Learning any foreign language is a challenge. If it wasn’t, everyone would speak all languages easily. As for learning to speak Italian, Spanish speakers do have an advantage. The similarities, and even the differences, of Italian vs. Spanish in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation will give you a boost towards mastering Italian.
Round 1: Italian vs. Spanish – Both Are Romance Languages
Both of these languages are considered romance languages (sometimes referred to as Romanic languages, Latin languages or Neo-Latin languages), meaning they have Latin roots and linguistics. When reading the words in both these languages, you could figure out what is being said because the spellings are similar. For example:
My name is (English) = me llamo (Spanish) = mi chiamo (Italian)
The root of the word for ‘name’ is ‘amo’. So, a Spanish speaking person could recognize that ‘mi chiamo’ means the same as ‘me llamo’ when used followed by a name. Many other phrases follow this same concept. That is also why Italian and Spanish, as well as, Portuguese, French, Romanian, and Catalan are all deemed romance languages.
Round 2: Italian vs. Spanish – Grammar is Similar
These two languages have nearly identical grammar rules. The nouns have gender and agreement with adjectives, but determining the word endings in Italian is more complex. Italian verb tenses are a little more complicated than Spanish. It looks like both languages try to avoid using passive voice under similar circumstances. Therefore, Italian may be more difficult to learn than Spanish, but if you know Spanish first, it significantly reduces the learning curve.
Round 3: Italian vs. Spanish – Accented Syllables Differ
Italian speakers usually accent the third to the last syllable of words, while Spanish speakers tend to accent the second to the last syllable. When listening to these two languages, the pronunciation is the biggest difference. That is why someone fluent in Spanish could understand reading Italian, but understanding someone speaking would be more difficult.
Knowing how to speak Spanish will definitely give you an advantage in learning to speak the national language of Italy. Being aware that both are romance languages that have similar grammar, but the pronunciation is slightly different is a good start. The goal of this article was to encourage you to learn Italian, especially if you know some Spanish. My hope is you will give this language a good chance. Adding the Italian culture to your world is well worth it.