The origins of…

letraHave you ever wondered why there are so many words starting with “al“ in Spanish? Don’t you think it’s funny when you pronounce the word “ojalá”? Do you wish to have a “ñ letter key” in your keyboard, when you are taking a Spanish lesson via Skype? I’m sure our students on do.

Today we’ll learn more about the origins of these contents:

One of the most common ways of expressing desires and wishes in Spanish is the word ojalá (Ojalá aprenda español pronto / I hope I learn Spanish soon). Doesn’t it sound like Arabic to you? Ojalá comes from the Arabic expressionin sha’a Allah” that means “If God wants”.

Alfombra, (carpet), alcalde (mayor), aldea (village), alfiler (pin)… What do these words have in common? Of course, all of them start with “al“. That prefix shares ojala’s origin: Arabic. Al just means “the”, so Alfombra means “the carpet” and alcalde means “the mayor”. These ancient words kept the article joined to the noun when they were introduced into Spanish.

Finally, we’ll see the origin of a letter that has become a Spain’s symbol: letter ñ. This letter was born in the medieval monasteries, as Spanish itself. When Christian monks had to write “double n words”, they used to save space writing a line above the letter “n”. So, if they had to copy annus (year in Latin), they used to write añus (año in modern Spanish).

As you can see, it’s good to know the past to understand the present. Ojalá podamos enseñarte estos temas con alborozo en (We hope to teach you these subjects with joy on

By | 2017-02-15T22:32:13+00:00 octubre 24th, 2013|Spanish Language, Words made in Spain|1 comentario

About the Author:

I was born in Badajoz (Extremadura) and I currently live in Bilbao (Basque Country). I studied a Bachelor degree in Spanish Language and Literature and an International House degree as a qualified teacher of Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. I think languages are the key that opens the doors to new cultures and I love teaching mine.

Un comentario

  1. David 30 octubre, 2013 en 2:21 pm - Responder

    GREAT post!! I knew the origin of “ojalá”, but I had no idea about the “ene” letter. Sorry, my keyboard doesn’t have this letter 🙂
    Very interesting!
    I love Spanish language and Spanish people! (I lived in Granada for almost a year. I loved it!).
    All the best,

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