34 Facts About Spanish That’ll Knock Your Socks Off
No matter how familiar you are with the Spanish language, there are plenty of facts about Spanish you haven’t learned yet!
Are you ready to get your socks knocked off as we uncover some intriguing facts about this enchantingly complex language?
If you’re interested in understanding the holistic picture of the Spanish language and the cultures from which it arises, you’ll enjoy exploring why it’s so unique and particular in our curated list of must-know facts about Spanish below.
Spanish is a language full of infinite curiosities, but you’re taking a deep dive into understanding its quirkiness, which will enhance your understanding of Spanish expressions and the cultures to whom it owes its existence.
Get ready to be intrigued and captivated by these 34 facts about Spanish that will shock and surprise you!
1. Spanish is Spoken Worldwide by Approximately 500 Million People
Currently Spanish is spoken by close to 500 million people around the world. According to studies by the Cervantes Institute there’s a growing trend estimating it will be 600 million by the year 2,050.
2. Spanish is the Second Most Studied Language in the World
After English, Spanish is the second language with the most students worldwide. While the majority of Spanish students are from the United States and the United Kingdom, there’s approximately 22 million people learning Spanish in over 110 countries worldwide. The number of worldwide students is projected to keep growing exponentially in the coming years!
3. Spanish is the Official Language in 21 Countries
Not only is Spanish the official language of Spain, it’s also official to: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Perú, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Equatorial Guinea.
4. The Third Most Used Language on the Internet is Spanish
Followed by English and Chinese, Spanish is the third most used language online with 8.1% of internet users using it for communicating. In the year 2,018, 300 million social media users were Spanish-speaking.
5. Mexico is the Country with the Largest Spanish-speaking Population
The population of Mexico is approximately 133 million people, making it the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. It’s estimated that 98% Mexicans communicate in Spanish.
6. In the United States, Almost 41 Million People Speak Spanish
This is one of the facts about Spanish you’ll definitely remember! Even though the majority of the population speaks English, 1 out of 3 Americans speak Spanish, making it the second largest country with Spanish-speaking population. It’s projected that by 2,050 the United States will be the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.
7. Spanish is the Only Official Language Spoken in All 5 Continents
Not only is Spanish the official language in most of the American continent, it’s also widely spoken and understood in at least one country in each continent:
- Europe: While Spanish is the official language of Spain, it’s also spoken and understood in Andorra and Gibraltar.
- Africa: It’s the official language of Equatorial Guinea and is easily understood in Morocco due to its proximity to Spain.
- Asia: Spanish was the official language of the Philippines until the year 1,973, since the country was a Spanish colony from the years 1,565 to 1,898. To this day, many Philipinos still use it along with a Spanish-based creole dialect called Chabacano.
- Oceania: although Easter Island is politically South American territory, it’s geographically located in Polynesia. The official language is known as Rapa Nui but a percentage of the population also communicates in Spanish.
8. One Language with Two Names
Many people who speak Spanish will call it español, meaning that it comes from España (Spain), or they may also call it castellano attributing its origin to the Spanish province of Castilla (Castile).
9. Spanish is One of the Most Fast-spoken Languages in the World
Believe it or not, this is one of the facts about Spanish that has been studied consistently by different academic entities! Studies by the University of Lyon in France show that Spanish is the second fastest spoken language with an average of 7.82 syllables spoken per second (Japanese being the first).
10. Spanish Comes from Latin and is a Romance Language
The Spanish language has gone through a vast journey, originating from a dialect called vulgar Latin, and introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans around 200 B.C. Once other settlers began to establish in the area, disparate languages and dialects began mixing and taking shape as the Castilian dialect of northern Spain, known as castellano.
Its origin from Latin also classifies it as a Romance language, along with Italian, French, Portuguese, Catalan, and Romanian.
Spanish is also considered an incredibly poetic and romantic language due to its long sentences—in fact, many agree that it’s more detailed and expressive than English.
While the English language can sum up something concisely in one word, Spanish uses more words to do so.
11. Spanish is a Phonetic Language
In Spanish there is a direct sound-to-letter correlation, which means consistent spelling rules and letter sounds. Unlike the English language, if you hear a word in Spanish you know how to spell it, and if you look at a written word in Spanish, you know how to pronounce it.
I think this is one of the most incredible facts about Spanish, since it guarantees that it won’t be difficult for you to learn it and there won’t be many surprises!
12. Spanish has Arabic Influences
Even though the roots of Spanish date back to Vulgar Latin, Spain was occupied by Arab forces and the language retained hundreds of Arabic words. If you ever get a chance to travel to Spain, you will encounter many historic site names that come from Arabic in the southern regions. A perfect example of this is la Alhambra in the city of Granada, which is home to architecture and art from this period of occupation.
13. The Spanish Language has an Institute Dedicated Specifically to its Regulation
Yes! You read that right, Spanish is regulated! You might be wondering, how can you regulate a language? Well in the case of Spanish, the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy) is the official custodian of the language.
It was founded in Spain in the 18th century and since then has been publishing dictionaries, recognizing new words, and establishing grammar rules that are officially adopted by Spanish-speaking countries.
The Royal Academy does not however recognize slang and other idioms from many Latin American Spanish-speaking countries. So you won’t find Guatemalan slang like the word chilero in their dictionaries!
14. Some Unique Words in Spanish can’t Be Translated to English
Don’t you hate not knowing the exact word to describe something? Well I’m sorry to give you bad news, but this happens A LOT in Spanish!
There are plenty of words that don’t have an exact translation into English, because its counterpart simply doesn’t exist. A few examples are:
- Empalagar: When you dislike something because the flavor is excessively sweet.
- Sobremesa: Everytime you finish a meal and stay at the table sharing a conversation even though the food is gone.
- Pena Ajena: To feel embarrassed on behalf of someone else.
15. Spanish has Over 100,000 Different Words
The Royal Spanish Academy recognizes approximately 93,000 words in its dictionaries, but there’s close to 70,000 more words that are considered Spanish slang from different countries. As I mentioned before, these words aren’t necessarily recognized by the Academy but they’re a huge part of Spanish-speaking vocabulary.
16. It’s the Only Language that Uses Two Exclamation Signs and Question Marks
Most languages use a simple exclamation or question mark at the end of a question or affirmation. The Spanish language uses inverted exclamation and question marks to highlight the punch on a sentence. For example:
Hola Ana, ¿Cómo estás el día de hoy?
Hello Ana, how are you doing today?
17. The Pronunciation of the Letter Ñ is Not Exclusive to the Spanish Language
The letter Ñ is the only letter in the Spanish alphabet from Spanish origins, unlike the others that derive from Latin.
This letter arose from the ligature of double N, joining two letters for pronunciation and so that texts could be written faster. Spanish scribes in the 12th century created the letter Ñ using a tilde (accent mark) over letters to indicate that it was doubled.
A great example would be the word año (year) which comes from the Latin word annus. The use of the letter Ñ was widely spread in the Iberian Peninsula and now the pronunciation of the letter Ñ can also be heard in Portuguese, French, Italian, and Catalan.
18. The First Spanish Texts were Written More Than 1,000 Years Ago
The first written Spanish records date back to the year 964 B.C, they’re called Las Glosas Emilianenses (Glosses of Saint Emilianus) and they’re a collection of notes both in Basque and Spanish that are part of a religious manuscript in Latin.
19. There are over 40,000 Words in Spanish that Have All the Vowels
These words are called pentavocálicas and their name comes from the words penta (five) and vocálicas (vowels). This doesn’t happen often and most of these are conjugations of verbs in different tenses, there’s also nouns that have this very rare and unique condition such as:
- murciélago (bat)
- abuelito (grandpa)
- ayuntamiento (city hall).
20. Many English Words Have Been Adapted to Spanish
Most Latin American countries have plenty of English language influence and in the 20th century plenty of words in English are part of the daily vocabulary in Spanish. This influence plays a huge part in creating a Spanish-written version of these commonly used words, some examples are:
- overol (overalls)
- suéter (sweater)
- bulevar (boulevard)
- fútbol (football)
21. The First Spanish Grammar Texts were Published When Christopher Columbus came to America
As the New World was being explored, the Spanish language had its own grammar rules developing. In the year 1,492, Elio Antonio de Nebrija became the first person to publish the first grammar rules for the Spanish language. Christopher Columbus arrived on the American continent on October 12th that same year.
22. Spanish Used to be a Diplomatic and Divine Language
Up until the 18th century, Spain had a great empire and many rich colonies around the world. Thanks to the country’s economic and military strength, castellano was used to communicate in many corners of the world and had a strong presence in trade routes and port cities.
During these times, the language was also considered divine as it was used during the colonization of the Americas for conversion purposes. What’s more, it was considered by the conquistadors the only worthy language for communicating with God.
23. Spanish has Plenty of Homophone Words
Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Even though Spanish is phonetic, homophones occur because the pronunciation of some consonants is completely silent.
Another one of the curious facts about Spanish, is that this is one of the biggest obstacles Spanish learners encounter when learning to write. Some popular examples of homophone words are:
- ola (wave) | hola (hello)
- bello (beautiful) | vello (hair)
- Asia (Asia) | hacia (towards)
24. Spanish has Nouns that Are Spelled the Same but Have a Different Meaning According to Genre
Some nouns in Spanish are spelled exactly the same but change their meaning if they’re used with a different grammatical gender. Some examples of this are the words:
- el cura (priest), la cura (the cure)
- el pendiente (the earring), la pendiente (the slope)
25. There’s Two Different Types of the Verb “To Be”
The Spanish language has two different words for expressing the verb “to be” in English. The first verb is estar, which refers to being in a temporary state or location. For example: Yo estoy en tu casa (I’m in your house).
The second verb is ser, which makes reference to being in a permanent state. For example: Yo soy tu hermana (I’m your sister).
26. Two Words in Spanish Can Be Spelled the Same but Have a Different Meaning
Even though it’s confusing, some Spanish words are spelled exactly the same, are pronounced differently, and mean something completely different. This is due to accent marks, which in most cases mark a difference in pronunciation. For example:
- la mamá (the mother), la mama (the breast)
- el terminó (he finished), el término (term)
27. You Can Express your Love in Different Ways
For Spanish-speaking lovebirds, you have two options of expressing your love. Meanwhile there’s a specific way that friends can tell each other they care for one another. Unlike English, Spanish has two phrases that can translate to “I love you”:
- Te quiero: This is a very casual phrase and is used mostly in friendly non-platonic scenarios.
- Te amo: This phrase is said between lovers and close family members.
28. Spanish has Plenty of Words that Are Considered “False Friends”
It might sound shady, but in this case the expression “false friends” defines the words that sound and are similarly-written in Spanish and English (also known as “false cognates”). The perfect example of false friends are the words embarazada (pregnant) and “embarrassed.” See the top 40 false cognates in Spanish here.
29. The Letter X has been replaced by the letter J in many countries
In 1815, the Royal Academy of Spanish officially changed the spelling of some words with the letter X to the letter J. A perfect example is the change of name of the old Spanish novel Don Quixote to Don Quijote. Over time, some of these words reverted back to the X spelling but kept their J pronunciation. Mexico was the only country who refused this change at the time and you can see it in their own current pronunciation in words like:
- México (pronounced Méjico)
- Oaxaca (pronounced Oajaca)
- Texas (pronounced Tejas)
30. The Pronunciation of the Letters Y and Ll Will Vary According to the Country
If you’ve traveled to Uruguay or Argentina, you’ve noticed their pronunciation of the letters Y and LL is slightly different to other South and Central American countries. Spanish-native speakers from these two countries pronounce both letters using a “sh” sound. For example the word pollo (chicken) is pronounced “poh-sho” and the word baya (berry) is pronounced “bah-shah.”
31. The Longest Word in Spanish has 23 Letters
The word electroencefalografista (electroencephalographer) is the most extensive word recognized and approved by the Royal Spanish Academy. Can you think of a word that’s this long in English or any other language?
32. The letters CH and Ll were removed from the Spanish Alphabet
In 1994, the Royal Spanish Academy decided to stop recognizing Ch and Ll as real letters, instead considering them a set of letters that represents a single phoneme. This changed the original Spanish alphabet and since then it’s applied in all literary works as well as Spanish writing.
33. Spanish-language Cinema, Music and Television are Currently Prospering
Can you think of another way to train your ear in Spanish than enjoying the arts? In the past few years, more acceptance of Spanish-spoken arts is surging worldwide. Many Latin American films are now recognized all over the world, some have even scored a few awards, such is the case of Mexican Motion Picture Roma by Alfonso Cuaron, which landed him the Oscar for Best Director. In the past filmgoers were thrown off by subtitles but this is no longer a problem.
Telenovelas in Spanish are also scoring huge ratings in streaming platforms like Netflix, Yo soy Betty la Fea, originally from Colombia has broadcasted in over 100 countries. Music genres in Spanish such as reggaeton, salsa and cumbia are also increasing their demand in music platforms like Spotify.
As the Spanish-speaking population grows worldwide, the on-going request for Hispanic and Latino talent is only gonna get bigger in the coming years.
34. Spanish is Considered the Number One Language for the Future
If the 33 facts about Spanish I just listed haven’t convinced you you’re on the right track, this one definitely will!
Studies by the Cervantes Institute and the Language’s Report by the British Council indicate that Spanish has overtaken the interest in learning German in the United Kingdom and will likely take over French in the coming years.
Most people studying Spanish in the UK have business or academic ties to Spanish-speaking countries and to the United States. Remember I also said Spanish is taking over the United States? Spain will have less Spanish-speaking population than the United States in the future.
Ultimately, what I’m saying is that Spanish is here to stay and as the world population grows, Spanish-speaking countries will continue to expand their economy worldwide creating a bigger need for international communication.
Currently 6% of the population understands Spanish and in a few years it’s projected to be 10%. So if you’re learning Spanish today, in the future, you’ll be able to communicate with way more people than you expect!
Talk About Facts in Spanish
These incredible facts about Spanish show how far the language’s heritage and history have come. I hope this list makes you consider Spanish an even more fascinating language to learn! Sign up for a free class with us at Homeschool Spanish Academy today to start working on your fluency and vocabulary while you discuss these facts in Spanish!
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