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What Language Is Most Similar To Spanish?
By Debbie Lopez Updated on April 29, 2024
Thomas Mühlbacher Thomas Mühlbacher

What Language Is Most Similar To Spanish?

Everything you need to know about languages that are similar to Spanish, including which one is the closest

If you already know how to speak Spanish and are considering learning another language, you may be wondering which ones are the most similar (and thus will be the easiest to learn). This makes sense—learning a language close to Spanish will make your life a whole lot easier as compared to learning a totally different language (like Mandarin or Japanese, for example). In this guide, we look at several languages to see how they compare to Spanish.

Is Portuguese Similar To Spanish

Is Portuguese Similar To Spanish?

There are some notable similarities between Portuguese and Spanish. Statistically, there is a 90% lexical similarity between the two, meaning they share a lot of the same words.

This doesn’t mean that someone who speaks Spanish would automatically be fluent in Portuguese, though.

Portuguese Similar To Spanish

Although there is a lot of crossover in vocabulary, the pronunciation of the words tends to be quite a bit different. Generally, Portuguese speakers have an easier time understanding a Spanish speaker.

Is Italian Similar To Spanish?

The lexical similarity between Italian and Spanish is over 80%, which is almost as high as Portuguese. There are a lot of crossover words, and it is generally easy for someone who speaks one of the languages to learn the other.

Again, though, there are pronunciation differences, as well as some words that have entirely different meanings. Speakers can generally understand one another, but tone and inflection play a major role in comprehension between the two languages.

I have heard it said that Italian is basically Spanish, but bouncier. Though obviously a joke, there is a little truth in it. 😄

Is French Similar To Spanish?

From the start, there is a major difference between Spanish and French. Spanish is a phonetic language, and French is not. Nonetheless, the lexical similarity between these languages is around 75%, so a lot of the words are similar (being based in Latin).

Is French Similar To Spanish

There are enough words that are different, though, that it can get confusing for speakers to understand one another. More than confusing actually.

Additionally, pronunciation is very, very different, so that is something to keep in mind if you want to learn French.

Is Catalan Similar To Spanish?

These two languages have a deep connection, and as the others mentioned above, they are Romance languages. Catalan is the second-most spoken language in Spain, and most people who speak Catalan can speak fluent Spanish, but not vice versa.

Spelling and grammar are the same, and most words in Catalan will be familiar to Spanish speakers. The lexical similarity between the languages is around 90%, similar to Portuguese. Thus, there is heavy overlap here, but pronunciation and dialect are dramatically different.

Is Romanian Similar To Spanish?

Often a surprise to people, Romanian is a Romance language, so it shares some similarities with Spanish. It only shares a 70% lexical similarity, though, so quite a few of the words are different between the languages.

Additionally, in Spanish, there are only masculine and feminine genders, whereas Romanian also has neutral gender terms. That is a major difference.

Romanian also has more irregular verbs when compared to Spanish. So although Spanish and Romanian trace back to common roots, they are not that similar. 

Verdict: Which Language Is Closest To Spanish?

Based on lexical similarity, you will find that Portuguese is the closest language to Spanish. These two languages share tons of similarites.

That being said, you will need to rethink the way words are pronounced. You will also want to know which words are different between the languages.

Following Portuguese is Italian as the second closest language to Spanish. Italian and Spanish speakers can sometimes understand each other to an extent when conversing about basic things.

If you want to learn Italian or Portuguese, it is recommended you use a language program or app to help you do so. For example, our team rates Pimsleur and Babbel very highly, as both provide practice drills that stretch across reading, writing, speaking, and listening.


What languages are close to Spanish?

Portuguese and Italian are the closest languages to Spanish, as these languages share over 80% lexical similarity. There is tons of crossover between these three languages. Portuguese is especially close to Spanish though, with a lexical similarity of 90%+.

Why is Italian and Spanish so similar?

Italian and Spanish are similar because both languages are rooted in Latin and emerged following the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Why is Portuguese similar to Spanish?

Portuguese and Spanish are both romance languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin.