We seem to be going South American

I have noticed that Duo is steering us towards South American Spanish as opposed to Castilian Spanish eg carro instead of coche, boleto instead of billete. If an answer is given in Castilian then it should be accepted. I appreciate that Duo is created in America and maybe the audience is largely American so I can understand why the emphasis is on South American Spanish, but please allow Castilian answers to be accepted for those who want to learn European Spanish.

June 14, 2018


Duolingo does teach South American Spanish. If you submit an error report saying a Castilian answer should be accepted, the course creators will eventually incorporate your suggestion into the database of accepted answers.

June 14, 2018

Thank you for your reply. I have been studying with Duo for almost 4 years, during that time Castilian answers were accepted but now they are rejected . This is very disappointing as I liked the Duo setup. I will now have to find an alternative . Thank you for the last 4 years.

This might be because there is new content recently. The only thing to do is to report it as have been suggested. With the new skills, I nearly always have at least a few variations that I believe should be accepted.

This is exactly what is going on. The team built out the various accepted answers over time based on reporting. I was one of the alpha testers, so I sent in a lot of alternative answers. Almost all of them were accepted.

North American :)

As a side note, Duolingo teaches Mexican Spanish. Mexico is in North America.

I wish they included a few sentences like

México está en América del Norte.


Centroamérica es un parte del América del Norte.

It would help keep things clear ;)

I don't know as I've seen coger come up frequently in the new lessons. It's common in Spain but my understanding is that it means something.... different in Mexico and should be avoided there.

Not only in Mexico, in most countries it means something... different. The exceptions that I know are Spain, Equatorial Guinea, Colombia and maybe Ecuador.

Coger occurs in the new lessons, and I've complained about it. The new lessons are much less consistent.

Yes apologies for my geographical ignorance

I love how Europeans think that all of the Spanish spoken in the Western Hemisphere is the same. There is as much difference in the Spanish spoke in, say Mexico and Cuba as there is in the difference between Mexico and Spain. What duo teaches is a sort of 'television Spanish' that would be understood in any Spanish speaking country. It is probably closest to Mexican, but doesn't really have a lot of what I consider to be Mexicanisms or any Mexican slang. That said, the team accepts answers using various regional vocabulary. If you enter a word that would be accepted en Castellano and it says you are wrong, report it. It will generally be accepted.

I call it decaffeinated Mexican Spanish :) It is Mexican in most features, except it has no weak vowels and it replaces some typical Mexican words like alberca or chamarra by more widespread words.

haha I like that, but it thinks, for example, that 'tomate' means 'tomato'. In mexico, it is 'jitomate'. Un tomate is what we call a tomatillo here in the states. Or 'limón' is 'lemon' to duo not 'lime'.

Haha this gets more and more confusing.

What is the Mexican name for lemons? "Limones amarillos"?

There are a LOT of different types of citrus, and most of them start their life green and end up yellow or yellow-ish. In the US, most supermarkets stock a hybrid of Lisbon type citrus called Bearss that is ripe and yellow. We typically call it a lemon. They also stock a variety of Tahitian citrus that is not ripe, and we call it a lime. In Mexico, it is the latter that is most common. In most places, you never see yellow citrus (or so I am told, my Mexican travels are nowhere near as widespread at I would like). Where they do exist, they are generally called 'limas'.

No. Duolingo teaches mostly the most spoken North American Spanish variety, Mexican Spanish, that it is also the most spoken variety of whole Spanish. However, answers form South American and European dialects are also accepted. If they don't report it.

Just another reason to supplement your language study with other materials, especially for a language as geographically dynamic as Spanish.

DuoLingo from the beginning has taught Mexican Spanish, however it usually accepts Castilian variants. It was updated recently and this might be why it's not accepting those answers again. When it doesn't accept an answer you can hit "Report an Issue" and check off "My answer should be accepted."

Agree, with one addition. You need to make sure that the word in question is the only difference from the suggested answer. I know I sometimes make an error that I just don't see until I double check because I'm focused on the vocabulary issue.

Klgregonis. I agree. I do the same thing. I make stupid mistakes that I can’t find and then finally I see it. It says translate this sentence from spanish to english. My answer. The man es interesting. I see all my words are correct and spelt right and then I notice I have once again used 2 different languages in 1 sentence. I start writing in 1 language and end in the

Yes, I agree with this. Usually I'm careful about this, but there was one day, after studying French, I was absolutely sure my answer should also be accepted and sent it in... Whoops. But that won't get past the admins. But one should still try to be absolutely sure so as not to flood them with unacceptable translations.

The only thing i wonder is that if you are learning from Duo then shouldn’t Duo’s answers be the answers that are correct? As opposed to everyone bringing in their own language and adding to it? I learned Spain Spanish when I was in school decaded ago and remember a lot of it. But when I’m doing Duo then I answer it Duo way. You can always use the knowledge you learned somewhere else with you in your head. Why does it have to be added to Duo? That’s not the word they are teaching. They aren’t taking the word from you. You can still use it when you are in Spain but why does it have to be included as an answer when it won’t be taught in Duo. I am not trying to sound mean if it sounds that way. Just fill in the word Duo taught you and when you are out using the language use your own spanish word. Also it should be pointed out that there is a huge difference in number of countries and people with type of Spanish language compared to the couple or very few countries and their smaller populations in the Spain type language. Personally I don’t think people should just add their own words. I think things that should be reported are words that Duo taught you that aren’t excepted. But that’s just my opinion. It doesn’t matter that much to me either way. It’s just kind of typical.

Duo had to go with one variety of Spanish, and stick with that. As long as we are being thaught Mexican Spanish, I think it would be a bit confusing and unproductive if Castilian variants were accepted as well. Would be easier for learners to mix them up.

If you enter 'coche', is it because this is the only word for 'car' you know in Spanish? If so, it's just right that you should learn 'carro' as well. If you know both, why don't you just enter the one you know is used in Mexican Spanish, since that's what's being thaught here?

Duolingo actually generally does accept alternatives from major regional variants of a language. When it fails to, the best thing to do, as many others have noted, is to report the problem.

Well, to be fair, while Castilian is the progenitor of all spoken Spanish, Castilian is the minority while "Mexican" Spanish is the predominate variety of Spanish spoken.

Not exactly. The progenitor is Old Spanish and the progenitor to all varieties in the Americas is kind of Middle Andalusian influenced at different extent by Middle Castillian. Compare Caribbean Spanish and Mexican Spanish.

There's also a lot more American English speakers than British English. But I suspect they'd be pretty upset to be told that their words weren't accepted in a language course on English.

Indeed, I think that makes sense for how they should handle the Spanish issue. Don't teach it to us, but accept it if given. The default on Duo for English is American - for instance in the sports section, they use the word soccer. I tested it out, and if you translate the sport as football, they accept it too. But it won't confuse anyone because it never shows up as a suggested answer, or in the English "translate into the other language" part.

I don’t understand why a person wouldn’t know the spanish word carro if you are studying and taking lesson from Duo. Duo teaches the word carro before it is asked for. So if you are taking this course why wouldn’t the person know the word they are looking for??? It makes no sense. You would never go up to your teacher after she gave you 10 words to study and tell her that you have your own acceptable answer because you learned it from another teacher. You know what would be expected from you because she gave you the list of words to start with. If you want spain spanish then use Rosette Stone because they offer both Spain-Spanish and Latino-Spanish. I’m just saying this in general who complain about their learned-from-somewhere-else words. I don’t mean this specifically at GeoffSims. This message is just a message about the issue not about GeoffSims and the other people that commented. It does make sense to add words to learn and then put those words as acceptable. But until the word is on the learned list then it shouldn’t be accepted. I know this message makes me sound like I very passionate about this but I’m really not. This is just my opinion. It won’t bother me if it goes a different way. So please nobody take offense please.

Two things: Spanish speakers use this course as a reverse tree. If they're from Spain, they'll want their Spanish accepted. They'll want to concentrate on learning English, not on remembering to use LA Spanish. Then, some people who use this course may have some prior knowledge of Spanish. If they're European, that prior knowledge will be European Spanish and again, they will want to not have to re-learn simple words. To use your analogy, it's more akin to changing schools, finding that your new Spanish class is behind the old one and then telling the new teacher that your old teacher taught you a different word.

Both English and Spanish are EXCEPTIONALLY regional languages. Even within the United States, there are regional differences in words in English. Heck, the people in Wales claim to be speaking English. Damn if I can make out a word of it, and I am a native speaker. At some point, the makers of these courses need to decide on the preferred translation and the acceptable alternates. I think they do a pretty good job of maintaining a balance, and most of the Castellano I am familiar with is represented. But if a word is used is every country but Spain, I would prefer the preferred translation is the one that works in most of the world, not the one specific to a certain country.

I think it is important to remember that Mexico alone contains more than twice as many Spanish speakers as Spain, and that doesn't account for the 26 other countries in the world with sizable Hispanaphone populations. Even the US has more Spanish speakers than Spain currently.

I don’t understand why a person wouldn’t know the spanish word carro if you are studying and taking lesson from Duo.

I don't really understand what you're saying here.

I've been on duolingo since 2013 and the word I have learnt on duolingo eng - sp, for the car is el coche. It's always been el coche, it still comes up in my lessons as el coche. Where has carro suddenly come from and why should I suddenly know what it means if duolingo has never taught it to me?

Indeed. Let's all remember that what is familiar to us might be unknown to another learner. It's a vast language.

The use of "carro" instead of "coche" is indeed a relatively recently change on Duolingo.

What Spanish dialect/form is taught with the other German-Spanish course?

More like European (Spain) type?

It does use vosotros, although it accepts ustedes. And presents coche instead of carro, although it mostly accepts carro. I really couldn't tell a lot of difference, though. If you really want Spanish Spanish, try the Catalan course.


Thanks for your feedback.

The EN-SP would be longer with 520 lessons.

So it doesn't make much difference if a new learner chooses EN-SP or DE-SP?

Maybe I even try the PT-SP (from Portuguese) course first to practice more writing in Portuguese and seeing the language similarities/differences, as all of these Spanish courses lack many "tips and notes" (there are just 13 (old) ->9 (new) in the updated EN-SP course), which ARE more available for (En-)PT (but not PT-SP) and FR.
Well, we both know, that for writing (translating) more in(to) the target language (Spanish) - even on crown levels L0-L3 - we would have to start the reverse trees SP-EN / SP-DE anyways, don't we? ;)

I think the Portuguese Spanish is based more on Brazilian Portugues, and Latin American Spanish. I don't know that it makes a lot of difference, you'll see more of the vosotros forms in the DE-SP course, but at the beginning level, truly, there isn't a ton of difference.

If you really want Spanish Spanish, try the Catalan course.

What do you mean speak Spanish Spanish? Catalan is different again to Castillian Spanish, uses many different words and is only spoken in Catalonia by not that many people!

The person I was responding to understood what I meant, but I will explain it for you. The Catalan course is only available through Spanish. The Spanish used in the course is Spanish from Spain. As with all other Duolingo courses, one learns Catalan by translating from one language (Spanish, from Spain or Catalan, depending on the direction, to the other. One does not take the Catalan course expecting it to be Spanish, one takes it because it is a romance language and one is curious.


The fact about SP-Catalan like a laddering tree would be, that I will be forced into writing in Spanish (on the right side of translations, even on early crown L0-L3 levels) but I learn to read Catalan on the left side.

Same happens for my PT-DE reverse tree.

You should be able to choose. I first studied in Argentina, but am now studying again in advance of a move to Spain. So would really like to know I'm learning Castilian, but have no way of knowing.

It's the same freaking language people. I REALLY don't understand why this causes people such consternation. I mean, if an American was travelling to the UK and decided to take a course in 'British English' you would think they were crazy right? It is the same language. People in Spain have no trouble understanding people from Mexico or any other part of the Spanish speaking world. I learned the type of Spanish Duo teaches. I went to Spain. You know how much time I spent adapting? Zero minutes. People in the Midwest USA say 'pop'. People on the East Coast say 'soda'. We all manage to travel and get beverages somehow. And if you are worried about somehow passing as a Spaniard: if you are asking this question, you have a LONG way to go before that happens

They would have to hand select the sentences and replace words for a Castilian course. It would be almost as much work as creating a new course. It would also require a new TTS for the accent.

There are many resources for Castilian Spanish. Memrise has a seven part course, with hundreds of native speakers. You could easily skip the first two courses and use part 3 to review, while learning some new vocabulary.

You also could use to train your ear to the accent and learn some new vocab.

Oh, I understand what they want to do. I am trying to explain why it is pointless. Trying to mimic a particular dialect long before one is fluent in a language often comes across as phony or even offensive. Years ago, I was talking with a Chilean. I asked her what word they used for 'cool', and she said "don't try to use too much local slang. people will find it offensive." And I started to think, what would it sound like if someone who barely knew any English was talking with a, say, Southern or Cockney accent that they had only partially mastered. And then I got it.

There seems to be a perception amongst a lot of folks that Castillian is fundamentally different than 'the rest of Spanish'. This is false. It's not. And the difference between the dialects of Spain and Mexico are no larger that the difference between Mexico and Argentina. But there aren't 3 forum posts a week asking for a Rioplatense tree.

People need to understand that Spanish taught here will serve them just fine when they visit or move to Spain. I've been to Spain. I talk to Spaniards regularly. Personally, I find learning the regional variations of the language part of the fun of learning Spanish, and a part of my (ongoing) Spanish journey.

I've been caught out many times in Spain using words I learnt in Argentina. I recognise it's subtle differences, it would be good to know when a word is not used (or likely understood) in certain contexts. e.g. grifo v canilla. cogar v tomar (a bus).

But, it would be like creating a while new version of the course, like most software does.

But here's the thing- those words vary in EVERY Spanish speaking country in the world, and sometimes even within a country itself. There are 26 of them. You are going to use the wrong word. People will correct you. You will move on and learn. Years ago, when my Spanish was very basic, I asked a Cuban friend if he liked 'tortas cubanas' which are served at a lot of Mexican taquerias. He looked at me like I was loco. Turns out, in Mexico, a torta is a sandwhich made from a specific type of bread (which by the way is called bolillo, telera, birote, or pan francé depending on WHICH REGION of Mexico you are in). In Cuba (and a lot of other places), torta is the word for cake. There is no 'Cuban Cake' in Cuba. Cake, by the way, is sometime la tarta in Spain, el bizcocho in Puerto Rico, and el pastel other places.

Here's a video made by two native speakers about how crazy the regional differences can be:

I would say the best thing to do is to watch movies/tv/listen to music from the region you are traveling to or living in. You can tune your ear to the regional variations and learn about the culture at the same time.

To throw another hat into this ring - I was talking to a woman whose mother tongue is Spanish (I think from either New Mexico or California, actually). They use pastel for pie (which is pay in Mexico) and queque for cake. Food words, words for customs, places, and every day objects are the words that differ most from area to area.

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