Hispanic and Latino: What’s the Main Difference?

Hispanic and Latino Americans have a culture and heritage intertwined in ways more than one. It’s no surprise that many use the terms Hispanic and Latino interchangeably.

Having a Latina or Latino friend or SO (significant other) in your life is a blessing. But it might also feel like walking in a minefield, especially when you misuse so many Latinx terms. Our advice for you? Learn everything you can about Latinx culture.

latino dating

Lucky for you, we prepared your step one to Latinx 101. Unlearn everything you know so far and rediscover the intricate terms and labels Latinx (prefer to) use. Read with an open mind and a cheerful heart. Enjoy!

Hispanic and Latino: How are they different?

Hispanic and Latino are pan-ethnic labels meant to define and outline a group of people currently residing in the United States who identify themselves as such. They’re the ones who acknowledge belonging to this large and thriving community—either by birth, color, or ancestry.

The United States government uses the terms Hispanic and Latino to loosely classify immigrants and their ancestors who come from this side of the globe. Don’t confuse Hispanic and Latino as terms used to define racial classifications—White, Black, or Asian—just yet.

Although the terms Hispanic and Latino refer to ethnicity, culture, and identity, they are more complex and broader in terms of race or ethnicity, making the terms confusing.

This business can be quite complicated since there is a vast overlap between countries in Latin America. So, calling everyone from Central and South America’ Latinos’ would be a crime—okay, not really. This colossal overlap is why the two terms are often used interchangeably.

To make things easier, let’s break them down by definition:


Hispanics refer to those who are from or descendants of Spanish-speaking countries. This term also includes those from countries or territories in the Caribbean or from Spain itself. Hence, there are citizens from Latin American countries that are both Latinos and Hispanics.

Which are Hispanic countries?

Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela are the Hispanic countries.


‘Latino’ is a shorthand term for the Spanish word Latinoamericano. They hail from American countries whose predominant languages stem from Latin—Spanish, Portuguese, French.

Who are natives of Latin America?

Inhabitants or natives of Latin America came from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Can you be both Hispanic and Latino?

Yes, save for the few definite exceptions we mentioned.

Latinx—what does it mean?

Latinx is a pan-ethnic label that has emerged as a gender or LGBTQ-inclusive alternative to Latino and Hispanic. The professional arena, that is, news and entertainment outlets, companies, local governments, and universities, use the term ‘Latinx’ to define and include the nation’s Hispanic population.

While many critics assert the term’s appropriateness in a gendered language like Spanish, many agree it surfaces in the perfect time.

The emergence of Latinx perfectly fits in an era that introduces gender-neutral nouns and pronouns. This is an ideal global movement as it helps gradually wipe out traditionally used male or female constructions.

When to use the terms Latinx, Hispanic, and Latino?

It always depends on who you’re talking to or with. Besides appropriate terms, context matters, including customs and cultural norms.

As such, you can use the term Latinx when talking to any millennial, Gen Zer, or a loved one. Meanwhile, you may use Latino or Hispanic when talking to someone you’re supposed to be professional with as it’s more of the custom.

Hispanic and Latino
via Giphy

Do language and ancestry play a role in being called a Latinx?

Many have an inclusive view of what it truly means to be a Latinx. They assert that language or even a Latinx last name aren’t requirements to be considered one.

However, many share the same sentiments that you have to have a Latinx heritage or ancestry to be one. Nonetheless, it is entirely up to someone to identify themselves as Latino or not.

Finally: How to make your Latinx date happy?

The dating space in Latin American countries isn’t much different from other countries. They are pretty much content with anything that makes their heart flutter—like anyone in love.

So, maybe the question here is how to make them fall madly in love? Here’s a brief list for your quick and fun use!

Hispanic and Latino
via Giphy

1. Be romantic and express your love

Many Latinos and Latinas are hopeless romantics—romance runs deep within their souls. If you’re the type to act cool and keep all your feelings to yourself, dating a Latinx might be a bad idea.

Nonetheless, Latinos and Latinas appreciate simple things in life. A lovely bouquet or adorable post-it love notes in the morning, along with some fun party songs, will always suffice. 

2. Make them laugh

The easiest way to swoop inside your Latinx date’s heart is to delight them with your wit and funny punchlines. However, be sure to mind the terms you use as well. They might be sensitive to your choice of punchlines and feel hurt.

via Giphy

3. Respect their beliefs, family, and culture

Respect should always be the foundation or basis of an interethnic relationship. As your relationship intensifies, you might need to talk about religious leanings, family opinions, and cultural beliefs. And, perhaps, you might not share the same viewpoints about them. As such, respect the traditions and customs they believe or follow.

Besides this, don’t try to mock or talk back to their family—they are family-oriented people. Show them that you can rise above their family’s hostility on you, should they have a few.

Be in love and have fun!

While many use the labels Hispanic and Latino interchangeably, they have different meanings, each equally important and beautiful. At its very core, these terms encompass ethnicity, culture, and identity. All these are also rooted in shared cultures instead of racial categories.

As a rule of thumb, when using these terms to refer to someone, always ask how they identify themselves and respect that. Be extra sure to follow this when it comes to your loved ones, too.

We hope we helped instill a piece of knowledge about the intricate Latinx culture. Stay tuned for more like this by subscribing. Be in love and have fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to TrulyLatino

Receive up-to-date news, dating tips, and more!

Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.