This review examines the evidence regarding the clinical and neurophysiological differences between voluntary and spontaneous swallows. From the clinical point of view, voluntary swallow (VS) occurs when a human has a desire to eat or drink during the awake and aware state. Spontaneous swallow (SS) is the result of accumulated saliva and/or food remnants in the mouth. It occurs without awareness while awake and also during sleep. VS is a part of eating behavior, while SS is a type of protective reflex action. In VS, there is harmonized and orderly activation of perioral, lingual, and submental striated muscles in the oral phase. In SS, the oral phase is bypassed in most cases, although there may be partial excitation. Following the oral phase, both VS and SS have a pharyngeal phase, which is a reflex phenomenon that protects the upper airway from any escape of food and direct the swallowed material into the esophagus. This reflexive phase of swallowing should not be confused with SS. VS and SS are similar regarding their dependence on the swallowing Central Pattern Generator (CPG) at the brainstem, which receives sensory feedback from the oropharynx. There are differences in the role of the corticobulbar input between VS and SS.