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Mexican vs. Spanish: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 26, 2023
Mexican pertains to Mexico or its people, while Spanish relates to Spain or its language and culture.

Key Differences

Mexican, when referenced as a noun, denotes a native or inhabitant of Mexico. It can also function as an adjective, describing anything related to Mexico, its culture, or its people. Spanish, when used as a noun, primarily refers to the language spoken in Spain and many parts of Latin America. As an adjective, Spanish describes anything related to Spain, its culture, or its people.
Culinary distinctions provide a vivid contrast between the two. Mexican cuisine, known for its rich flavors, incorporates ingredients like chilies, corn, and beans. Spanish cuisine, on the other hand, boasts dishes like paella, tapas, and uses ingredients like saffron and olives. Though both cuisines might use similar ingredients, the preparation and final flavors distinctively mark their origin.
From a linguistic perspective, while the primary language of Mexico is Spanish, the term "Mexican Spanish" can be used to describe the variety of Spanish spoken in Mexico, distinct in accent and some vocabulary from the Spanish spoken in Spain. Spanish, in its broader sense, encompasses all dialects of the Spanish language, including European Spanish, Latin American Spanish, and others.
Historically and culturally, Mexico and Spain are distinct entities. Mexico, once under Spanish colonization, has since evolved its unique cultural, social, and political identity. Though there are shared elements due to colonial history, Mexican traditions, festivals, and societal norms have diverged considerably from Spanish ones.
It's essential to approach both terms with respect and nuance. While they might intersect in certain contexts like language, each holds its distinct identity, heritage, and significance. Avoiding generalizations and understanding their differences is key to informed communication.

Comparison Chart


Pertains to Mexico.
Pertains to Spain.

Linguistic Usage

Refers to the Spanish dialect in Mexico.
Refers to the language or Spain's dialect.

Culinary Context

Relates to Mexico's cuisine.
Relates to Spain's cuisine.

Historical Connection

Former colony of Spain.
Colonial power over Mexico.

Cultural Context

Encompasses Mexican traditions and norms.
Encompasses Spanish traditions and norms.

Mexican and Spanish Definitions


Pertaining to the culture of Mexico.
They danced to traditional Mexican music.


Pertaining to the culture of Spain.
They attended a Spanish flamenco show.


Describing the Spanish dialect of Mexico.
His accent was distinctly Mexican.


The Romance language of Spain and much of Central and South America.
She is fluent in Spanish.


Connected to the geographical location of Mexico.
The Mexican coastline is breathtaking.


Relating to Spain or its people.
They vacationed on the Spanish coast.


Relating to Mexico or its people.
The Mexican festival was vibrant and colorful.


Describing the Spanish dialect of Spain.
His accent was clearly European Spanish.


A native or inhabitant of Mexico.


Connected to the geographical location of Spain.
The Spanish mountains are a sight to behold.


A person of Mexican ancestry.


Of or relating to Spain or its people or culture.


Of or relating to the Spanish language.


Can Mexican and Spanish be used interchangeably?

No, they refer to two different countries and cultures: Mexico and Spain.

Is Spanish only spoken in Spain?

No, Spanish is spoken in many parts of the world, including Latin America.

Are all Spanish-speaking people in the Americas Mexican?

No, there are 20 Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas, each with its unique identity.

Was Mexico once a part of Spain?

Yes, Mexico was a colony of Spain until its independence in 1821.

Is the primary language of Mexico Spanish?

Yes, but it's often referred to as Mexican Spanish due to its unique dialect.

Are Mexican and Spanish cuisines similar?

While they share some ingredients, they have distinct dishes and flavors.

Can the term "Spanish" refer to the people of Spain?

Yes, it can denote the people as well as the language and culture.

Are there native languages in Mexico apart from Spanish?

Yes, Mexico is home to numerous indigenous languages.

How have Mexican and Spanish literatures influenced each other?

Spanish literature was influential during colonization, but Mexican literature has since developed its voice, occasionally influencing Spanish works.

What's a key difference between Mexican and Spanish art?

Mexican art often reflects indigenous influences, while Spanish art has European roots.

How do Mexican and Spanish arts differ?

Each reflects its country's history, values, and influences, leading to distinct styles and themes.

How do Spanish and Mexican architectures compare?

While there might be colonial similarities, each has evolved its style reflecting its history and influences.

Is there a difference between Mexican Spanish and European Spanish?

Yes, in terms of accent, some vocabulary, and certain grammatical structures.

How do Mexican festivals differ from Spanish ones?

While there might be some shared elements, each has its unique traditions, dances, and celebrations.

How has Mexican culture evolved from Spanish colonization?

While there are colonial influences, Mexico has developed its distinct cultural, social, and political identity.

Can "Mexican" describe a type of music?

Yes, referring to music styles originating from Mexico.

Is the history of Spain taught in Mexican schools?

Spanish colonial history is covered, but the broader history of Spain might not be as detailed.

Is "Spanish" ever used to describe something from Latin America?

It primarily pertains to Spain, but can sometimes be used more broadly, especially concerning the language.

Can a person be both Spanish and Mexican?

Yes, if they have heritage or citizenship from both Spain and Mexico.

Is the Spanish spoken in Argentina the same as in Spain?

No, each region has its dialect, accent, and sometimes unique vocabulary.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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