Difference Between Catalan and Spanish

Learning a new language is a great hobby and a passion for many people. It can be a great idea to choose and learn any foreign language of one’s choice.


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However, confusion may arise when choosing between two languages that are pretty similar but with specific subtle differences. Catalan and Spanish are two such languages.

Key Takeaways

  1. Catalan is a Romance language spoken primarily in Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands, while Spanish is the official language of Spain and many Latin American countries.
  2. Although both languages share Latin roots, Catalan has distinct vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, influenced by Occitan, French, and Italian.
  3. Catalan and Spanish are official languages in Catalonia, with Catalan used in education, government, and media, while Spanish is spoken more widely across Spain and internationally.

Catalan vs Spanish

Catalan is the official language of Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands in Spain. Spanish is the official language of Spain and is also spoken in Latin America. Catalan has its distinct pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Additionally, Catalan has a rich literary tradition and a long political and cultural identity history. While Spanish is widely understood in Catalonia, Catalan language laws and policies seek to protect and promote the use of Catalan.

Catalan vs Spanish

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonCatalanSpanish
DescriptionA language closely related to a native of Castile, Spain, and widely spoken in Catalonia (a region in Spain)A language is spoken in Spain and many parts of South America and is considered a second most commonly spoken first language in the world
Number of speakers worldwide10 million speakers, as per specific reports500 million speakers, as per specific reports
Is it a phonetic language?NoYes
Which of the two languages is more used in Spain?Catalan is the second most used language in Spain.The Spanish language is more spoken and written in Spain
Learning CurveEasy to learn, however, may differ from person to person. For someone who knows the Italian language, Catalan may be easy.Complicated than Catalan, but again may vary from person to person. For someone who knows the French language, Spanish may be easy.
Where commonly used?Certain parts of Spain, AndorraAll over Spain plus countries in Central and South America
VowelsCatalan has more vowelsSpanish has fewer vowels (only 5)
Is the masculine vowel present?NoYes
Does the language have future subjunctive tense?NoYes, but not much
Is simple past tense used?NoYes
Is the spelling of the language predictable?NoYes
Is a definite article used before names?YesNo
Does the language use voices and unvoiced vowels?YesNo


What is Catalan?

Catalan denotes the language belonging to a native or inhabitant of Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain.

Catalan is widely spoken in Catalonia, Andorra, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands.

Catalan is considered a Romance language meaning a language evolved from vulgar Latin (i.e., a verbal form of non-classical Latin language).

Catalan first came into use in the 10th and later spread through multiple writings in philosophical, literary, and scholarly articles.

Though Latin was a prominent language in those times, the Catalan language still made its mark though some stage of prohibition followed it.

However, in the 19th century, the Catalan language became one of the most preferred languages in the literary spheres in Spain and elsewhere.

Catalan is the official language in Andorra. Catalan is Spain’s second-largest spoken language, but it differs from Spanish.

On the contrary, the language has more similarities with the Italian language. For example, the word “nephew” is stated as “nebot” in Catalan and “nipote” in Italian but is stated as “sobrino” in Spanish.

Although Catalan is a widely spoken language in Spain, it may not be considered a dialect of the Spanish language.


What is Spanish?

Spanish is another Romance language with a large number of speakers worldwide and is one of the commonly preferred foreign languages.

Spanish is the language of a native of Spain. The Spanish language is known as español in Spain.

Spanish first appeared in the 9th century and quickly gained considerable standing. Some of the common attributes of the Spanish language include roman script, five vowel sounds, an accent on vowels, and no use of apostrophes.

Importantly, Spanish is a phonetic language. Spanish is spoken with multiple accents and dialects.

The Spanish language has around 500 million speakers. Many countries in Central and South America have Spanish as their official language.

Also, Spanish is considered the second most spoken native language in the world after Mandarin.

Spanish is the most romantic language in the world because of the passion and beauty in Spanish words.


Main Differences Between Catalan and Spanish

  1. Catalan is a non-phonetic language, and Spanish is a phonetic language.
  2. The Catalan language usually excludes the vowel “o”, such as a cat is called “gat.”Spanish nouns and adjectives can end in vowels such as o, e, and o, such as a cat, which is called “gato”.
  3. Catalan uses consonant clusters. The Spanish language uses vowel sounds between consonant sounds.
  4. The Catalan language uses apostrophes and hyphens in the spelling. This may not be the case in the Spanish language.
  5. Catalan has more vowels than Spanish, which has five vowel sounds.
  6. Catalan shares some similarities with the Portuguese language. Spanish does not share similarities with the Portuguese language.
Difference Between Catalan and Spanish
  1. https://repositori.upf.edu/bitstream/handle/10230/27911/Prieto_ls_aco.pdf?sequence=1
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13670050108667732
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