Is French closer to Spanish or Portuguese

Portuguese vs Spanish

Spanish and Portuguese languages are very similar to each other. Both have been derived from Latin, and both developed in the same Iberian peninsular region spoken by people having similar cultures. This means that there are many similarities in the two languages, and those knowing Spanish learn Portuguese quickly and easily. However, there still remain certain differences, and this article attempts to highlight these differences between Spanish and Portuguese.

Actually, there are not one but several languages spoken in Spain such as Basque, Catalan, Galician, and Castilian. However, it is Castilian that is the dominant language spoken by the political elite of Spain. In this article, we shall deal with differences between Castilian and Portuguese.

There are so many words common to Castilian and Portuguese that it seems they are more similar than different. However, there are phonetic and grammar differences that make it difficult for a person to learn another when he knows either of the two romance languages. When you hear the two languages, it seems that Portuguese is closer to French than Spanish, and the Spanish pronunciation appears to be same as that in Italian language. The differences seem to be more pronounced in written languages than when one hears the two languages. This is because of the differences in spellings. There are also words with identical spellings that may be pronounced differently.


When you hear Spanish, you would find the sound of h in the beginning of the words. This is surprising as the parent language Latin had an initial sound of f and not h. The spellings of the words continued with f for a long time though eventually they too got f replaced with h. This is believed to be the influence of Basque speaking people as Basque does not have an f sound. So Fernando became Hernando; fazer became hazer, and falar became hablar.

Spanish language has soaked in the influence of the ancient Arabic language called Mozarabic, and there are many words with Mozarbic roots present in the Spanish language. Spanish language sounds phonetically close to other European languages though it remained autonomous during its developmental stages.


Portuguese language has many words of African origin which is a reflection of the association of the Portuguese with the African slaves. Arabic influence over Portuguese does not seem to be that pronounced and what ever Mozarabic influence was there, has been replaced with Latin roots. In its developmental stage, Portuguese was influenced more by French language and this influence can be still seen in the form of French words in Portuguese. The pronunciation of Portuguese words seems to be like those of French words.

What is the difference between Portuguese and Spanish?

• The f sound of the ancient Latin roots in Portuguese words still remains while it has been replaced by h sound in Spanish language

• The differences in the two languages pertain to spellings, grammar, and pronunciation

• Spanish has more ancient Arabic language influences that Portuguese which has more French influence

• Many Portuguese words have French pronunciation while many Spanish words have Italian pronunciation

• Many words have similar spellings but different pronunciation while words with different spellings are pronounced the same in the two languages

Filed Under: LanguageTagged With: Portuguese, Spanish