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 Resources to Learn Spanish> Grammar>Orthographic Rules  

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Spanish Orthographic Rules

 


 

Use of B

 

        It must be written with B:

 

1)  Any verbs in which infinitive time ends with:

BER 

beber; to drink .

 

BIR  

 recibir; to receive. 

BUIR  

inbuir; to inculcate. 

Exceptions:

        Precaver, ver; volver; hervir; servir, vivir.

        ...and their compound times.

 

2)    The 1st person indicative imperfect past conjugation.

            In the first person indicative imperfect past conjugation such as: amaba; lloraba; bailaba.

 

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3)     The words that start with the following sounds:

BAN 

banco; bank.

 

BAT

batallón; battalion. 

BAR

barco; boat.

BOR  

borde; border.

BAS  

basta; enough.

BOT

bote; can.

BIBL 

biblioteca; library. 

BU

bula; bull.

BUR

burgés; bourgeois. 

BUS

buscador; searcher.  

Exceptions:

        Vándalo, vanguardia, vanidad, vara, varear, variar, varilla, varón, vasallo, vasco, vaselina, vasija, vaso, vástago y vasto, vate ,vaticano, vaticinar, voracidad, vorágine, votar, vuestro.

 

4)     The words that end with the following sounds:

BILIDAD accesibilidad;
accessibility.
  ILABA  Polisílaba; 
polysyllable.
BUNDO vagabundo;
vagabond.
ILABO monosílabo;
monosyllabic.
BUNDA abundante;
plentiful.
 

Exceptions:

        Civilidad, movilidad.

5)     Syllables that have a b sound after a consonant.

            In syllables that have a "b" sound after a consonant such as in amable and brusco.          

 

6)     Always after m.

            The "b" is always used after an "m" such as bomba, ambiente.

 

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Use of V

 

        It must be written with V:

 

1) When there is a V sound after the following syllable:

AD 

adviento; advent.

 

IN

inversión; investment.

CLA

clavel; carnation.

JO  

jóven; young.

CON  

convención; convention.

PRI  

privado; private.

DI

dividir; divide.

Exception:

        Dibujo.

 

2) In adjectives that end in: 

AVA 

octava; eighth.

 

EVE

nieve; snow.

AVE

llave; key.

EVO

huevo; egg.

AVO

esclavo; slave.

IVA

masiva; massive.

EVA

nueva; new (fem.) 

IVO

cautivo; captive.

Exception:

 

        "Arabe" and composed conjugations, as well as the adjectives formed with the "sílaba" substantive (monosílabo, bisílabo, etc).

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3) All of the verb "ir" present time conjugations.

            In all the verb "ir" present time conjugations as in: voy, ve, vaya, etc.

 

 

4) The verbs ended in "servar". 

            In all the verbs ended in "servar" like in: conservar/ conserve;  reservar/ reserve.

 

                   Exception:

 

                            Desebrar.

 

 

5) Composed words starting with "vice".

VICE

vicepresidente; vicepresident 

 

VILLA 

villamediana 

VILLAR 

Villarejo

 

 

6) Words that end in:

 

IVORA 

herbívora; herbivorous.

VIRO 

             

IVORA

carnívoro; carnivorous.

VIRA

Elvira;

                    

                    Exception:

 

                            Víbora.

 

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Use of G before E or I

 

You must write G before E or I when:

 

1) The words start with "GEO"

            In words that start with "geo" like: geometría, geología and geografía.

 

2) In words that end in:

 

GELICO 

angélico; angelic.

 

 

 

 

 

GEN

orígen; origin.

GENARIO 

nonagenario; nonagenarian.

GENEO

homogéneo; homogeneous .

GENICO

fotogénico; photogenic.

GENIO

ingenio;

ingenious.

GENITO

primogénito; first-born.

GESIMAL

vigesimal; twentieth.

GESIMO

trigésimo; thirtieth.

GETICO

exegético; exegetic.

GIENICO

higiénico; hygienic.

GINAL

virginal; virginal.

GINEO

virgíneo; virginal.

GINOSO

caliginoso; gloomy.

GISMO

neologísmo; neologism. 

GIA

magia; magic.

GIO

litígio; lawsuit.

GION

religión; religion.

GIONAL

regional; regional.

GIONARIO 

legionario; legionary.

GIOSO

religioso; religious.

GIRICO

panegírico; panegyric.

INGENA

indígena; Indian.

IGENO

oxígeno; oxygen.

OGIA

psicología; psychology.

OGICO

tecnológico; technologic. 

                       

                    Exceptions:

                            comejen, ojen, aguajinoso, espejismo,  salvajismo.

 

3) The infinitives ended in:

 

IGERAR 

aligerar; to lighten.    

 

GER 

recoger; to pick up.  

GIR

surgir;

to spurt up. 

 

                   Exceptions:

                           tejer, crujir.

 

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Use of J before E or I

 

You must write J in the following cases:

 

1) The sounds je and ji. 

             The sounds "je" and "ji" from the infinitive verbs which have neither "g" nor "j" such as "dije" (from the verb "decir"), "reduje" (from the verb "reducir").

 

2) The words with the following terminations:

 

JE 

mensaje; message.

 

JERO 

viajero; traveler.

JERIA 

cerrajería; lock shop. 

JIN

trajín; 

 

                    Exceptions:

                           ambage, magín, auge, cónyuge, esfinge, faringe, laringe, parágoge and some others.

 

3) The derivatives from words that have -JA, -JO and -JU.

             The derivatives from words that have -JA, -JO, -JU  like ajillo (ajo).

 

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Use of H

 

You must write an H in the following situations:

 

1) In words that originally had an " F "

 

-farina 

harina; flour.   

 

facere 

hacer; to do. 

 

2) In words that start with the following sounds:

 

IA

hiato;  hiatus.         

 

IE

hielo;  

ice.

UE

huevo; 

egg.

IDR

hidráulico; hydraulic.

IGR

higrometría; hygrometry.   

UI

huida; 

escape.

IPER 

hiperespacio; hyperspace.

IPO

hipopótamo; hipopotamus. 

OG

hogar; 

home.

OLG 

holgura; looseness.

OPS

hospital; hospital.

 

 

 

                Exceptions:
                        Ipecacuana, ogro.

 

3) Any form of the verbs "HABER" and "HACER".

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4) Any words that start with:

 

ELIO

heliopuerto; heliport.

 

EMA

hematoma; bruise.

EMI

hemiciclo; hemicycle.

EMO

hemofilia; hemophilia.

EPTA 

heptagonal; heptagonal.

ETERO 

heterogéneo; heterogeneous.  

OME

homeopatía; homeopathy.  

OMO

homólogo; homologous.

 

                    Exceptions:
                            Among others:  emanar, emancipar, emitir, emigrar, eminencia, emitir, emoción, emoliente, emolimento, omóplato.

 

5) Most of the time, an "H" appears in between two vowels without a diphthong

            almohada, alcohol, ahorcar.

 

6) The composite words and derivitives written with "H".

            Composite words and derivitives written with "H":  deshonra, deshonesto.

                    Exceptions:
                        orfandad, orfanato (from huérfano)
                        osario, osamenta, óseo (from hueso)
                        oquedad. (from hueco)
                        oval, ovalado, ovalo, ovíparo, ovo & ovoide (from huevo)

 

7) At the end of one syllable interjections.

            At the end of one syllable interjections such as: Ah!, bah!, oh!

 

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Use of M

            You must write "M" when:

 

1) "M" is written instead of "N" always before "B" and "P" like in: imberbe, amparo.

 

2) "M" is written before "n", like in himno, except in the preposition compounds like "en" (ennegrecer), "in" (innecesario), "con" (convivencia) and "sin" (sinnúmero).

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Orthographic use of K

 

            It is only used in foreign words incorporated to the Spanish language like kan, kilo or kermesse.

 

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Use of X instead of S

            X is used when:

 

1) At the beginning of a word before a vowel and h;

             At the beginning of a word before a vowel or "h" like in: "exaltación", "exhalación".

 

 

2) Almost always before:

 

CR

excreción; excretion.

 

PLA

explanar; to level.

PLE 

expletivo; expletive.

PLI

explicación; explanation.

PLO

explorar; to explore.

PRE

expresivo; expressive.

PRI

exprimidor; squeezer.  

PRO 

expropriar; to expropriate. 

 

 

3) In the words that start with the following prefixes:

 

EX 

extender;    to extend.

 

EXTRA 

extraordinario; extraordinary. 

 

 

4) Words intended to be written with X.

             Some words are intended to be written with x, but they sound like j; such as México or Oaxaca.

 

 

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Use of R

 

            A single "R" produces a strong sound at the beginning of the word, and after "l", "n", or "s": rosa, alrededor, Israel. 

            To produce the same strong sound between two vowels, you must use a double "r" like in ferrocarril, errante, etc.

 

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