Over the years I’ve heard many opinions on how difficult learning Spanish is. The answer is normally subjective, since it depends on several factors including the learner’s mother tongue, motivation and experience.
Still, I decided to share some of what I consider the easy (and not so easy) points of the Spanish language so that you can decide for yourself.
- You say what you read: The relationship between spelling and pronunciation in Spanish is quite straightforward. With no diphthongs, changing vowel sounds or silent letters (except the letter h), Spanish learners don’t have much to worry about in this regard. Moreover, predictable accentuation rules help identify stressed syllables, making it easier to reproduce the melody of the language.
- Simple negative forms: Not only does Spanish have a simple negative form (adding the word “no” will usually suffice), but it also allows double negatives, which are used to add emphasis.
- Compound tenses made easy: Having only one auxiliary verb makes conjugating in progressive and perfect tenses much easier than in other languages.
Here come the tricky parts!
- Pronunciation: Depending on your native language, Spanish pronunciation can be more or less difficult. However, learning how to roll the “r” is a common problem.
- Dialects: Spanish is spoken as a first language in roughly 20 countries and has several dialects with equal status. Characteristics such as pronominal voseo, the use of “vos” instead of “tú”, and verbal voseo, a change in conjugation, may make speaking about the second person feel a bit less compelling. Furthermore, pronunciation traits such as seseo and yeísmo can be confusing.
- Conjugation: Beyond the dialectal challenges, Spanish conjugation is more complex than many other languages. With 16 complete verb paradigms, Spanish has more tenses than, for example, French. In addition, each grammatical person has a unique conjugation and pronouns are often left out. The correct use of subjunctive is considered to be the most confusing topic.
- To be: Spanish, as well as Italian and Portuguese, has two verbs for “to be”. Understanding the nuances of “ser” and “estar” can become troublesome; especially if your native language has no translation for these verbs. You can read more about this topic here: “The Verb to be in Different Languages”
- Gender: Did you know that only ¼ of the world’s languages use grammatical gender? Naturally, Spanish is among this group.
- Standard linguistic challenges: Every avid language learner knows that some things just don’t seem to have a clear explanation. Use of prepositions, false cognates, and word order are commonly listed among these things.
Like Spanish, each language has its share of peculiarities and learning them requires patience and dedication. All in all, Spanish is a beautiful language that is just waiting for you to discover how over 400 million people conceive the world around them J
If you liked this article, have a look at this other one: Top 5 Hardest Languages to Learn.