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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: Spanish has masculine and feminine genders. The gender affects nouns, adjectives, demonstratives, possessives and articles, but not verbs.

2. Plurals: Generally speaking, the plural is formed by adding '-s' to words ending in a vowel and by adding '-os' or '-es' to words ending in a consonant. This is, however, governed by a set of rules.

3. One letter words: One letter words include: a, e (replaces 'y' (= and) before a word beginning with 'i'), o, u (replaces 'o' (= or) before a word beginning with an 'o'), y.

4. Double consonants: The only groups of two equal consonants are the following: cc, ll, nn, rr.

5. Umlaut/Accents: The umlaut occurs very rarely in Spanish. The circumflex and grave accents are only used with foreign words which haven't assimilated a Spanish spelling. The acute accent is very common and there are very strict rules about its use. Upper case characters do carry accents, and the same rules apply as for lower case characters.

6. Capitalisation: Occurs at the beginning of sentences and for proper names. Unlike English, days of the week/ months of the year/ languages/ nationalities/ managerial posts like director financiero, do not take a capital letter.

With regard to titles/ headings/ subheadings, etc., only the first word is capitalised. Upper case is used for polite forms of address (el Ministro de Finanzas), but not when they are used generically (los ministros de finanzas de la Unión Europea).

Section Two – Punctuation

Spanish rules are similar to English with some exceptions:

1. Question and exclamation marks: In Spanish there are opening question and exclamation marks, ¿ and ¡, which can appear right at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence. In the latter case, the following word will be in lower case.

If a closing question or exclamation mark appears in the middle of a sentence, the following word will be in lower case.

In sentences which are both questions and exclamations, it is not accepted to use both symbols together (?!).

2. Brackets: Avoid using a comma or a full stop before a bracket.

3. Colons: A colon replaces a comma at the beginning of a letter (Querida mamá: = Dear Mum,). The following word can go either in upper or lower case.

If a colon precedes a quotation, this will start with capital letter.

Three dots ... can replace the abbreviation etc. It also denotes a short pause, an omission or gives a sense of surprise, fear, etc.

4. Inverted commas: There are three types: simple (' ... '), double (" ... ") and French (« ... »). Some style manuals recommend avoiding the use of the French inverted commas. Closing inverted commas always go before the comma or full stop, regardless of the location of the opening inverted commas.

5. Short dash: The use of the short dash in sentences such as "HP printers - the best in the world" is incorrect. Please replace it with a colon or even with a full stop: "Impresoras HP. Las mejores del mundo."

6. Long dash: There often seems to be confusion in the use of the long dash in English. In Spanish, they are sometimes used to separate a remark from the rest of the sentence. They also function as brackets within brackets. They can be found, in the case of transcriptions of dialogues, at the beginning of each speaker's sentence. The following is an example of the spacing between words and long dashes: "Las impresoras HP —las mejores del mundo— son muy seguras".

The following English sentence: "I'm so tired", he said, "I just want to go home". would be punctuated in exactly the same way in Spanish:

"Estoy tan cansado", dijo, "quiero irme a casa".

7. Full stops: Do not use full stops at the end of headings, titles, etc., if they are not a complete sentence. However, captions do end in a full stop. In the case of bullet points, it depends on the type of text. For instance, if they are full sentences or paragraphs that make up a list of examples, they should have a full stop at the end.

Section Three – Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurements: Metric are the only official measurements. Imperial measurements must be converted into metric. However, there are some instances of the use of inches, such as for tool specifications, screen sizes and floppy disks.

Time: Argentina uses the 24-hour clock, i.e. 10.00 / 15.00.

Date: the format is 25/09/04 or 25-09-04 (day, month, year).

Spanish uses a decimal comma (3,7%), and a dot after 999 (16.000). None of this applies to years, which do not have dots, commas or spaces.

Currency: the abbreviation for the ‘peso’ is $.

Abbreviations of measurements:

ppp = dots per inch

Be careful to avoid the confusion between metre (m) and minute (m.).

Also, care must be taken with capitalisation. Observe the rules of the International System.

Spacing: there should be space between numbers and the measurement abbreviations, which should also be in the singular and without accents. There should also be a space between the number and temperature symbol.

2. Abbreviations:

Equivalent abbreviations to English:

N/a = n/a (no se aplica) or n/c (no corresponde)
No. = n°;
e.g. = p. ej.
W x L x H x D = probably best as ‘ancho x largo x alto x profundidad’, since ancho (width) and alto (height) both start with an ‘a.’ The problem could otherwise be solved by abbreviating the first syllable of each word:
an. x l. x al. x prof.
Mr. / Mrs. = Sr. / Sra.
Messrs. = Sres.
Miss = Srta.
Dear Sir / Madam = Estimado Señor / Señora

Other common abbreviations:

Av. = Avenue (before name)
B y N = black and white
c/ = Street (before name)
C.ª or Cía. = Company
C. P. = post code
c/u = each
EE. UU. or EE UU = USA
E/S = input/output
I+D = research and development
íd. = ditto
n/d = not available
P. D. = postscript
PYME = small or medium sized business
RR. HH. or RR HH = human resources
s. e. u. o. = errors and omissions excepted
s/n = no number
Ud. or Udes. = formal you (singular and plural)

Most abbreviations in Spanish have just one dot at the end.

Also, in the case of ordinals, there exist abbreviated versions for masculine and feminine formed with the number and the symbol °; (alt + 0186) for masculine or ª (alt + 0170) for feminine: 6°;, 6ª, 27°;, 27ª, etc. Note that °; is slightly bigger than the degree symbol ° (alt + 0176).

Section Four – Hyphenation

Hyphenation within words is more usual between nouns (café-restaurante, precio-calidad) than between adjectives (audio-visual / audiovisual, físicoquímico / fisicoquímico).

Note that when hyphenated words appear at the end of a line, the best way to split them is by separating the two words.

In words such as ‘ex-wife’, the hyphen is replaced with a blank space: ex esposa.

1. End-of-line hyphenation: With regard to end-of-line hyphenation, it is best to leave words whole in normal text and leave hyphenation for restricted text boxes, columns, etc. However, if absolutely necessary…

A single consonant between two vowels joins the second.

Hyphenation between two consonants applies. Examples: in-novador, tensión, ac-ceso.

However, there are exceptions in the case of the following groups: pr, pl, br, bl, fr, fl, tr, dr, cr, cl, gr, rr, ll, ch (e.g., ca-ble, ma-cro, i-rracional).

Between three consonants, the first two will go with the preceding vowel and the third with the following vowel (e.g. trans-por-te), except in the case of the aforementioned consonant groups, in which the first one will go with the preceding vowel and the third with the following vowel (e.g. im-presora, destruir).

2. Avoid hyphenation:

Between two vowels.
When the result will appear rude (e.g., dis -puta, tor-pedo).

It is advised that the last line in a paragraph contains more than four characters (punctuation marks included).

Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities

Not strictly a peculiarity, but to the non-Spanish eye, can look odd…

US(A) = EE.UU in translation In spoken language, Argentina accepts the less formal “vos” as the singular form of address instead of the Spanish “tú”. The verb is changed accordingly.
(Vos tenés, instead of “tu tienes”).

Section Six – Geographic Distribution

Spanish is the most widely spoken of the Romance languages, both in terms of the number of speakers and the number of countries in which it is used. As well as being spoken in Spain, it is the official language in all South American republics, except Brazil and Guyana, the six republics in Central America, as well as Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. It is also spoken in parts of Morocco and the west coast of Africa, as well as in Equatorial Guinea. In the United States it is widely spoken in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California (in New Mexico it is co-official with English), and by the large Puerto Rican population in New York City. More recently it has become common in southern Florida, used by people who have moved there from Cuba. A variety of Spanish known as Ladino is spoken in Turkey and Israel by descendants of Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. In total, there are about 350 million Spanish speakers in Argentina.

Spanish vocabulary is of Latin origin, though many of the words differ noticeably from their French and Italian counterparts. Many words beginning with ‘f’ in the other Romance languages begin with ‘h’ in Spanish (e.g. hijoson, hilo-thread). The Moorish influence is seen in words beginning with al- (algodón-cotton, alfombra-rug, almohada-pillow, alfiler-pin). As in British and American English, there are differences in vocabulary on both sides of the Continent.

Spanish is spoken/used in the following countries:
Argentina, Aruba (Dutch), Balearic Islands, Belize (British Honduras), Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Canary Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Diego Garcia (U.K. & U.S.), Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), Gibraltar (U.K.), Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Morocco, Nevis, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico (U.S.), Spain, St. Kitts (& Nevis) Independent, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Virgin Islands (U.S.).

Language Family
Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Romance

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

Section Seven – Character Set

[ ] = Alt key codes

a á [0225] A Á [0193]
b B
c C
d D
e é [0233] E É [0201]
g G
i í [0237] I Í [0205]
l L
n ñ [0241] N Ñ [0209]
o ó [0243] O Ó [0211]
p P
q Q
r R
s S
t T
u ú [0250] ü [0252] U Ú [0218] Ü [0220]
v V
w W
x X
y Y
z Z
¿ [168] ¡ [0161]

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