Language Guide
Prepositions
Spanish Contractions

Spanish Contractions

Quick Answer

English has quite a lot of contractions (short forms of a word or group of words made by leaving out a sound or letter), such as can’t, we’ll, you’d, they’re, and you’ve. Spanish, however, has only two!

Meet Al and Del

When the prepositions a  (to) or de  (of or from) come before the definite article el , they combine with it to form a contraction.

Word Math

a + el = al 

de + el = del 

More on Al

Normally, whenever a and el are together, you must contract them to al . However, if el is a capitalized part of a name, it does not contract to al when used with a.

For example:

Correct SpanishIncorrect SpanishEnglish
¿Vas al hotel?  ¿Vas a el hotel?Are you going to the hotel?
Vamos al restaurante allá.  Vamos a el restaurante allá.We are going to the restaurant over there.
Se fueron a El Paso.  Se fueron al Paso.They went to El Paso.

More on Del

Normally, whenever de and el are together, you must shorten them to del . However, if el is a capitalized part of a name, it does not contract to del when used with de. Sound familiar? It should. It's the same rule you just learned for al!

Check out these examples of correct and incorrect sentences.

Correct SpanishIncorrect SpanishEnglish
Esta es la clase del profesor.  Esta es la clase de el profesor.This is the professor's class.
Soy del Reino Unido.  Soy de el Reido Unido.I'm from the United Kingdom.
Es de El Salvador.  Es del Salvador.He's from El Salvador.

Exception alert!

Do not form contractions with the subject pronoun él  or with any definite articles other than el.

Check out these examples of correct and incorrect sentences.

Correct SpanishIncorrect SpanishEnglish
Es la casa de él.  Es la casa dél.It is his house.
Es el libro de la mujer bonita.  Es el libro dela mujer bonita.It is the pretty woman’s book.
Soy amiga de las hermanas de Anita.  Soy amiga delas hermanas de Anita.I'm a friend of Anita’s sisters.
Son los juguetes de los niños.  Son los juguetes^ delos^ niños.They are the children’s toys.

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