Top Tips for Translating into Neutral Spanish

Companies translate their websites into Spanish for one reason: Spanish ranks third on the list of languages that are spoken most around the world. However, as the Spanish language varies significantly in each region it is spoken in, it can be a challenge to reach the broadest audience possible.

Most companies will ask for a “neutral” Spanish translation as a solution. Neutral Spanish is considered a kind of Standard Spanish: one which reaches all Spanish speakers, no matter the region they come from or live in. It’s not an official spoken language. When it comes to commercial texts, it consists of building up a message that pays special attention to the use of set phrases, expressions, and terminology. It can be a good solution for projects on a budget, although depriving the language from local expressions may translate into a loss of style and effectiveness of communication.

Fundéu’s style guide for global Spanish is a useful resource to start with. Because translating into neutral Spanish for a global audience requires a great deal of research and effort, here are some basic tips:

  • Use simple grammar structures.
  • Keep in mind that some terms or verbs might be offensive in certain Spanish-speaking regions. Choose equivalents that can be widely understood instead.
  • Try not to leave terms in English. For instance, don’t use the term smartphone in a Spanish text when you have teléfono inteligente as a Spanish equivalent.
  • Be careful with adjectives like cool or great. This type of adjective has many colloquial equivalents that may sound strange in other regions. You can use, for example, genial, fantástico, and increíble.

Vocabulary Conflicts

You will find that vocabulary differences are one of the main challenges for this type of translation. Vocabulary should be easily understood and make sentences flow naturally. Above all, your work should never be perceived as offensive.

Here are some examples on vocabulary:

English Spanish (Spain) Spanish (Latin America) Neutral Spanish
Take Coger Agarrar Tomar
Suitcase Maleta Valija Equipaje
Ticket Billete Boleto Pasaje
Apartment/Flat Piso Departamento Apartamento
Computer Ordenador Computadora Equipo/Equipo informático
Glasses Gafas Anteojos/Lentes Lentes
Mobile phone Móvil Celular Teléfono móvil
Car Coche Carro/Auto Automóvil


About Victoria Sfriso

I’m a native Spanish writer and translator living in Spain, with cultural knowledge and life experience in Latin America, France, Italy. I translate into Spanish and Catalan from Italian, French, and English. I find it fulfilling to learn new languages and new cultures. I specialize primarily in tourism, medical, and literary translations. I enjoy being a freelance translator.