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1. Grammar and Spelling
2. Punctuation
3. Measurements and Abbreviations
4. Hyphenation
5. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
6. Geographic Distribution
7. Character Set

Section One - Grammar and Spelling

1. Gender: There are three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. In general, the feminine is denoted by the termination "a", although there are lots of exceptions. There are no declensions in Spanish, and therefore no cases.

2. Articles: Definite articles are "el" (masc. sing.), "la" (fem. sing.), "lo" (neuter, sing.), "los" (masc. pl.), "las" (fem. pl.), "los" (neut. pl). Indefinite articles are "un" (masc. sing.), "una" (fem. sing.), "unos" (masc. pl.), "unas" (fem. pl.).

3. Accents: Recent rules indicate that accents should always be used if capital letters are used.

4. Plurals: The plural form can be recognised, in general, by the ending "s" or "es".

Section Two - Punctuation

1. Question and exclamation marks: Questions and exclamations use an opening question mark (¿) and an opening exclamation mark (¡), which are used at the beginning of the sentence.

2. Full stops: Full stops are used at the end of sentences, bullet points and abbreviations. No double space is used after a full stop.

3. Speech marks: Speech marks are used in the following way:

1. "Give me more work!" shouted Chloe. - ¡Dénme más trabajo! - gritó Chloe.
2. "Would anyone like some tea?" asked George. - ¿Alguien quiere más té? - preguntó George.
3. "I'm bored - can I go home now?" Michala said. - Estoy aburrida& ¿me puedo ir a casa ya? - preguntó Michala.

4. Apostrophe: The apostrophe is used sparingly to indicate elisions, usually when transcribing the spoken word (pa' instead of para).

5. Colons, semi-colons and ellipsis: Colons, and the ellipsis (&) are used essentially as in English. Semi-colons are not often used, and generally speaking they should be substituted by full stops. There is however one notable exception: one subclause should be separated from another by a semi-colon.

6. Capitalisation: In headings, only the first word is capitalised. One exception is newspaper headlines, which usually follow the norm of capitalising all words except articles and conjunctions. The first word of product names should also be capitalised, although this depends, to a large extent, on marketing decisions. In sentences, only the first word is capitalised. In proper names, all words are capitalised, except when the name includes prepositions or articles. Thus, Miguel de Cervantes, but De Cervantes if only the last name is used. Days of the week, seasons and months are not capitalised.

Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurements: The metric system is used for most everyday measurements, but computer monitors and TV screens, inner diameter of pipes/tubes, nautical miles, size of computer discs, as well as, on many occasions, the sizes of nuts, bolts, wrenches, torque values, nails, wire gauges and other industrial measurements, use the imperial system.

Decimals and thousands are written as follows: 4.5 cm/4,000/50,00. In some Latin-American countries and in Spain they are written as: 4,5 cm / 4.000 / 50.00.

Times are written thus: 10.30 AM /4.30 PM / medianoche (midnight)

Dates are written in the following way:

20 February 2004 - 20 de febrero de 2004
20th February 2004 - 20 de febrero de 2004
20/02/2004 - 20/02/2004
February 20 - 20 de febrero

In general, there should always be a space between a figure and a measurement abbreviation. But, there should never be a space before a % symbol.

Generally speaking, 30 °C is more prevalent but it varies according to different style manuals.

Currency symbols are written as follows: $230= 230 pesos / 230 pesos mexicanos /$98 billion= 98 mil millones de pesos mexicanos / €45= MXP45, 000.

2. Abbreviations:

N/a, which sometimes appears as N/d, but not always. This is not usually abbreviated and the phrase "no existe", or "no disponible" is often used.

No. (nos.) - No. N°
e.g. - not abbreviated: por ejemplo WxLxHxD - varies with style manuals, a usual convention is An x La x Al x Prf
1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th - 1°, 2°, 3°, 4°
Mr. / Mrs. - Sr. Sra.
Messrs. - Sres.
Miss - Srta.
Dear Sir / Madam - Apreciados señores
m (for metre) - m
cm (for centimetre) - cm
lb (for pound weight) - lb or libra
g (for gram) - g
km (for kilometre) - km
yr (for year) - año
k (for 1000) - K

EMEA (Europe, Middle-East & Asia) - EMOA (very unusual)

Days of the week: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun - Lun Mar Mié Jue Vie Sáb Dom

Months: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec / Ene. Feb. Mar. Abr. May. Jun. Jul. Ago. Sep. (or Sept.) Oct. Nov. Dic.

Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (not normally abbreviated in English) - primavera, verano, otoño, invierno

Section Four - Hyphenation

Hyphens are used by syllabic structure, but this structure differs a great deal in Spanish and English. The word "America" in English would be "Am-er-ic-a" and in Spanish "A-mé-ri-ca. It is not very common to join words together using hyphens.

There are some prefixes/suffixes that are joined to words using hyphens: Common prefixes are "pre" (before) "post" (after) "ex" (former) "bi" (two). Common suffixes are "-ito - ita" denoting small, "-ote - ota" denoting big.

Spanish diphthongs, such as au, ai, ei, eu, ia, ie, io, iu, ou, oi, ue, uo, ua, ui should never be separated by a hyphen.

M-dashes are generally used to denote conversation. If everyday English is used, these dashes are often substituted in Spanish for colons or ellipsis.

Section Five - Miscellaneous Peculiarities

Surnames are only used before first names in alphabetical lists such as attendance at school. In normal conversation, the order is first name, surname and second (mother's) surname. Only first letters in surnames are capitalized.

When referring to something false or untrue, it is common practice to use italics where English would use quotes. For example: Their "benefactor" had ripped them off / Su benefactor los había estafado.

Section Six - Geographic Distribution

Spanish is Mexico's official language, and is spoken by over 450 million people in more than 20 countries worldwide. Other languages spoken include Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional indigenous languages. Ethnic groups include mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 60%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian 30%, white 9% and other 1%. Although Mexico has 57 ethno linguistic indigenous groups, their languages are not used outside community/education/legal frameworks.

Mexico is the third largest nation in Latin America after Brazil and Argentina, measuring 1,972,550 square kilometres and with an estimated population of 104 million. Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century. The nation continues to make an impressive recovery.

Language Family
Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Romance

Sources: - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

(Accessed Thursday 8th April 2004)

Section Seven - Character Set

[ ] = Alt key codes



a á [0225]

A Á [0193]







e é [0233]

E É [0201]







i í [0237]

I Í [0205]











ñ [0241]

Ñ [0209]

o ó [0243]

O Ó [0211]











u ú [0250]

U Ú [0218]











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