Similarities and Differences Between English and Spanish (2024)

Similarities and Differences Between English and Spanish (1)

August 18, 2021 by Luis F. Dominguez Homeschooling 0 comments

Have you ever wondered why there are so many similarities between English and Spanish? If you still haven’t noticed them, let me help you with this useful comparison guide for Spanish learners.

The common characteristics that English and Spanish share make learning Spanish easier for native English speakers despite the undeniable differences between the two languages.

Keep reading this post where I will explain the main similarities between English and Spanish, some of their basic grammar differences, and share my unique personal experience on the subject.

English vs Spanish

How different or how similar are these two languages? Well, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. While they aren’t the most similar languages in the world, they aren’t the most different either.

For instance, Spanish is more closely related to Portuguese and Italian, while English is closer to German and Dutch. However, Spanish and English are more closely related to one another than they are to any of the Russian, Mandarin, or Polish languages.

In the comparison of English and Spanish, most people would argue that they differ completely regarding grammar rules and pronunciation. Whether that might be the case, there is still room for the following similarities between English and Spanish.

Similarities and Differences Between English and Spanish (2)

Similarities Between English and Spanish

Are there any similarities between English and Spanish? More than you’d think. I’ve just mentioned that they share the same alphabet, but they also share a common origin: the ancient Indo-European language.

They also share a few words rooted in the old Latin and Greek languages, which greatly simplifies the comprehension of many words from the other language. For example, the words photography and fotografía, or biology and biología.

These words with similar sound and meaning are called “cognates,” and comparative linguistics tells us that there are plenty of them between English and Spanish. Between 30% and 40% of English words have a related word in Spanish.

Another one of the pragmatic similarities between English and Spanish is their basic structure. This means that these languages built their sentences in pretty much the same order. Let’s take a closer look at the grammar similarities and differences between English and Spanish.

Pronunciation and Alphabet in English and Spanish


To begin with the linguistic similarities between English and Spanish, the most evident one is that they both share the same alphabet: the Latin alphabet. This alphabet, also known as the Roman alphabet, was originally an adaptation from the Greek one and is now used to write hundreds of different languages.


The standard Latin alphabet has 26 letters in English, meanwhile, the Spanish alphabet has 27 letters (including ñ).

What’s more, the English language has 44 phonemes, or individual speech sounds, while the Spanish has “only” 25. Surprising, right? There are more speech sounds to learn in English than in Spanish.

In comparison to English, Spanish is a straightforward language when it comes to pronunciation. Each letter has a corresponding sound, and it will (almost) always sound that way. For example, in Spanish, a letter “e” always sounds like “eh,” while in English the same letter can be pronounced as “ee,” “eh,” or “er,” to name just one example.

Similarities and Differences Between English and Spanish (3)

English vs Spanish Grammar

Although there are plenty of similarities between English and Spanish, when it comes to grammar it gets easier to spot the differences.

1. Conjugation

This is an area in which English speakers learning Spanish always find their native language much simpler. The English language adds a “-s” to the third person, an “-ed” to conjugate in past tense, and “íng” for continuous verb forms.

On the other hand, verb conjugation in Spanish is more complex. There can be up to 30 different forms to conjugate a verb in Spanish, however we don’t use them all in everyday life.

Each verb changes depending on the tense, mood, and person. Also, the use of auxiliaries and irregular verbs is quite different from that of English.

2. Subjects

Before returning to the similarities between English and Spanish, let’s mention one of its biggest grammar differences: how each language uses their subjects.

In Spanish, subjects have a gender, which isn’t the case in English. A mesa (table) is feminine, while a carro (car) is masculine.

Also, in Spanish you don’t always need to explicitly state the subject in a sentence, sometimes it’s enough to include a conjugated verb which indicates who the subject is. For example, in Spanish you can simply say dormí, which is a conjugated form of the verb dormir (to sleep)—and even though it doesn’t include a subject, one can understand that the meaning of that word is “I slept,” because the conjugation implies who the subject is within the ending of the word.

3. Adjectives

One of the main grammar differences between these two languages is the placement of adjectives. In English, adjectives usually come before the noun, as in “red house,” while in Spanish the most common sentence structure places adjectives after nouns, as in casa roja.

However, it’s important to mention that in many cases in Spanish it’s accepted to place adjectives before nouns, but you need to consider the context and meaning of the sentence. If you’re not an advanced learner, it’s probably better to always place your adjectives after the nouns for now, to avoid any mistakes.

4. Sentence Order

This is one of the main similarities between English and Spanish. In both languages, the structure of sentences usually is: subject + verb + object.

For example:

El perro come carne.
The dog eats meat.

Subject: el perro, dog

Verb: come, eats

Object: carne, meat

Again, this is the most common structure, but that doesn’t mean that sentences are always structured in the same way. You shouldn’t be surprised if you find Spanish sentences where the subject comes after the verb sometimes.

Similarities and Differences Between English and Spanish (4)

5. Capitalization and Punctuation

You can label this section as you prefer, since it can be a difference or one more of the similarities between English and Spanish. For instance, both languages use question marks.

However, English only requires one question mark, whereas Spanish requires you to use an additional one at the beginning of the interrogative sentence.

The same happens with capitalization. In both languages you start sentences and proper names with a capital letter, which is a similarity. However, when it comes to the names of the days of the week, months, headings, and titles of books and films for example, capitalization rules are different.

Learn more:

  • Punctuation Marks, Special Characters, and Other Symbols in Spanish
  • How to Write Dialogues in Spanish for Maximum Clarity

My Personal Experience as an English and Spanish Speaker

From my experience as a bilingual person, I can tell you that English is quite similar to Spanish, but it doesn’t come naturally to a non-native.

Let me explain by discussing my experience with learning languages.

My wife is from Poland and we live in Portugal. So, I’m exposed to Polish and Portuguese. I’ve been studying Polish for years and haven’t made much progress, because it’s a language that’s much more different to Spanish than English.

On the other hand, I’ve been studying Portuguese for only a few months, and I already speak it fairly well. Portuguese, as a romance language, is much more similar to Spanish than English.

Learn Spanish, It’s Not That Different!

The multiple and varied similarities between English and Spanish will prove useful in your learning process. However, it is still essential to put in a constant effort and combine it with tailored strategies to become proficient.

Among the countless benefits of speaking Spanish is it allows you to talk to more people. According to CNN, in the United States there are around 53 million people who speak Spanish, making the US the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.

You can start to perfect your Spanish fluency today by joining our one-on-one classes with certified Spanish teachers from Guatemala. Sign up today at HSA for a free trial class and benefit from our flexible schedules and personalized lessons and packages. You can trust us as we have been providing reliable, professional services to Spanish learners for over 10 years.

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Luis F. Domínguez is a freelance writer and independent journalist interested in travel, languages, art, books, history, philosophy, politics and sports. He has written for Fodor’s, Yahoo!, Sports Illustrated, Telemundo, and Villa Experience, among other brands of print and digital media in Europe and North America.

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Similarities and Differences Between English and Spanish (2024)


Similarities and Differences Between English and Spanish? ›

The English language's typical Latin alphabet contains 26 letters, but the Spanish alphabet (includes ) has 27. In addition, the English language has 44 phonemes, or distinct spoken sounds, compared to “only” 25 in Spanish. What a surprise, huh? English has more speech sounds to learn than Spanish does.

What are the similarities between English and Spanish? ›

Fortunately for Spanish-speaking English language learners (ELLs), there are many similarities between English and Spanish. First of all, both languages use the Roman alphabet. That knowledge helps build a phonemic and phonological foundation. Secondly, 30% to 40% of all words in English have a related word in Spanish.

What are the differences between Spanish and English? ›

Still, there have some differences between Spanish and English in terms of letters, vowels, consonants, and sounds. There are 30 letters in the Spanish alphabet; on the other hand, there are 26 letters in the English alphabet. Both languages have 5 vowels on their alphabet.

Why are there similarities between English and Spanish? ›

How and Why Are They So Similar? While Spanish is a Romance language and English is Germanic, a portion of the English language was influenced by Romance sources and vice-versa. Many centuries ago, as these languages were still fairly new, they began to merge as the Germanic and Roman people increased communication.

What is the difference between English and Spanish articles? ›

In English, there are only two types of articles. The definite article is “the.” The indefinite articles are “a” and “an.” In Spanish, articles vary to match gender and number of nouns. The indefinite articles are un, una, unos, and unas, and the definite articles are: _el/los, la/las _and lo.

What is the difference between Spanish and English sentences? ›

In English, sentences usually follow a “noun-verb” word order, like “I sleep.” In Spanish, you can usually skip the subject entirely because it's implied in the verb: “I sleep” can simply be “sleep.” This is because Spanish has a lot of verb conjugations that make it clear who is doing the action.

What are differences and similarities? ›

In reasoning, similarities are the things that are alike in some way. Differences are the things that are unlike in some way. Differences can be small or large and differences may be very obvious or much more subtle. The key to spotting differences is to look for the main features of what is different.

What is more common English or Spanish? ›

The most spoken languages worldwide in 2023 (by speakers in millions)
CharacteristicSpeakers in millions
Chinese (Mandarin)1,138
6 more rows
Jun 16, 2023

What language is most similar to English? ›

Except for Frisian, Dutch is linguistically the closest language to English, with both languages being part of the West Germanic linguistic family. This means many Dutch words are cognates with English (meaning they share the same linguistic roots), giving them similar spelling and pronunciation.

What is the mix between Spanish and English? ›

Spanglish (a portmanteau of the words "Spanish" and "English") is any language variety (such as a contact dialect, hybrid language, pidgin, or creole language) that results from conversationally combining Spanish and English.

What is the only difference between the English and Spanish alphabet? ›

How many letters are there in the Spanish alphabet? The only difference between the English and Spanish written alphabets is that Spanish has 27 letters, while English has only 26.

What else is different from English about Spanish adjectives besides position? ›

The main difference that you'll notice is that Spanish adjectives must agree in gender and number with nouns. Moreover, they usually come after nouns in a sentence.

Does Spanish have the same grammar structure as English? ›

Spanish sentences are different from English ones. In Spanish, the word order is not as important. Instead, they have a system using suffixes and particles that help to denote the subject and the object. This can be liberating, but this part of Spanish grammar can be confusing for those who just start learning.

What are 5 words in Spanish that are similar to English? ›

Words in Spanish that are like English (perfect cognates)
  • Actor.
  • Crisis.
  • Director.
  • Fundamental.
  • Invisible.
  • Metal.
  • Miserable.
  • Natural.
Nov 1, 2022

What are the similarities between Spanish and English exploration? ›

Spanish and English Exploration Essay

8, 2010 Spanish and English had similar motivations for exploration of the New World, such as gaining land, goods from the natives, and gold. However, their motivations also differ greatly.

What is the percentage of similarity between Spanish and English? ›

Between thirty and forty percent of all English terms have a Spanish cognate. These cognates, which have similar sounds, appearance, and meaning, aid pupils in transferring their word knowledge into their second language.

What language has the most similarities to English? ›

Except for Frisian, Dutch is linguistically the closest language to English, with both languages being part of the West Germanic linguistic family. This means many Dutch words are cognates with English (meaning they share the same linguistic roots), giving them similar spelling and pronunciation.

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