A simple lesson on contractions in Spanish
Published on December 1, 2023
If you’re starting to learn Spanish, there may come a point where you ask yourself: Are there contractions in Spanish? And are they difficult to learn? The answer is… yes there are and no, they’re not difficult to learn! You’ll see how easy they are in a moment.
Grammatical contractions are key in helping language sound more natural and flow more easily –just imagine what English would be like if we didn’t have contractions like ‘can’t’ or ‘isn’t’! Well, as with English, learning Spanish contractions is essential to becoming fluent in the language.
So, let’s have a quick lesson on Spanish contractions, going over what they are and how to use them.
Contractions are a grammatical device that combines two words into one. This is done by removing one or more of these words’ letters and gluing the rest together (like ‘haven’t’ instead of ‘have not’ or ‘don’t’ instead of ‘do not’).
In English, contractions are used in both speaking and writing. They are vital to the natural flow of language because they make pronunciation easier and convey a relaxed tone. However, we tend to avoid them in formal texts. When it comes to Spanish, though, we may find some differences in this regard. Let’s talk about it below.
In Spanish, contractions are not just a handy tool to shorten our sentences, aid pronunciation and express friendliness. They’re needed for grammar correctness in both formal and casual language! That’s why learning them is so important.
Having said that, let’s take a look at the three different types of contractions in Spanish and how to form them:
When the prepositions a (to) and de (from/of) are followed by the definite article el (the), we must form a contraction. It is not optional. Let’s dive into it:
Note: these contractions can only be formed with the article el. For example, voy camino a la escuela (I’m on my way to school) can’t become voy camino ‘al’ escuela because la escuela is feminine and does not form this contraction. Same goes for ‘de la‘.
The preposition con (with) contracts with the prepositional pronouns mí, ti and sí and the suffix –go is added at the end. If the pronoun has an accent, we must remove it.
When we use an infinitive, gerund or command coupled with a direct or indirect object pronoun, we must contract them into one word. How? We place the pronoun after the verb. Sometimes, we’ll also need to add an accent to stress the correct syllable. Here are some examples:
We started this article by asking ourselves ‘does Spanish have contractions?’ We know now that it does and we know how to use them… but are there cases where contractions shouldn’t be used in Spanish? Yes! But they’re simple. We don’t use contractions when:
Contractions in Spanish are critical for proper grammar. You have to learn them if you want to become fluent. The good news? They’re easy to learn and there aren’t very many of them to remember. You can practice identifying Spanish contractions by reading books, watching movies and listening to songs and podcasts in Spanish. Pay attention and try to spot them when they’re being used. You’ll have them down in no time!