Whether you’re learning, teaching or researching a language, such as Spanish, people want to know some critical facts as well as what are the most important things to learn and if it’s worth putting the time and effort into studying this language.
For these reasons, we’ve prepared a list of Spanish statistics that will help answer some of the questions you have regarding the Spanish language. In order to gather this information, we’ve pruned over a number of studies, research papers and resources.
What Are the Most Popular Languages in the World?
- According to Ethnologue, these are the top 10 most spoken languages. Notice: in this study, a person could represent more than one speaker.
Based on this data, we found that:
- As seen on the chart, Spanish is in the top 5 spoken languages, ranked #4 with 580 million speakers.
- For 1 Spanish speaker, there are 2.36 English speakers. As a result, there are 136.13% more English speakers than Spanish speakers.
- With 1,120 billion speakers, Mandarin Chinese is the second most spoken language which means that this language has 108.57% more speakers than Spanish.
- Hindi has 19% more speakers than Spanish
- As the fourth most spoken language, Spanish has 91.79% more speakers than French and 95.99% more than Arabic speakers.
This data shows that English and Mandarin Chinese are the two most spoken languages in the world. However, when it comes to native speakers, the numbers are quite different. In order to show this, we took into account the 4 biggest languages.
|Language||Total Number of Speakers||Native Speakers|
After analyzing this data, we realized that:
- Out of 580 million Spanish speakers in the world, 83.28% are native Spanish speakers.
- So based on the number of native speakers, Spanish is the second biggest language.
- So out of the total 580 million Spanish speakers, 16.72% is formed by people who are learning Spanish or where Spanish is their second language (second, third, etc.).
- Based on these 4 main languages, English has the biggest percentage of second language speakers: 70.11%.
- But with almost 30% native English speakers, English is smaller than Spanish and Mandarin Chinese based on the number of native speakers.
- This means that there are 3.19 times more people with English as a second language (or learning it) than Spanish.
Where is Spanish Spoken?
Countries Where Spanish is The Official Language
- Out of the 35 countries in the Americas 21 of them have Spanish as their official language.
- This means that 57.14% of countries in America speak Spanish.
- Based on this data, 27.16% of Spanish speakers in Latin American are from Mexico.
- Mexico has close to 170% more Spanish speakers than Spain, 180% more than Argentina, and 152% more than Colombia, the second-largest Spanish speaking country.
Source: El Instituto Cervantes
Where is Spanish a Second Language?
Even though most of the Spanish speaking population is concentrated in Latin America, there are other countries that have Spanish speakers.
According to this Wiki data, here are some interesting facts about Spanish across the world:
- 40.30% of countries in the world have an observable population of Spanish speakers.
- This means that out of 194 countries in the world, 84 have Spanish speakers.
- Mexico represents 22.88% of the Spanish speakers in the world.
- Even though it’s not their official language, with 10.33% the United States is ranked #2 in terms of total Spanish speakers.
- The United States has 22% more Spanish speakers than in Spain and 14% more than Colombia.
- Mexico has 1.22x more Spanish speakers than the United States.
How Many Different Types of Spanish Are?
Determining the specific number of Spanish variations is challenging since each country will present some differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. As a result, each country has its own particular way to use Spanish. However, due to their geographical location and their similarities, we could classify them in:
|Andean Spanish||Peru Ecuador|
South of Colombia
|Caribbean Spanish||Cuba |
What’s the Hardest Part of Spanish
We gathered the answers of over 500 people that participated in online community polls related to the challenges that they face when learning Spanish. In order to make these stats clearer, we classified their responses in:
- Grammar topics
- General challenges or problems when learning Spanish
Take Note: In these surveys, a respondent may have provided more than 1 answer.
So when it comes to Spanish grammar topics, we found the following trends.
- Respondents said that the most difficult Spanish topics are:
- Ser vs Estar
- Past Tenses
- Por vs Para
- Indirect Pronouns
- Masculine vs Feminine
- Pronoun Se
- 27.2 % of people said that subjunctive is by far the most difficult topic for Spanish learners.
- With 15.7% the second most difficult topic for Spanish learners is using Spanish Pronouns (Se, Direct & Indirect Pronouns).
- Even though ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ is widely known for being a complicated topic, 3.76x Spanish learners considered subjunctive to be more complicated.
Biggest Challenges When Learning in Spanish
- 25.67% of people said that listening and understanding what native speakers say is the most difficult thing in Spanish. According to this study, Spanish speakers are in second place for producing more syllables per second. So perhaps this is why people learning Spanish struggle when listening to native speakers.
- 21.64% of Spanish learners said that dealing with verb conjugation is the hardest aspect of learning Spanish.
- Speaking and pronouncing correctly was very difficult for over 13% of the respondents.
- When it comes to grammar, only 11.04 % of Spanish students considered it a big challenge.
- Building sentences and following a correct phrase structure was a problem for 10% of Spanish students.
- Only 8.66% of respondents said that vocabulary (not knowing a word and their multiple meanings) was difficult for them.
What’s the Most Difficult Accent in Spanish
In the previous table, Spanish learners mentioned that the different Spanish accents present a significant challenge for them. So we asked ourselves which of the different accents is considered the most difficult. We gathered responses from over 200 Spanish learners and native speakers and this what we found out:
- 30.42% of people said that the Chilean Spanish accent is the most difficult accent to understand.
- For 12.50 of respondents, Andalusian and Castilian Spanish are very difficult.
- 12.92% of people found that the Dominican Republic accent is the second most difficult accent to understand.
How Many Words Are There in the Spanish Language?
One of the most difficult aspects to tackle when learning Spanish is vocabulary: Spanish learners struggle because each Spanish speaking country has its own vocabulary. Here are some stats and data points about Spanish words:
- The Diccionario de Americanismos gathered 70,000 words that are common in Latin American countries, but not in Spain.
- El diccionario de la lengua española created by the Royal Spanish Academy has 93,111 individual terms. These words belong to standard Spanish.
- On average 1 standard Spanish word has 2.1 meanings while each informal term in Latin America has 1.71 definitions.
- Despite the difference in informal vocabulary, according to the newspaper El país, Spanish speakers share 90% of the same vocabulary which we know as standard Spanish. Standard Spanish consists of removing dialectal and informal expressions from the speech. As a result, Spanish speakers from different countries are able to understand each other.
Take Note: 1) El Diccionario de la Lengua Española contains standard Spanish words as well as some informal words (dialects) that have been accepted. Since they try to protect the language not all words are accepted. 2) Diccionario de Americanismos contains words used in Latin American countries. These words are not regulated by the Royal Spanish Academy, but they are accepted as part of informal speech in Latin American countries.
What Are The Most Common Verbs in Spanish?
- Level 1: Verbs used by all speakers. It’s the most basic Spanish vocabulary.
- Level 1.5: Intermediate verbs that are between the thresholds of Levels 1 and 2.
- Level 2: Verbs used by people with average educational levels. They are still common, but not as common as Level 1 and 1.5.
Based on this data, we found that:
- 523 verbs are part of the group classified as Level 1 and Level 1.5 which, according to the Instituto de Verbología, are the most basic and common verbs among Spanish speakers
- 29.45% of these verbs are pronominal or reflexive verbs which means they need to work with a reflexive pronoun. In some instances, the presence of the reflexive will affect the meaning of this verb.
- From these 2,252 verbs, 82.95% are verbs with –AR ending. 8.79% have -ER ending and the last 8.26% was -IR ending.
What Are the Most Common Words in Spanish?
Based on 68 millions of samples (books, magazines, newspapers, and transcriptions based on radio and tv shows), the Royal Spanish Academy created a corpus with the 10,000 most common words in Spanish.
After reviewing the data, we discovered some interesting findings of the usage of these words:
- The top 2,000 (20%) of the 10,000 most common words have a usage frequency of just over 83.4%, meaning the other 8,000 words were used less than 16.6% of the time.
- The top 5,000 (50%) of the 10,000 most common words have a usage frequency of just over 93.3%, meaning the bottom 5,000 words were used less than 6.7% of the time.
- In the top 2,000, we found that 52.95% of the words were nouns. In other words, out of those 2,000 words, 1,059 corresponds to nouns.
- Based on the same data, adjectives were used 12.65% of the time and adverbs only 4.40%.
- Out of the 10,000 most common Spanish words, 2,621 were verbs, and when measured in terms of frequency of use, it was found that they represent 19.70% of the frequency of usage.
- Based on the corpus the following are the top 10 verbs most frequently used:
- Funnily enough, these top 10 verbs are also part of the verbs of Level 1 (the most basic Spanish verbs) from El Instituto de Verbología which supports the findings that they are the most frequently used verbs.
Conjugating verbs was one of the most challenging topics for Spanish students. As a result, we wanted to know which tenses and moods were more frequently used in this corpus. The trends show that:
- With 59.1% of frequency, indicative is the most common Spanish mood.
- When it comes to tenses and verbal forms, infinitive verbs represented 22.2% of the verbs collected by the Royal Spanish Academy.
- The corpus registered that 5.2% of the most common verbs were used in subjunctive form.
What are the most common pronouns used in Spanish?
- In the 10,000 most common words collected by the Royal Spanish Academy, we found 95 pronouns.
- The top 10 pronouns were used 63% of the time.
- According to the data compiled in this corpus, with 26.28% of frequency, se is the most common pronoun in Spanish.
- Unlike English, in Spanish, we don’t need to use personal pronouns all the time. To prove it, we found that yo and él (both personal pronouns) have a use with a frequency of 2.22% and 1.84% respectively.
Learning Spanish Online
Spanish speakers, teachers and learners alike may find it interesting to know which verb conjugations are most commonly searched for online. We collected data that showed the most searched queries and phrases following the format of “[verb] conjugation” for both searches occurring on a monthly basis in the U.S. as well as worldwide.
Data collected from Ahrefs.com as of July 2020.
- The highest search of this type was “ser conjugation” with an estimated 60,000 monthly searches globally and 52,000 in the U.S.
- The 10th most popular was “saber conjugation” with 18,000 and 17,000 monthly searches globally and in the U.S., respectively.
- The combined, estimated monthly search volume for these top 10 was 329,000 and 284,000 globally and in the U.S. respectively.
- Interestingly, all 10 of these verbs that are most commonly searched for are not only among the most popular and frequently used, but also irregular.
We collected data that showed the most searched search phrases for “____ in spanish” for searches performed on a monthly basis in the U.S.
Data collected from Ahrefs.com as of July 2020.
- The most widely searched query was “happy birthday in spanish” with approximately 52,000 monthly searches
- “good morning in spanish” ranked #2 with 41,000 monthly searches
- #10 with 24,000 monthly searches was “how are you in spanish“
- These top 10 combined make up over an estimated 350,000 monthly searches and 4.2 million searches annually
- Fun fact, only 1 curse word made it into the top 15
On top of giving you a break from grammar and vocabulary, the purpose of this statistics was to show the Spanish language in numbers; whether you’re a student, native speaker or researching the language. Additionally, this information will help you identify what are the topics and the elements Spanish learners and students need to pay more attention to. As you may have noticed, if you’re struggling with something in Spanish, you’re not alone 🙂