Spanish language in Ecuador

Map of the main dialects spoken in Ecuador.

Spanish is the most-widely spoken language in Ecuador, though great variations are present depending on several factors, the most important one being the geographical region where it is spoken. The three main regional variants are:

Other sociolinguistic factors that influence in the way of speaking are the ethnic or social class of the speaker, and whether the speaker lives in an urban or rural area. Since the Coast and the Highlands are the most populous areas, these are the country's most widely used dialects, despite being quite different from each other. For instance, there are many idioms specific to each region or province, and others that are used and understood nationwide.

Pacific Coast

This Spanish variant is classified within the Equatorial Spanish dialect, which extends from the south Pacific coastal Colombia to the northern coast of Peru, crossing the Ecuadorian seacoast. The influential linguistic center of this dialectal region is the port city of Guayaquil.

The most remarkable feature of this variant, is the aspiration of the letter "s" at the end of words or when preceded by another consonant, often being pronounced as a smooth English "h". Likewise, letter "j" is not pronounced as strongly as in other variants [x] but rather smoothly and aspirated [h]. These features are shared with the Caribbean and Canary Islands dialects of Spanish.

Thus, this dialect set the phonemical axis of accentual-tonal transition throughout the American varieties of Spanish, which extends geographically from the northern semi-low intonation of Central American and the Caribbean dialects (since only the European variants of Spanish are particularly low-pitched) to the sharp high intonation characteristic of the lands located south, typical of Peru, Chile and Argentina.

Therefore, the variant of Spanish spoken in the Ecuadorian coast and its neighboring western Andean plains, shares lots of features of both Caribbean dialects of northern Colombia and Venezuela, as well as some southern features of the Peruvian seaboard, making identification of this dialect difficult to the ears of an outsider.

In addition, this variant has incorporated into its lexicon a number of words shared with other dialects of Ecuador which are understood only within the country . These words come mostly from the Andean Spanish dialects of Ecuador, with strong influences from Quichua (Northern Quechua), although the Quechua language had no historical presence in the Ecuadorian coast. This is the case of the Quechua-origin word "ñaño" (brother) which is widespread throughout the country.

Other regions in the Coast tend to speak a very similar dialect to the one spoken in the city of Guayaquil, due to its influence, specially in urban areas. Slight local variations may be found however.


In the highlands of Ecuador, a variant of Spanish is spoken, often confused by foreigners with Chilango Spanish—the dialect spoken in Mexico City—due to its similarities. However, it can be subdivided in four dialects:

The Spanish spoken in the Ecuadorian Andes tends to have many idioms borrowed from Quechua, the native language spoken by the indigenous from this region. Words such as ñaño (which is used by many to refer to brother or "bro", while ñaña would mean sister) or choclo (corn) are widely used by people of any ethnicity or social class in this area.
Voseo (the substitution of the second-person pronoun for vos) is also very common in this region of the country, used only for informal conversations between friends or relatives.


The Amazonian region has a variant similar to the Central Andean dialect, though there are little differences. For instance, the quijo population from the northern areas, use the 2nd pronoun but conjugate the following verb with the 3rd person, usted.

Galapagos Islands

At the islands, a dialect very similar to the one from Guayaquil is spoken, with no major variations, since it is a very low-populated region if compared to the rest of the country.

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