Which Spanish Do You Speak?

Like English, Spanish is a truly global language, but its usage varies from country to country. This doesn't mean that a Spaniard wouldn't understand a Mexican, or vice versa. But it is true that communication may be more difficult, not so much because of grammar, but more due to wide variations in vocabulary. Spanish grammar does vary significantly across borders regarding the use of tense and aspect, but somehow communication remains fluid. Vocabulary is a different issue. You can surmise what a Spanish speaker means if you know the lexicon, no matter what tense that person uses. However, if you don't know the lexicon, you will be left with aching gaps in your comprehension. When learning the Spanish language, it is very important that you are aware of its international variants. Most people might choose to follow one variant, but it is even better to study them all - insofar as the Global Village continues to grow. The demand now is to be open to linguistic divergence, not only in terms of pronunciation, but also regarding vocabulary and grammar, and even for common usage rules. Whether it's a Colombian, a Mexican or a Castilian (Spain) accent, for instance, it is worthwhile for Spanish language learners to distinguish important differences between them. Learners should focus on one version and develop their Spanish based on that variant; but I recommend that at least they learn differences between Latin American and Castilian Spanish. If you're a learner, this approach will make your Spanish much more complete, and you'll be secure in the knowledge that you can adapt to local conditions. It will also help you avoid embarrassing situations: Imagine that a foreigner asks an American for a rubber. The foreigner's English is of the British variety, so of course that person is asking for an eraser, but think of the American's reaction when the meaning of that word is a slang term for 'condom' in the USA. Likewise, if you can use Spanish contextually, it will sound great to local native ears. For example, it would be odd to hear carro or plata in Spain when referring to car and money, which a Spaniard would usually call coche and dinero. This is partly because we use those words for different items; carro, for instance, is a wagon, so it sounds somewhat funny. If you are in Mexico, the opposite will probably happen. If you talk about carro and plata, that would be perfectly normal, and you won't be pointed out as a foreigner. It may not be a problem to make yourself understood in most occasions, but Spanish grammar remains important because it might lead to miscomprehension too. For example, a Latin American would say something like Estamos felices que vosotros/ustedes van a venir; a Spaniard would use a completely different construction to express the same idea: Nos alegramos de que vay