How to sort family names


Suppose a Spanish woman's married name is María Santos y Angeles. It means that Santos is her paternal family name and Angeles is her husband's paternal family name. If her name were to be included in a list sorted alphabetically, let's say like a class list of students, which of her family names would be used in placing her in the list? Will it still be the "Santos" or will it now be the "Angeles"?


updated MAY 17, 2010
posted by Rikko

3 Answers


Hi, Rikko.

A married woman will keep her father's paternal last name and add "de + her husband's paternal last name. She will be María Santos de Angeles. Alphabetically, the first last name is the one that counts, so she will be in the "S" column.

Her children will have their father's paternal last name first - in the case "Angeles" and then their mother's paternal last name - in this case "Santos". Their last names will be "Angeles Santos". They will be in the "A" column.

updated MAY 17, 2010
posted by mountaingirl123
That´s one of the best explanations I´ve seen I must say! Confusion arises when an English person has to fill in a Spanish form which asks for dos apellidos which of course we don´t have!
So in all cases, the paternal family of the person is used for sorting.
Muchas gracias, mountaingirl!
BTW, in the Philippines, the maternal family name (FN) comes first, followed by the paternal FN, but the sorting is on the paternal family name.
When she gets married, her paternal FN takes the place of her maternal FN and her husband's paternal FM becomes her second family name. For sorting purposes, she now uses her husband's family name.

Well, actually in Spain surnames work in a different way. For example: A woman called: María (name), García (first surname) Martínez (second surname) married to José (name) Pérez (first name) Torregrosa (second surname)

They had two children: a girl called Carmen and a boy called Antonio. So their daughter was called: Carmen Pérez (father´s first surname) García (mother´s first surname) and their son Antonio Pérez (father´s first surname) García (mother´s first surname).

So at school Carmen will be in an alphabetic list of students sorted by alphabetic fist surname.

Jesús Antón Rodríguez Elena Berenguer Calatayud .......................................... ........................................ Carmen Pérez García

updated MAY 17, 2010
posted by Anuk
Well now I am totally confused - see above!
At first I thought this is different from the other 2 answers, but "sorted by alphabetic first surname" makes it consistent with the other two answers.
Muchas gracias, Anuk!
Your welcome, Rikko.

She will be María Santos de Angeles

Not in Spain , mountainwink

In Spain women keep the names they have before marriage:

So my name could be:

Luisa Gonzalez Gómez (father's, then mother's surname)

If I get married to a certain Miguel Cervantes Mesa, they might call me:

La señora de Cervantes (Mesa).

But I consider this rather old fashioned. You do not really know if a woman is married or not in Spain until she tells your her partents surnames.

So if I went to university for example, married to el señor Cervantes, I would still be in the "g" group, Gonzalez.

updated MAY 17, 2010
edited by 00494d19
posted by 00494d19
OK, I think you and MG agree that it is your paternal family name that will be used in the alphabetical listing whether you are married or not.
Muchas gracias, Heidita!
yes, that is correct, welcome rikko:)