OK, I know about the differences and I know a little bit about the situation in the Spanish-speaking world.

The thing though is that I'm moving to Spain in a few months (do not know the exact location yet) and I've been studying Spanish (by myself) for the past 2-3 months.

So, which pronunciation should I focus on then? Ceceo, seseo, or "distinción" (that is, distinguishing s from z/c)?

Should I use the th 's' (as this seems to be the most "standard" variation being spoken), or should I learn to speak with s 's'.

It's not a matter of preference. I just need to make sure I learn the most "proper" version of the language (as far as Spain goes) and sound as much as a native as possible, so that I can adjust better. (going to Spain and sounding like an... argentinian, because of a "wrong" decision, it's not something I'd like, by any means...)

So, any suggestions/ideas are more than welcome! :-)

  • Learn to speak with s. It is essential in Spain, specially in Andalusia Jun 29, 2014 at 11:24

2 Answers 2


We can not recommend you which one if you do not know the exact location. Should I learn the northern, southern or central British accent if I go to England? I guess the same can be applied to your country, Peloponnesian, Cretan, Northern ... Depending on the zone you can check out this answer.

But if it were for me I will choose the "standard" Spanish, which is neither ceceo or seseo and should be the school to follow.

According to Diccionario Panhispanico de Dudas, work undertaken by the Royal Spanish Academy.

Es por ello la expresión culta formal la que constituye el español estándar: la lengua que todos empleamos, o aspiramos a emplear, cuando sentimos la necesidad de expresarnos con corrección; la lengua que se enseña en las escuelas; la que, con mayor o menor acierto, utilizamos al hablar en público o emplean los medios de comunicación; la lengua de los ensayos y de los libros científicos y técnicos. Es, en definitiva, la que configura la norma, el código compartido que hace posible que hispanohablantes de muy distintas procedencias se entiendan sin dificultad y se reconozcan miembros de una misma comunidad lingüística.

With this standard there are phonetic distinctions that are not considered in ceceo and seseo. because they ignore them.

  • Well, first of all, thanks for the response. Next, and judging by your username... suffix, I guess you are from the place that ranks at the top of my selection list. lol. (My only problem would be that I'd have to learn yet another language as well, to be 100% "at home". Or isn't that true?) As for your approach, that's what I was thinking. And yep, Greek has its dialects and regional variations too, but BY NO MEANS would I suggest to someone going e.g. to Northern Greece, to learn that idiom. It's an idiom. The "standard" greek, perfectly understandable and acceptable by anyone, is one thing. Jun 29, 2014 at 13:57
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    I thought I could put an equal example with your country but no :P. Consider ceceo an seseo as accepted exceptions, but I will go for the standard Spanish th as z,ce,ci, represented with a Greek theta /θ/ and s as s and k(english k as in the word breaks) as c. About Barcelona, it's a kind of up and down yes. 96% can speak Spanish here but 47% tends to use Catalan as first language. So yes to be 100% home you may learn Catalan, but with Spanish you can live 100%.
    – AlexBcn
    Jun 29, 2014 at 19:25
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    Good answer. Don't fret much about ceceo or seseo, this is unimportant. By the way, in my experience, Greek people tend to get the Spanish accent very easily, since it is not so different from yours. It may well happen to you that people speak too fast in front of you because they will think your Spanish is better than it actually is; this has happened to a few Greeks I know.
    – Gorpik
    Jun 30, 2014 at 7:28
  • @AlexBcn Well, I know what you mean: every time I've been in (wonderful) Barcelona, everybody did understand my spanish without issues. And I felt like 100% at home (THAT was awesomely weird!). However, Catalan was like... everywhere and lots of times I heard locals speaking it. So, that could be an issue. It's not like it looks that difficult (I also speak Italian and French, so you get my point), but suddenly adding 2 new languages is quite a challenge. And, at the other hand, condemned to remain a "foreigner" (you know what I mean) because of the language is something I wouldn't like. Jun 30, 2014 at 7:35
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    @Gorpik Btw (and I have made a few experiments on that), Greeks - even if they don't know a single spanish word - if they hear spanish, they'll most likely be able to "reproduce" exactly what has been said. Which is obviously not the norm (with any other language). Rather interesting I'd say... Jun 30, 2014 at 13:12

My recommendation is to go ahead and practice speaking con distinción (that is, distinguishing s from z/c).

It's not going to be as important to others understanding you. There are only a handful of real possibilities for confusion when you speak with seseo (I would not recommend to anyone learning with ceceo), and it's not like Spaniards don't ever talk to people from seseo regions (which constitute the vast majority of the modern Spanish-speaking world). Most of the examples that people use are pretty rebuscados, and are as common as confusions with ll and y (again, rare).

The reason it will be important, or better said useful, is it will help you understand the distinction better without having to think twice. A lot of Americans do get confused initially going over to Spain because s sounds like our sh, the z sounds like our th and the j sounds like a Scotsman's ch (that is [χ]). If you're mentally already thinking about those sounds, you'll have no problem at all.

  • Thank god, those "th" sounds, the soft "g" sound the ... scotsman's "ch" and all this you mention, have an exact equivalent in greek. I mean for a greek... mouth is something more than natural to pronounce each and every spanish phoneme. So, it's not a matter of how "easy" it is. It is. I just want to make sure I do it the proper way and not become stuck with a - let's say - latin america variant, while I'm actually not ever planning to go there. Thanks a lot for your input! :-) Jun 30, 2014 at 7:30

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