4 Main Similarities Between Italian and Spanish to Help You Master Both Languages

4 Main Similarities Between Italian and Spanish to Help You Master Both Languages

If you aren’t sure if you should learn Italian or Spanish, we have some good news.

Italian and Spanish are two very similar languages. No wonder because they come from the same language family, Romance languages, and along with Catalan, French, Portuguese, and Romanian, they all are descendants of Vulgar Latin.

As for Italian and Spanish vocabularies, they are quite similar which can help you learn one of the languages if you already know the other. And that’s only one thing Italian and Spanish have in common.

So, if you want to know what similarities are between Italian and Spanish, and how they can help you learn both languages, keep reading this post.

Main Similarities Between Italian And Spanish 

A Common Ancestor

As we’ve already mentioned, Italian and Spanish come from the same language family, that is, they are developed from one ancient language, Vulgar Latin. Vulgar Latin was spoken in Roman Empire and it was an everyday language. On the opposite, there was Classical Latin, the language spoken only formally and officially.

When the Roman Empire lost its battles and started to fade away, the language in the Empire as well as in nearby places, started to develop to other, independent languages.

This way, over time and slowly, languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, etc. were created. Spanish and Italian particularly have more things in common than with other Romance languages.

Perhaps the explanation lies in the loan words from Arabic. In both Italian and Spanish, Arabic influenced a lot, which resulted in vocabulary in the first place. After all, these two languages share 80% similarities in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

Similar Vocabulary

Italian and Spanish have so many similar words and phrases. This can facilitate building a vocabulary in both languages. Some of them are identical in both languages, while others have a very similar meaning or differ only in one letter or sound.

Here are some of the examples of similar words and expressions.

  • La biblioteca — Both languages

Meaning: The library

  • La casa grande— Both languages

Meaning: The big house

  • Musica — Italian

Música — Spanish

Meaning: Music

  • Telefono — Italian

Teléfono — Spanish

Meaning: Telephone

  • Tempo — Italian

Tiempo — Spanish

Meaning: Time

  • Con permesso — Italian

Con permiso — Spanish

Meaning: Excuse me

  • Grazie — Italian

Gracias — Spanish

Meaning: Thank you

Couldn’t hurt to mention false friends.  Like in any other language, false friends exist in Italian and Spanish.

Those are the words and phrases that look and sound similar, the same even, but have different meanings.

Here are some examples:

  • Officina ( Italian)- workshop

Oficina (Spanish)- office

  • Pronto

Italian: ready

Spanish: soon

  • Tenere (Italian)- to have, to take

Tener (Spanish)- to have

  • Topo- mouse (Italian), mole (Spanish)

Similarities Between Italian And Spanish Grammar

Italian and Spanish share a lot of grammar features, such as the following ones:

  • Sentence order and structure. In both languages, like in English, the subject-verb-object rule is used.
  • Similar usage of direct and indirect pronouns.
  • Genders. Both languages have two grammatical genders. Also, nouns and adjectives have to agree in gender and number.
  • No cases. Unlike Slavic languages, where cases are one of the main features in languages, in Italian and Spanish, you don’t have to suffer to understand the cases because they simply don’t exist.
  • Formal and informal speech. Both languages use formality when talking to older people or people they don’t know and informal speech, when they are among family and friends.

On the other hand, even though both languages have the same tenses, verb conjugations sometimes can be tricky. Spanish, for example, uses preterite for the actions that happened in the past, while Italian uses preterite only in cases when some action took place in the remote past. In Spanish, for example, when you ask someone ‘What happened’ (¿Qué pasó?) and he answers you ‘I fell,’ it is ‘Me caí. In Italian, however, the question would be ‘Cos’è successo?’ and the answer ‘(Io) sono caduto.’

What About Italian And Spanish Pronunciation?

Pronunciation is the field where even so similar languages mainly differ. Luckily, Italian and Spanish are languages that are relatively easy to pronounce because there are no such sounds that people, native speakers from other, distant languages, can’t pronounce.

Most sounds in both languages are pronounced the same.

However, there are some differences in pronunciation any Italian or Spanish learner should pay attention to so as to easily know to make a difference while learning and practicing.

  • In Italian words, you can often find double letters. In pronunciation, you emphasize those letters. The same words in Spanish are spelled and pronounced with one letter. The example, such as apartamento in Spanish and appartamento in Italian perfectly shows the difference. 
  • In Spanish, on the other hand, you can often find the ‘r’ letter emphasized, such as ‘correr’ (to run), while in Italian, in these cases, ‘r’ letter isn’t emphasized.
  • Compared to Italian, Spanish words have more ‘s’ sounds. Here’s an example: 

Nosotros preparamos unos cafés (Spanish)

Noi prepariamo dei caffè (Italian)

Meaning: we prepare some coffees.

  • One of the most known differences in orthography is the famous Spanish ‘ñ’ which is in Italian written as ‘gn.’

Can Spaniards And Italians Speak Their languages And Understand Each Other?

Can native Italian speakers go to Spain or one of the Spanish-speaking countries and talk to the locals in Italian while they speak Spanish? Or perhaps the other way round?

You’ve probably figured out by yourself that the answer is yes.

There are many examples and experiences about native speakers of both languages who have visited the other country and managed to understand each other just fine. They had to speak slowly and clearly, though, but the main point is that the mutual intelligibly, in this case, helps a lot.

Final Thoughts

Even though all Romance languages are similar, and knowing one can surely help you with the other but in the Italian and Spanish case, these two languages have the most similarities.

If you already speak Spanish and you are wondering how long it takes to learn Italian, be sure that you will need half the time you would if you don’t speak it.

After all, who said that you can’t learn two languages at once?

What are the main similarities between Italian and Spanish?

A Common Ancestor, Similar Vocabulary, Italian And Spanish Grammar

What are the main similarities between Italian and Spanish grammar?

Italian and Spanish share a lot of grammar features, such as the following ones: Sentence order and structure. In both languages, like in English, the subject-verb-object rule is used. Similar usage of direct and indirect pronouns. Genders. Both languages have two grammatical genders. Also, nouns and adjectives have to agree in gender and number. No cases. Unlike Slavic languages, where cases are one of the main features in languages, in Italian and Spanish, you don’t have to suffer to understand the cases because they simply don’t exist. Formal and informal speech. Both languages use formality when talking to older people or people they don’t know and informal speech, when they are among family and friends.

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