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5 Reasons Spanish is Easy to Learn (And 10 Obstacles to Becoming Fluent)

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on May 22, 2024

If you’re wondering how hard it is to learn Spanish, there are different factors you need to consider. In this guide, I’ll tell you 10 reasons why Spanish is hard to learn and 5 reasons why learning Spanish is easy. You’ll also see some super helpful tips to make studying Spanish much easier. After reading this article, you’ll know everything you need to start your Spanish studies!

How Hard is It to Learn Spanish?

It might come as a surprise, but Spanish is actually one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn. Some people think that because Spanish is a Romance language and English isn’t, Spanish is completely different from English. But this isn’t true! Both languages have a lot in common. Some words are the same, and the grammar is even similar to a certain extent. 

According to the Foreign Service Institute, it takes around 600 – 750 class hours for English speakers to become fluent in Spanish. This is a lot less than other languages, like German (900 hours), Vietnamese (1,100 hours), and Arabic (2,220 hours). While there are some difficult aspects of Spanish (like the subjunctive verb tense), it’s not really a difficult language to learn overall.

Let’s take a look at why it’s actually easy to learn Spanish.

5 Reasons Why Learning Spanish is Easy

Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers for several reasons. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to pick up the language! Here’s why:

English and Spanish Both Use the Same Alphabet

One of the most intimidating parts of learning a new language is dealing with a different alphabet. If you’ve ever tried your hand at Hebrew or Thai, for example, you know what I’m talking about. Memorizing a new alphabet can be hard, frustrating, and time-consuming. 

With Spanish, you don’t have to worry about this. Just like English, Spanish uses the Latin alphabet and only has one additional letter. The only letter in the Spanish alphabet that you’ll need to learn is “ñ”!

Spanish Pronunciation is Logical

What’s cool about Spanish pronunciation is that you don’t have to constantly guess if you’re saying words right or wrong. In English, certain letter combinations can change the sounds of certain vowels. A classic example is “pony” and “bologna” (why do they rhyme!?). 

In Spanish, the letters always make the same sounds no matter what crazy combinations you create. This makes the process of learning Spanish pronunciation much easier and you won’t have to second-guess yourself every time you want to talk with a native speaker.

Shared Vocabulary

Believe it or not, Spanish and English share a lot of their vocabulary. Both languages belong to the family of Indo-European languages and share a lot of history. For example, Spanish has borrowed and adapted many words from English (like “email” and “surfing”). At the same time, English also uses Spanish loanwords like “taco”, “tornado,” and “patio.” This means you won’t need to spend too long studying Spanish to master a lot of words. 

Take a look at this table of 10 popular Spanish cognates (words that look similar and mean the same thing in both languages):

Spanish CognateEnglish Equivalent

Similar Sentence Structure

What’s cool about Spanish is that not only does it share a lot of words with English, but it also shares a similar sentence structure. That might sound crazy at first. Sharing words is one thing, but sentence structure? Yes! Both English and Spanish use the same subject + verb + object structure to communicate basic and straightforward ideas. 

Here are some examples of Spanish word order in sentences:

This picture shows you that the Spanish sentence "la niña come una manzana" has the same subject + verb + article order as the English sentence "The girl eats an apple."

You can even turn simple structures like this one into questions simply by adding the “¿” and “?” question marks.

In this example, you can see how adding "¿" before and "?" after the sentences "Tú juegas fútbol" and "La niña come una manzana" turns them into questions.

That’s much easier than English! Spanish is quite flexible when it comes to structure, so even if you mess up at first, there’s a big chance you’ll be able to get your message across anyway. 

It’s Easy to Find Resources to Learn Spanish

Thanks to the Internet, social media, and globalization, learning Spanish is now easier than ever. Even if you don’t live in a Spanish-speaking country, there are thousands of language-learning resources you can use to study Spanish from home.

Some popular options are Spanish books for self-study students and interactive apps to learn the language. And, if you can’t afford to pay for an online course, you can find helpful Spanish articles online to learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and more. There’s something available for all types of learners, so I recommend you choose what works best for you and what you like the most.

The 10 Biggest Challenges to Learning Spanish

Now that you know what makes Spanish easy to learn, there are some difficult aspects that you also need to know about. From pesky verb conjugations to its rolling “r” sounds, these are some things that can add some extra obstacles on your way to fluency in Spanish. 

But these aren’t obstacles you can’t overcome! Everyone has gone through this (yes, even us native speakers!). Here are 10 aspects of Spanish that can be difficult for English speakers:

1. Verb Conjugations

If you’re just starting to learn Spanish, verb conjugation can feel like a rollercoaster ride. You’ll have to learn how to conjugate verbs in Spanish for different subjects and in different tenses, some of which don’t even exist in English. On top of that, there are regular and irregular verbs, a few exceptions, and more Spanish grammar rules that can leave you on the brink of fainting. Just staring at a chart with different verb forms for “hacer” can be overwhelming.  

But verb conjugation doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems at first glance. Would you believe me if I told you that there’s a way to master verb conjugation? You can start by looking at their patterns and breaking them into groups to make things easier. Here’s a table that shows how to conjugate a couple regular “-ar” verbs in the present tense:

PronounVerb EndingHablar (to speak)Escuchar (to listen)Pagar (to pay)

2. Gendered Nouns

Gendered nouns in Spanish are one of the most confusing parts of the language for many learners. In English, you use the neutral article “the” with all nouns. In Spanish, you need to know the gender of the noun because it affects the article (“el” or “la) and adjective endings.

Here’s a table with some common examples of how to apply gendered nouns, articles, and adjectives:

Spanish WordEnglish Translation
El gato negroThe black cat
La casa amarillaThe yellow house
Los zapatos viejosThe old shoes
Las llaves perdidasThe lost keys

This can sound like complete madness, but it isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. Instead of memorizing each noun form, there are some simple gender rules you can follow to quickly figure out if a noun is masculine or feminine. In most cases, all you need to do is look at a noun’s ending. It’s really that easy (most of the time)!

3. Accent Marks

Spanish accent marks hold a lot of power. Adding an accent on the right (or wrong) vowel can change the tense, meaning, and pronunciation of a word. And just learning to place them correctly can be a whole feat. Here are some examples of how accent marks can change the meaning of words in Spanish:

Word with Accent Mark (and Translation)Word without Accent Mark (and Translation)
Él (Him)El (The)
Casó (He/She married)Caso (Case)
Sí (Yes)Si (If)
Té (Tea)Te (You or yourself)
Tú (You)Tu (Your)

If you’ve struggled to understand Spanish accent marks, don’t worry. Just like many other complicated Spanish topics, accent marks follow rules so you know where to place them.

4. Ser and Estar

If you’ve ever tried to translate “ser” and “estar” you know how hard it can be to decipher these verbs. They both translate to “to be,” but you don’t use them the same way. This can be very confusing if you’ve just started your Spanish journey. 

Why do they even have the same translation if they can’t be used in the same contexts? How can you tell which one is for describing what something is and which is for describing where something is? 

These two verbs often leave Spanish learners scratching their heads. However, understanding “ser” and “estar” isn’t that complicated once you focus on their main differences! With some practice, you’ll be able to use these verbs naturally in no time.

5. Subjunctive Tense

In Spanish, the subjunctive tense helps us talk about hypothetical ideas or things that haven’t happened yet. Now, there’s nothing bad about translating Spanish sentences to help you figure out their exact purpose and meaning. I need to warn you though: trying this with the subjunctive tense won’t work. This is because the subjunctive tense doesn’t exist in English (crazy, I know). You’ll get the same translations you get for sentences in the indicative tense and end up more confused. 

Here’s a table that shows you the different conjugations of the verb “tener” (to have) in the indicative present vs. the present subjunctive tense:

PronounIndicative PresentPresent Subjunctive

Here are some common expressions that use the subjunctive tense:

  • Puede que tengas razón. / Maybe you are right.
  • No creo que la tenga. / I don’t think I have it.
  • Espero que él tenga paciencia. / I hope he is patient. 

Unfortunately, studying isn’t always the fastest route to understanding the subjunctive tense. It’s just one of those things that you pick up naturally over time by interacting with native speakers. All more reason to start immersing in Spanish as soon as possible!

6. Different Varieties and Dialects

There are many different dialects of Spanish. Each Spanish-speaking country (there are 21 of them) has its own set of idiomatic phrases, exceptions, and informalities that can make understanding the language more complicated. Just take a look below to see all the different words that can be used for a fiesta!

different words for fiesta (party) infographic

That doesn’t mean the Spanish you learned in Mexico won’t work in Spain, Colombia, or Costa Rica. You’ll just need to become familiar with the local slang and pronunciation, which is also part of immersing in the language. Then, you’ll be able to understand Spanish speakers without a problem. Here are some examples of Spanish from different countries:

7. Different Pronunciation from English

Some of the sounds in Spanish are different from the ones in English, and it can take some time and practice to get used to them. For example, most English speakers struggle to roll the “rr” that’s necessary to pronounce words like “perro” (dog) or “terremoto” (earthquake). The sound of the letters “c” and “g” are softer, and understanding the difference between pronouncing “b” and “v” can also pose a challenge. 

Mastering Spanish pronunciation can take some practice, but it’s not impossible. Remember, there are a lot of language-learning resources that can help you learn Spanish pronunciation, like podcasts or even YouTube videos. You can even find Spanish learning apps with lessons that will teach you how to pronounce each individual sound!

8. False Friends

Because English and Spanish share a lot of vocabulary, it’s easy to assume that similar-sounding words have the same meaning, right? False friends or false cognates are one of the most common traps beginners fall victim to. These are Spanish words that sound or look similar to English but have completely different meanings. For example, “fábrica” (factory) and “fabric” or “choque” (crash) and “to choke.” Each of these words has a different meaning!

9. Prepositions

Prepositions are intimidating if you’re new to Spanish because there are just so many. Spanish has a total of 23 prepositions that are used in common sentence structures, so you might feel pressured to memorize them all at once. 

Don’t do it. Trust me, this is a sure way to get confused and frustrated with the whole ordeal. Some don’t even have a direct translation and can change their meaning depending on the context, like “en” (in, on, or at) or “de” (of, from, or about).

The truth is that yes, there are a lot of prepositions and all of them are necessary if you want to learn to express yourself naturally. But just like the rest of Spanish vocabulary, you don’t need to learn all 23 at the same time. Instead, it’s better to learn them in pairs or small groups. This will also help you understand the differences between prepositions like por vs para and save you a lot of time in the long run.

10. Idiomatic Expressions

Just like in English, there are some Spanish expressions that make sense to native speakers but can be hard to understand if you’re trying to learn the language. And these expressions are often different even between Spanish dialects. Sometimes the wording just seems wrong or the phrase itself seems to have no purpose (like, “Anda ve viendo” which translates to, “Go see seeing”). But don’t stress too much. Most of the time this is just playful language, and any Spanish speaker will be happy to explain it to you if you ask.

5 Ways To Make Learning Spanish Easier

Even though you may have some hiccups along the way, learning Spanish doesn’t have to be a long and excruciating process. You don’t have to spend hours and hours reading long explanations or memorizing conjugation charts. Instead, you can try using different study methods until you find one that fits your needs and learning style. Here are 5 ways you can make your Spanish journey much easier:

1. Create a Study Routine

To become fluent in Spanish over time (how long article), you’ll need to develop all the skills. Your study routine needs to include different resources you can use to practice vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, reading, and writing. You can divide your time and adapt your routine to your schedule. What’s important is that you spend enough time practicing each skill to be able to see progress. Consistency is the best way to learn Spanish, and creating a study routine can help you get the study time you need to reach your goals.

2. Immerse Yourself in the Language

Surrounding yourself with Spanish can give your skills a boost without having to try too hard. Even if you’re not paying close attention or can’t understand everything that’s being said, immersing yourself in the language can force your ears to become familiar with sounds and words. You don’t even have to live in a Spanish-speaking country to immerse yourself. You can listen to Spanish podcasts or watch YouTube videos to learn the language in context. This is actually how little kids acquire their native language too!

3. Start Speaking As Soon As Possible

There’s no better way to progress in Spanish than by putting all your knowledge into practice. Once you start learning Spanish vocabulary, try putting basic sentences together and saying them out loud, even if you’re just talking to yourself. Doing this can improve your Spanish pronunciation but it’ll also help you remember the meaning of words. And, it will increase your confidence when you speak with native speakers. After all, this is the reason why you’re learning Spanish, right?

4. Try Non-Traditional Study Methods

Books and apps are proven ways to learn Spanish, but there are also non-traditional resources that are just as helpful. For example, listening to Spanish music can train your ear and teach you new idiomatic expressions. You can watch your favorite TV series in Spanish or give Spanish movies and telenovelas a try to listen to authentic spoken language. If you want to practice speaking, many AI robots like ChatGPT can help you simulate a conversation with a Spanish native speaker. These study methods might sound crazy, but trust me, they are easy ways to develop your Spanish skills while you stay entertained.

5. Use Social Media 

Believe it or not, social media can be extremely helpful when you’re learning Spanish. With social media, you can easily connect with Spanish speakers from all around the world. There are thousands of Spanish creators on platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram with hours and hours of content. You can check their accounts to get tips to master Spanish grammar and pronunciation, or you can watch their videos to practice listening to Spanish. Take a look at the listening activity below from Why Not Spanish? to test how much you understand.

How Hard is Learning Spanish for Speakers of Other Languages?

Up until now, you’ve seen how hard it is for English speakers to learn Spanish. What about learning Spanish from other languages though? Depending on which language you speak, it might be easier or harder for you to learn Spanish. Here’s how your native language can determine if Spanish is difficult to learn or not:

How Hard is Spanish for French Speakers?

Thanks to their similar origin, Spanish is easy for French speakers to learn. While both come from the Indo-European family of languages, some of the differences in Spanish grammar and pronunciation can be challenging for French speakers. However, there are also enough similarities between Spanish and French to make learning Spanish completely possible. For example, these are some French-Spanish cognates:

SpanishFrenchEnglish Meaning

How Hard is Spanish for Arabic Speakers?

Spanish can be a hard language to learn for Arabic speakers because there are significant differences between both languages. Spanish uses the Roman alphabet, while Arabic has its own writing system. But, the Arabic language has greatly influenced Spanish in the past, so you’re likely to find some similar-sounding words. Here are some examples:

SpanishArabicEnglish Meaning
Azúcarسكر (Al-sukkar)Sugar
Limónليمون (Limun)Lemon
Bellotaبلوط (Belluta)Acorn
Alcancíaمصرف خنزيري (Al-kanz)Piggy bank
Guitarraغيتار (Gitara)Guitar

How Hard is Spanish for Filipino Speakers?

Spanish can be hard to learn for Filipino speakers due to the differences in pronunciation and grammar rules between both languages. However, Tagalog uses the same Latin script as Spanish, so you won’t have to learn a new writing system. The Philippines was also a Spanish colony from 1565 to 1898 and, as a result, both languages share some words. Here are some common cognates:

SpanishFilipinoEnglish Meaning

How Hard is Spanish for Portuguese Speakers?

Spain is right next to Portugal and they share many similarities in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Spanish and Portuguese are both Romance languages. They have both adopted many words from one another, which makes Spanish an easy language to learn for Portuguese speakers. These are some common cognates in Spanish:

SpanishPortugueseEnglish Meaning

Make Learning Spanish Easier with Langoly

In this guide, we have gone over the ups and downs of learning Spanish and learned how you can make studying the language easier. More pain is not always more gain, so make sure to use resources you enjoy. In fact, set yourself up for success by taking a look at Langoly’s Spanish hub. By taking a look at our resources, you’ll feel motivated to keep learning and it’ll be easy to find solutions to the rocks you find along the way. Keep practicing and you’ll reach your goals before you know it!

How Hard is It to Learn Spanish: FAQ

What is the hardest part of learning Spanish?

The hardest part of learning Spanish for native English speakers is the grammar. To be able to communicate effectively, you’ll need to learn the different tenses and their purposes. This means that you’ll also need to become familiar with verb conjugations, which can be time-consuming. But this doesn’t mean that mastering Spanish is impossible. You’ll learn Spanish quickly if you use the right grammar resources and stick to a study routine.

Which is harder, French, or Spanish?

Learning French isn’t harder than learning Spanish for English speakers. Both Spanish and French are two of the most spoken languages in the world. What’s great about them is that they both belong to the Romance family of languages, so it might be easier to learn one of them if you already know the other.

What type of Spanish is easiest to learn?

Latin American Spanish might be the easiest to learn if you’ve never studied Spanish. While there are many different accents, Latin American Spanish is usually taught with a neutral accent that allows you to easily understand the language. European Spanish is often spoken faster, which can make developing your listening comprehension harder.

Is it worth learning Spanish?

Learning Spanish is worth it regardless of the reason why you decide to study it. Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world, and the official language of over 20 countries. Speaking Spanish will allow you to communicate with millions of speakers worldwide. It’s a great skill to have if you’re looking for work in a Spanish-speaking country, but it can also come in handy for travel reasons.

Maria Claudia Alvarado

Maria Alvarado is a content writer and translator from Lima, Peru. She graduated from the Savannah College of Arts and Design in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Writing. She is fluent in Spanish and English, has intermediate knowledge of French and German, and is learning Japanese. She hopes to bring consciousness about the importance of language learning through her articles and aspires to learn as many languages as possible.

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