus! And this is one of the most basic and quick aspects of Spanish that you can learn.
7. Last but not least, learning to read and write in English and Spanish, uses the same basic processes such as phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, comprehension, writing mechanics!
Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and 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 the Caribbean States, the African Union and many other international organizations. Modern Spanish was then taken to the viceroyalties of the Spanish Empire beginning in 1492, most notably to America, as well as territories in Africa and the Philippines. Today, it is a global language with nearly 500 million native speakers, mainly in Spain and America. It is the world’s second-most spoken native language after Mandarin Chinese, and the world’s fourth-most spoken language overall after English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi.
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