Rae orthography rules Spanish LanguageMany of our students on Spanishviaskype are now at an advanced level. They are very curious and try to have a full-inmersion in Spanish. We often recommend them reading Spanish novels or newspapers and watching TV series or movies. When they do their readings, they sometimes get surprise because of orthography.

The fact is texts before 2010 are written, following the orthographic rules that la Real Academia Española (RAE) suggests. In 2010, this institution prepared a reform that has affected spelling, accentuation and adaptation of foreign words, among others.

Today, we’ll bring here some examples that cause confusion among our students.

1. ¿“Tildes” a discreción?

Not really at your discretion. You might have seen some words like “sólo”, “éste, ésa, aquéllos…”, or ó” with the acute accent on them. If you pay attention, in the modern texts, they are free of their “tilde”. What happened? This kind of accent is called diacritical and it’s used to difference words with the same spelling.

  • Solo can be an adverb (solo quiero una cerveza) or an adjective (estoy solo en casa). It used to have an accent when it was the first use, but not now.
  • Este, ese, aquel and their feminine and plural variations, can be adjectives (este coche es rápido) or pronouns (este es rápido). In this last use, they were accented, but not now.
  • The conjunction o (or) had an accent when it was between numbers, in order not to mix it up with the number 0 (¿quieres 1 o 2 entradas para la película?). Now, RAE suggests not to use tilde on it.

2. Juntos pero no revueltos

Together but not in each other’s pocket can be a good translation for the previous subtittle. Prefixes are always a matter of discussion. How should we write them? In a single word or separated. According to the new orthography:

  • You should write them joined to the base word if this is a single word, not separated and with no hyphens: expresidente, antifascista, superbonito…
  • We need to use hyphens when the base word is a proper name, an acronym, or the prefix is followed by a number: post-Franco, mini-USB, sub-18…
  • If we have multiple base words we must write the prefix separated: ex presidente del gobierno, anti Nicolás Maduro, pre Revolución Industrial… 

3. No todo es tan capital

Not everything is so capital or important. Las mayúsculas (capital letters) are also a nightmare, not only for foreign students but for native speakers, too. The reform by RAE reduced the number of uses of this letters.

  • Positions, no matter how important they are, are written with lower case letters, even if the proper name is after it: el rey Felipe, el presidente de España, el papa Francisco. However, for respect reasons, RAE say you can write with capital letters, although they recommend not to use them.
  • Names of awards are written in capital when they refer to the category and all the main words: el Óscar a la mejor película es para…, mañana van a entregar el Premio Cervantes. However, if the name refers to the object given to the winner or the person itself, it’s not used in capital letters: este escritor es el premio nobel de literatura…, Penélope Cruz le ofreció su óscar a Pedro Almodóvar.
  • The names of the cardinal points must be in lower case letters, unless they form a proper name: nos dirigimos al norte de América del Norte.

4. ¿Qué pasa con la “Q”?

The letter “q” will be adapted in those foreign words which don’t have the combination “que” or “qui”: Irak instead of Iraq, Catar instead of Qatar, cuark instead of quark. However, you can use them with their original spelling if you write them in italics and with no tildes.

In conclusión, RAE did a huge revision of their rules for Spanish orthography and students on Spanishviaskype are up to date of these changes. If you want to have teachers who master this rules, don’t hesitate and try a free trial lesson here: study Spanish via Skype and in this way, if you make any mistake spelling or typing, you can put the blame on your cellular’s autocorrect and not on yourself.