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.

However, the confusion may arise when choosing between two languages which are quite similar but with certain subtle differences.Catalan and Spanish are two such languages.

Catalan vs Spanish

The main difference between Catalan and Spanish is that Catalan is not a phonetic (i.e. not relating to sounds) language, while Spanish is a phonetic language with five vowel sounds.

Catalan vs Spanish

However, the above is not the only difference.

A comparison between both the terms on certain parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:


Comparison Table Between Catalan and Spanish (in Tabular Form)

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 as second most commonly spoken first language in the world
Number of speakers worldwide10 million speakers as per certain reports500 million speakers as per certain reports
Is it a phonetic language?NoYes
Which of the two languages is more used in Spain?Catalan is the second most language used in SpainSpanish language is more spoken and written in Spain
Which one of the two languages is easy to learn?Easier, however, may differ from person to person.For someone who knows the Italian language, Catalan may be easy.Difficult 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
Can there be an assumption that a person who knows or speaks Catalan knows Spanish and vice versa?Yes, people who understand Catalan may also know SpanishNo
Which has more vowels?Catalan has more vowelsSpanish has fewer vowels (only 5)
Is the masculine vowel present?NoYes
Are consonant clusters (i.e. group of consonants pronounced in immediate succession) used?YesNo
Does the language have future subjunctive tense?NoYes, but not much
Is there a “z” sound?YesNo
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 which is a region in northeastern Spain.

The Catalan language is widely spoken in the regions of Catalonia, Andorra, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands.

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

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

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

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

Catalan is the official language in Andorra.Though Catalan is the second largest spoken language in Spain, it is quite different from the Spanish language.

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 as a dialect of the Spanish language.


What is Spanish?

Spanish is another Romance language with a large number of speakers worldwide and especially 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 easily gained considerable standing.Some of the common attributes of Spanish language include roman script, five vowel sounds, there is an accent on vowels, 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 as the second most spoken native language in the world after Mandarin.

Spanish can be considered as the most romantic languages in the world because of the passion and beauty which is filled in the Spanish words.


Main Differences Between Catalan and Spanish

  1. Catalan is a non-phonetic language, Spanish is a phonetic language.
  2. The Catalan language usually excludes the vowel “o” such as a cat is called “gat”.Spanish language nouns and adjectives can end in vowels such as o, e, o such as a cat is called “gato”.
  3. Catalan uses consonant clusters.The Spanish language uses vowel sounds between consonant sounds.
  4. The Catalan language uses apostrophe and hyphen 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



Catalan and Spanish have many similar features such as two gender nouns, the structure of grammar, a similar word, neuter gender of pronouns, etc.

As a result, it may be difficult to choose the right language for learning, especially if someone is trying to acquire knowledge of something fresh.

Although Catalan and Spanish may have similarities and subtle differences, the learning of either of this language will depend on multiple factors such as learner’s exposure to foreign language or culture, the level of intelligence, or the interest towards the language.

Pertinent to note is the fact that some people may even speak a mix of Catalan and Spanish so it may be difficult to exactly figure out who is speaking in which language, especially in a large group setting.

In brief, Catalan and Spanish are two great languages from Spain which can be made a part of someone’s additional foreign language learning to get more equipped from a language perspective in this highly competitive era.

Key Differences Between Catalan and Spanish (PDF Format)

Download the key differences in .PDF format, to read or print them later:

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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