Contractions in Spanish

The Spanish contractions your textbook didn’t tell you about

According to your Spanish textbook there are only two contractions in Spanish.

Your Spanish textbook and most likely your Spanish teacher probably neglected to teach you several other Spanish contractions that are used so much I considered it the equivalent of criminal negligence not to teach it.

Let’s talk about the official Spanish contractions first.

We’ll start with the contraction AL.

So what is al? Al is….

A + el = al

To be even more specific a means to and el means the

Now it’s time to look at an example.

Voy a el parque
I’m going to the park

Simple isn’t it?

But let’s back up for a second.

Unlike English, in Spanish you cannot pick and choose when to use (or not use) contractions.  In Spanish you are required to make the contraction.  So that means Voy a el parque is incorrect.  If you say it that way you’ll be understood, but it will sound really, really weird.

You have to make the Spanish contraction and say:

Voy al parque
I’m going to the park

OK, one down, one to go.

Next we get to our second official Spanish contraction, DEL.

What is del?

Del is de + el

De means from and if you remember from above, el means the

Let’s look at an example:

Soy de el sur
I’m from the south

We’re almost there. Remember, we have to make the contraction.

Soy del sur

Easy right?

One thing I need to point out is not to confuse el with él.

El means the and él (note the accent over the e) means him or his

So if we have the sentence:

Es de él
It’s his

We don’t use the contraction del because it’s él and not el.

And that’s all there is to it.  For the official Spanish contractions that is.

Now let’s talk about the unofficial Spanish contractions.  You know, the Spanish contractions they don’t commonly teach.

What follows are informal Spanish contractions, generally used only in spoken Spanish and informal writings.   You won’t see them in newspapers or hear them on the evening news, or in any environment where being grammatically correct is a requirement.  But don’t let that fool you, these Spanish contractions are used daily, and often.

With that said, take a look at the photo below.


Pa’l is a contraction of “para el“.  You may also see it written as pal, pa’l or pal’.

Casi Muero, Pa’l Facebook
I almost died, this (photo) is for Facebook

Speaking of taking photos, if you  have 3 minutes to spare this video is a parody of the ridiculous amount of photos some people take for Facebook.  I think we all have at least one friend like this.  I think you’ll get a few laughs out of it.  And more importantly, it will give you the chance to hear the contraction pa’l spoken by native speakers.

Don’t worry if you can’t understand everything.  Just listen for the words “Foto pa’l Feis“.   It will be good listening practice as well.  You’ll know when to pay extra close attention because the camera and the smiles come out.

By the way, “feis” is pronounced just like face, which is a colloquial way many Spanish speakers refer to Facebook.

If you can’t see the video, click here to watch it on YouTube.

And speaking of Facebook, if you need to brush up on your Spanish vocabulary for Facebook, then read my post Si tu ere dominicano dale like that I published on my sister blog.

Let’s take a look at some more unofficial Spanish contractions.

Para + allá becomes Pa’llá

Voy pa’lla ahora mismo
I’m headed over there right now

Para + arriba becomes Pa’ rriba

Voy pa’ rriba
I’m going upstairs

Para + qué becomes Pa’ qué

Préstame el coche.  ¿Pa’ qué?
Loan me the car.  For what?

Pa’ qué tu sepas, voy al super
Just so you know, I’m going to the supermaket

These unofficial Spanish contractions are extremely common and you’ll be lost trying to understand everyday speech without them, so the sooner you get familiar with them the better.

That’s it for today, espero que les sirva.

Comments 5

  1. You, do know some contractions are considered slang and cannot be used in news, newspapers, formal education, such as the one you mention ‘pal while using del or al is completely legit grammatically speaking.

    1. Post

      Hi Nicolas!

      First of all, Thanks for reading.

      And you are absolutely correct. I’ll modify this post to make sure the readers understand that.

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