Spanish and Italian Similarities

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Spanish and Italian Similarities

Diving into the world of Spanish and Italian similarities?

You’ll find that Spain and Italy may have certain cultural differences, but they still share plenty of similarities in things like food, traditions, and language.

With only one country separating them by land, Spain and Italy also share a geographical proximity!

These countries have close historical ties and are some of the most visited countries worldwide.

However, it’s the language ties between the two countries that make them something like cousins.

Spanish and Italian Similarities

You’ll generally be able to use your current Spanish language skills to learn Italian and vice versa.

But how exactly is this possible?

Romance Languages

The Spanish Italian similarities begin with the languages themselves: each language is considered a Romance language.

Many Romance languages have a common ancestor: Latin.

These languages continue to be some of the most influential languages across the Western world. Spanish and Italian included.

While there are 44 different Romance languages, Spanish and Italian are some of the most widely spoken.

In linguistics terms, they each have a high lexical similarity, which means that the vocabularies between the two languages overlap much of the time.

This means that the similarity between the two languages is quite high. Thus, it is much easier for speakers of each language to understand the other.


For example, basic vocabulary words in Spanish and Italian are similar (with some small discrepancies!)

Take the Spanish word for “to live”, which is vivir. In Italian, “to live” is vivere!

Similarly, the Spanish word sentir, and the Italian word sentire both mean “to feel”.

‘Hand’ would be “mano” in Spanish and Italian.

The word ‘when’ would be “cuando” in Spanish and “quando” in Italian.

Party is “fiesta” in Spanish and “festa” in Italian.

The list goes on!


Apart from comparable vocabulary, Spanish and Italian also share similar sentence structures.

In terms of linguistics, Romance languages generally share a similar sentence-structure format.

This means that both Spanish and Italian follow a “subject-verb-object” construction.

However, there are always exceptions to this rule.

An additional similarity is that each language assigns gender to nouns.

This means that each noun in a sentence will be either masculine or feminine.

An example of this would be “il libro” (Italian) and “el libro” (Spanish): both masculine forms that describe a book.

This helps language learners to pay attention to how nouns are classified within the language.

Spanish and Italian Similarities

Pronunciation and Phonetics

The two languages also share some similar pronunciation rules.

Meaning, certain vowels and consonants are pronounced the same in Spanish and Italian.

Take the “cuando” and “quando” example from above.

These two words not only mean the same thing, they are also pronounced in a similar way.

However, while there are similar pronunciations, many vowel sounds do differ, and some words in Spanish will have a more straightforward pronunciation.

A phonetic similarity between the two are the rolled or trilled “R” sounds.

While the actual rules vary between when each language employs this, both languages do use these sounds.

A Spanish example of when to use a rolled “R” would be “perro” or “dog”.

An Italian example of when to use a trilled “R” would be “carro” or “cart”.

Wrap Up

As a quick summary, the key Spanish and Italian similarities between these two languages include:

  • Origin (Latin)
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Pronunciation rules
  • Phonetic similarities

While there are always exceptions to the above, overall, each language is similar enough that speakers of one language should be able to understand basics in the other.

¡Hasta Pronto!

When deciding whether you want to study Spanish or Italian (or both!), understanding the Spanish and Italian similarities between the two will be helpful for your language learning journey.

Having language skills in one will be helpful in gaining language skills for the other.

Curious to know more about either language?

We’d love to help get you started on the right path toward your language learning goals!

We’ve got a whole host of resources from Italian language schools to Spanish prep schools.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘hola’ or ‘ciao’ – we’ve got a dedicated team on hand to answer any questions you might have!

How are Italian and Spanish so similar?

Both languages derive from Latin, meaning they are both Romance languages. Romance languages tend to share similarities like sentence structure, phonetics, grammar, and more.

Will I be able to understand Italian if I already speak Spanish?

To some degree, yes! Both languages share a high percentage of vocabulary words, which means speakers of either language should be able to understand similar words and phrases.

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