Grammar Contractions in Spanish

by Maria Martin on Monday, December 16, 2019

We have already talked about the linguistic economy in Spanish, for example, about abbreviations and apocopes. As you know, in order to save time and space, sometimes we shorten the words, or even join several to create a single word. Today, it's time to tell you what contractions are, and also to show you some examples so that you learn to use them properly. Thus, it will be easier for you to learn Spanish and, above all, to use it accurately.

Read this blog post in Spanish.

What is a grammar contraction?

The contraction in grammar is a morphological resource (morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies the structure of words) in which the union of two words occurs (the second usually begins with a vowel) to form a single one. The contraction resorts to the rhetorical figure of the diction (alteration of the composition of the words or phrases), and primarily to the transformation or metaplasm (alteration of the writing or pronunciation of the words without changing their meaning).

Types of contractions in Spanish


1. Preposition + article

This is the most frequent type of contraction in the Spanish language:

A + el = al

De + el = del

* Example: "Marta fue al médico porque se encontraba mal."

We don't say: "Marta fue a el médico porque se encontraba mal.”

2. Preposition “para”

Although they have a very colloquial use and have not yet been accepted by the RAE (Royal Academy of the Spanish Language), it is possible that, in some informal conversation or colloquial piece of speech, you will hear the following contractions with the preposition “para”. However, never write these constructions in a contracted way or use them in situations that are not quite informal or for a very specific purpose.

Para + el/la = pal/pa’la (use only in very informal situations).

*Example: "El poder, pal pueblo".

Para + allá = pa’llá (use only in very informal situations).

*Example: “Vete pa’llá.”

Para + que/qué = pa’que / pa’qué (use only in very informal situations).

*Example: “Pa’que veas.”

Para + arriba = pa’rriba (use only in very informal situations).

*Example: “Venga p’arriba.”

Para + delante = pa´lante (use only in very informal situations).

*Example: “Un pasito pa’lante, María.”

Para + abajo = pa’bajo (use only in very informal situations).

*Example: “Tira pa’bajo.”

Para + atrás = pa’trás (use only in very informal situations).

*Example: “Ni in paso pa’tras.”

Para + dentro = pa’dentro (use only in very informal situations).

*Example: “¡Arriba, abajo, al centro… y pa’dentro!”

3. Other cases 

Donde + quiera= doquiera = doquier

*Example: “Hay gente por doquier.”

Otra + hora = otrora

*Example: “Esta ciudad era otrora campo…”

Entre + ambos = entrambos

*Example: “Entrambos hermanos construyeron una casa.”

At don Quijote, we know that facing the challenge of learning a new language is never easy and can be almost heroic. However, we hope that this post is useful for you and that you can practice grammar contractions when you visit Spain or Latin America.


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