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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: Chilean has 2 genders: masculine and feminine. They are generally recognized by the article that precedes them or by the ending of adjectives and/or demonstrative or possessive pronouns, which must be the same gender as the noun.

2. Articles: The definite articles are “El” (masculine, singular) “La’ (feminine, singular) “Los” (masculine, plural) and “Las” (feminine, plural). The indefinite articles are "un" (masculine, singular), “una” (feminine, singular), "unos” (masculine, plural) and “unas” (feminine, plural).

3. Plurals: The plural form can be recognised by the endings “s” or “es”.

4. Accents: Although accents do appear on upper case characters, they also appear without accents, especially in advertising and the media.

5. Capitalisation: Capitalisation occurs at the beginning of sentences and with 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’). Although it is not a rule, formal forms of address tend to be in-capped, for example: Pdte., Dr., Profesor.

Section Two – Punctuation

The main difference between English and Chilean Spanish is the use of opening question and exclamation marks (¡ and ¿).

1. Full stops: Generally, full stops are used at the end of full sentences and abbreviations. They should not be used at the end of headings, titles, etc., made up of only one phrase/sentence. However, captions 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.

2. Speech marks: The following sentences show how speech marks are used in Chilean.

1. “Give me more work!”, shouted Chloe. "¡Dénme más trabajo!", gritó Chloe.
2. “Would anyone like some tea?” asked George. "¿Alguien quiere un poco más de té?", dijo George.
3. “I’m bored – can I go home now?”, Michala said. "Estoy aburrida. ¿Puedo irme a la casa?", dijo Michala.

3. Apostrophes: These are not used in Chilean Spanish.

4. Colons: Colons are used before enumerations, for example: (Ayer me compré dos libros: uno de Carlos Fuentes y otro de Cortázar = Yesterday I bought two books: one by Carlos Fuentes and the other by Cortázar.) A colon replaces a comma at the beginning of a letter, for example: (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 a capital letter.

5. Ellipsis: The three dots ... can replace the abbreviation etc. It also denotes a short pause, an omission or gives a sense of surprise, fear, etc.

6. Brackets: Avoid using a comma or a full stop before a bracket. No spaces are used between the opening/closing bracket and the word that follows/precedes them or between the closing bracket and a punctuation sign after it. Text within brackets should follow the same capitalization rules as any other text.

Section Three – Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurements: Metric is the only official measurement. Imperial measurements must be converted into metric. However, there are some instances where inches may be used, such as in screen sizes and floppy disks.

Commas are used to separate decimals (3,5), and a full stop is used to separate thousands (45.000).

Time: 10:30 am / 12:00 pm / 4:30 pm / 24:00 or 12:00 pm. Chile uses the 24-hour clock or the AM/PM time format: 16.30 can be 16:30 or 4:30 pm

Dates are written as follows:

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

The preferred date format is 20/02/04 or 20/02/2004.

There should always be a space between a figure and a measuremen abbreviation.
There should not be a space before a % symbol.

There should only be a space left before °C if the unit of measurement appears next to the number, (i.e. 12 °C versus 12°).

Currency is written as follows: $230.000 (230.000 pesos). The international CHP or CH$ code is rarely used, except in very specific contexts (for example, in bureau de change offices).

2. Abbreviations:

Equivalent abbreviations:

N/a = n./c
No. (nos.) = N°
e.g. = p.ej.
WxLxHxD = ancho x largo x alto x fondo
1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th = 1ro/a, 2do/da, 3ro/ra, 4to/ta
Mr. / Mrs. = Sr. / Sra.
Messrs. = Sres.
Miss = Srta.
Dear Sir / Madam = Estimado señor / Estimada señor
m (for metre) = m
cm (for centimetre) = cm
lb (for pound weight) = lb (pounds are not used in Chile as a measurement;
kilo (k or kg) is preferred.)
g (for gram) = g
km (for kilometre) = km
yr (for year) = año (not abbreviated)
k (for 1000) = There is no abbreviation for 1000
EMEA (Europe, Middle-East & Asia) = There is no abbreviation for this term.

Days of the week: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun = Lu, Ma, Mi, Ju, Vi, Sa, Do

Months: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec = ene., feb., mar., abr., may., jun., jul., ago., sep., oct., nov., dic. Months with few letters, e.g. “April” and “May” are not normally abbreviated. The entire word is preferred in this case.

Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter are not normally abbreviated in Chilean Spanish.

Other abbreviations:
EE.UU. for Estados Unidos (United States)
Am.Lat. or A.L. for América Latina (Latin America)
R.M. for Región Metropolitana (Political/Administrative area where Santiago,
capital of the country, is located).
Stgo. for Santiago
Valpo. for Valparaíso (Main port of Chile)
Bs. As. for Buenos Aires (capital of Argentina, neighboring country)
FF.AA. for Fuerzas Armadas (the military)
FACH for Fuerza Aérea de Chile (Air Force)
RR.EE. for Relaciones Exteriores (Foreign Office)
IVA for Impuesto al Valor Agregado (VAT)
Av. or Avda. = Avenue (before name)
Cía. = Company
c/u = each
pqte.= paquete
PYME = small or medium sized business
RR. HH. or RR HH = human resources
s/n = no number
Ud. or Uds. = formal you (singular and plural)

Section Four – Hyphenation

Hyphenation within words is more common 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.

End-of-line hyphenation:

With regard to end-of-line hyphenation, it is best to leave words in normal text unhyphenated, and use hyphens in restricted text boxes, columns, etc.

However, if absolutely necessary…

1. A single consonant between two vowels joins the second.

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

3. 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).

4. When there are three consonants, the first two will be joined to the preceding vowel and the third to the following vowel (e.g., trans-por-te). However, in the case of the aforementioned consonant groups, the first one will be linked to the preceding vowel and the third to the following vowel (e.g., im-presora, des-truir).

5. Hyphenation between two vowels should be avoided.

6. Hyphenation should be avoided when the using it will result in vulgar Spanish (e.g., dis-puta, tor-pedo).

7. It is advisable for the last line in a paragraph to contain more than four characters (punctuation marks included).

Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities

Surnames normally precede the first name and are never written entirely in majuscules.

Bold and italics are generally used to emphasize an element within a sentence or paragraph.

Section Six – Geographic Distribution

Spanish (or "castellano") is the official language of Chile and is spoken by the majority of the population. There are also several native American languages, spoken by ethnic minorities in certain areas of the country: mainly Mapuche (spoken by the Mapuches or Araucanos in some areas of Southern Chile) and Aymara (spoken by the Aymaras in areas of the North bordering Bolivia and Peru). As in most of Latin America, one difference between Chilean Spanish and the language spoken in Spain is the general use of the pronoun “Ustedes” (and its corresponding verbal forms) in the 2nd person plural both for the formal and informal “You”. The pronoun “Vosotros” and its verbal forms are not used in Chile.

Chilean “voseo” (see below) is very common among young people and in informal/familiar situations, but is mainly used when speaking. However, its use in the written language is far less common than the use of the Argentinean "voseo” in Argentina. It should be avoided or used very carefully, unless specifically aimed towards youngsters (for example, in advertising) in an informal/humoristic fashion.

Some particular features of Chilean Spanish:

Source: Chilean Spanish Guide.

In Chile there is a variation of the second person familiar form, that is similar to the “voseo” of other Latin American countries (such as Argentina). It is often used by younger people when speaking to a friend, and is a type of "street slang". A form of it is also used by people from rural areas or a lower socio-economic status. It is very common to use this form when joking or to show insolence. The Chilean form of “voseo” is almost the same as the familiar form or “el tutear”. The main differences between this form and the regular familiar form are in the present indicative and imperative tenses, which are conjugated in the same way. To conjugate AR, IR, and irregular ER verbs in the vosotros form the "s" is simply dropped. Regular ER verbs, are conjugated in the vosotros form as if they were an IR verb.

For example:

estáis ¡Estay loco!
venís Vení pa ca.
sois Tú soy...

¿Adónde vay?

querís* ¿Qué querí?
tenís* ¿Qué tení?

Chileans often aspirate the "s" sound.

For example:

más o
muchas mucha
gracias gracia

es lo

e lo mimo

The "d" sound is often aspirated in past participles and words that end in "do" or "da".

For example:

cara de

care palo
comida comía





que ver

na que ver





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]
f F
g G
h H
i I
j J
k K
l L
m M
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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