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Is Spanish Hard to Learn? An Honest Analysis

Many great works were created in Spanish. From the classic tales of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes to songs like Despacito by Luis Fonsi or Shakira’s early work. If you ever wanted to understand these, you probably wondered, “Is Spanish hard to learn?”

You may want to understand the lyrics of your favorite bachata or read some Isabel Allende in its original version. So, what’s holding you back? Are you afraid you won’t be able to roll your Rs or feel daunted by all the Spanish tenses? If you are committed and enthusiastic about it, we promise you’ll be able to master the language.

In this article, we’ll answer the question, “Is Spanish hard to learn?” and give you some tips on learning the language. So, let’s get to it!

Is Spanish hard to learn? The truth about learning Spanish

Any language has its challenges, and Spanish is no exception. For some people, it’s the pronunciation; for others, it’s the verb tenses. Others might struggle with regional vocabulary. However, there are plenty of things that make Spanish a very accessible language to learn.

If you speak a Romance language (those that evolved from Latin), such as French, Romanian or Portuguese, you’ll have an even easier time. These languages often share syntax and grammar, and have very similar vocabulary.

Is Spanish hard to learn for English speakers?

Believe it or not, Spanish ranks third among the easiest languages for English speakers to learn. Many words are similar in both languages and Spanish pronunciation is easier than it might seem. Moreover, though they belong to different language families, Spanish and English have common roots and some overlap.

In the following two sections, we’ll take a look at what makes Spanish an easy language to learn and what makes it a challenging one.

What makes Spanish easy to learn

We’ll start our overview of the Spanish language with a more encouraging outlook so you can decide if Spanish is hard to learn.

English and Spanish are both Indo-European

We mentioned that Spanish is a Romance Language. English is a Germanic one, and even though these are two different language families, they actually both come from the Indo-European family and have a lot of Latin and French influence. English and Spanish also share the same Latin alphabet.

This means there are quite a few similarities between the languages, as we’ll see below.

There are a lot of cognates

Spanish and English share many similar or identical words called cognates. That means you pretty much already know quite a few Spanish words and don’t even realize it.

Here are some examples:


If you want to learn more, you can see this comprehensive list of English-Spanish cognates.

Spanish has a simple sentence structure

Sentences in Spanish have the structure subject + verb + object, just like in English. That is to say, the thing or person doing the action (subject) followed by the action being done (verb) and the recipient of the action (object).

For example:

  • María va a la escuela. (María goes to school.)
  • Juan sube las escaleras. (Juan goes up the stairs.)
  • Ana y Rodrigo comen fruta. (Ana and Rodrigo eat fruit.)

As you can see, it’ll be easy for you to put Spanish sentences together.

Conditionals are very similar

The conditional forms can be a nightmare to learn. However, Spanish conditionals are very similar to those in English.

Let’s look at an example:

  • Si tuviese un millón de dólares, renunciaría a mi trabajo. (If I had a million dollars, I’d quit my job.)

Isn’t it great? That’s a hurdle you won’t have to overcome!

There are countless resources

Whether you wish to learn Spanish in a regular classroom, online or by yourself, there are tons of resources to help you. Moreover, with almost 500 million Spanish native speakers, you’ll have plenty of people to practice the language with!

If you are after some help, you can find it in this article on resources to learn Spanish.

What makes Spanish hard to learn

These are some of the things that make language learners believe Spanish is hard to learn.

So many false friends!

Although there are a lot of similar words, there are also some false friends or cognates. That means some Spanish words might be similar to English, but their meaning is actually quite different.

Here are some examples:

EnglishSpanish false friendActual Spanish translation
ActualActual (current)Real
LectureLectura (reading)Conferencia
LibraryLibrería (bookshop)Biblioteca
EmbarrassedEmbarazada (pregnant)Avergonzado/a
ConstipatedConstipado (to have a cold)Estreñido
SensibleSensible (sensitive)Sensato

Don’t be deterred, though; you’re bound to get used to these.

If you are still curious, check out this article on Spanish-English false friends.

And all those verb conjugations!

It’s true, Spanish verbs can be tricky. There are three moods (indicative, subjunctive and imperative) and 20 tenses in Spanish. Not to mention, there are plenty of irregular verbs.

Moreover, there are three types of verbs in Spanish depending on their endings: -AR, -ER and -IR. And verb endings change for each subject in each conjugation.

However, Spanish has very clear verb conjugation rules. It’ll take some time to learn, but it’s all very logical.

Let’s look at an example with the present tense of a verb with each ending

(to speak/talk)
(to eat)
(to open)
Yo (I)hablocomoabro
Tu (You)Vos (Latin America)hablashabláscomescomésabresabrís
Usted (You, formal)El/Ella (He/She/It)hablacomeabre
Nosotros (We)hablamoscomemosabrimos
Vosotros (You, plural)Ustedes (Latin America)habláishablancoméiscomenabrísabren
Ellos (Them)hablancomenabren

Here is an article on all the Spanish tenses if you want to learn more.

I’ll never be able to roll my Rs…

Pronunciation in Spanish can be tricky. But have you given English pronunciation any thought? As a non-native speaker, I can assure you English is no walk in the park!

The most challenging part of Spanish pronunciation is rolling your Rs or making the double L or Ñ sound. And there is the added difficulty of the various regional accents. But with enough practice, you’ll be able to understand every one of us. Make sure to do a lot of listening and don’t get shy about your speaking practice.

There are a lot of videos on YouTube to help you with pronunciation, including this one on how to roll your Rs.

What is this I hear about gender agreement?

While animals and inanimate objects in English have no gender, everything has a gender in Spanish. Moreover, the articles and adjectives that accompany any given noun (the word that represents a person, place, or thing) must match the gender of that noun.

Let’s look at an example to give you an idea of what this looks like:

  • El edificio es azul. (The building is blue.)

In this case, “El” (The) is the singular masculine article that corresponds to “edificio” (building, a singular masculine noun), followed by “es” (a singular form of the verb to be in Spanish) and “azul” (blue, a singular adjective).

We know that sounds a bit confusing, but once you understand the logic, it gets easier.

Nouns in Spanish can be feminine or masculine, singular or plural. We’ll look at one example of each below with their corresponding article and adjective to give you a clearer idea. You’ll also see how the Spanish plural is similar to the English one!

ElbarcoamarilloThe yellow boat
LosbarcosamarillosThe yellow boats
LafloramarillaThe yellow flower
LasfloresamarillasThe yellow flowers

This article on adjectives and gender agreement can come in handy if you want to learn more.

What is the best way to learn Spanish?

Now that you have an idea of whether Spanish is hard to learn or not, we’ll give you some tips on how to learn the language.

1. Make use of the resources at hand

There are many online apps and courses available to help you learn Spanish. Not to mention countless websites with all the information you might need.

Given the number of native speakers, Spanish literary and entertainment productions are vast. It’ll be easy to find books of all genres, movies, and TV shows in Spanish to get you immersed in the language and culture. You can also find music in Spanish to listen to and sing along to.

2. Have a schedule

Learning a language is all about regular practice. Set goals and time aside to work on your language skills.

Do you want to learn Spanish on your own to travel? For business? Just because you enjoy languages? Depending on your answer, the resources and time dedication you’ll need will vary. Do keep in mind that your goals should be realistic so you don’t lose motivation.

When it comes to time, one hour each day would be excellent to learn Spanish. Ideally, you should also set aside some extra time to practice your oral skills once or twice a week.

3. Incorporate Spanish into your daily life

To solidify what you have learned and keep adding to it, it is best to find ways to incorporate the language into your daily life. From watching films and listening to podcasts in Spanish to joining a conversation group or switching your phone to Spanish.

This article has tips for every level and every language skill you might want to master.

Final thoughts: Is Spanish hard to learn?

So, what’s our conclusion? Is Spanish hard to learn? We know the language has its challenges, but that is half the fun! And as you have seen in this article, there are plenty of commonalities with English that’ll make the journey that much easier.

If you want to learn more about how Spanish can get tricky, watch this video with a song explaining why speaking Spanish is hard. Don’t worry, it has English subtitles, so you’ll be able to understand every word!

And here are more tips on how to learn Spanish on your own. We hope you have loads of fun learning!

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