Contractions are used to make language as simple as possible, whether it‘s written or spoken is irrelevant, contractions make both much, much easier.

The word “contraction”, when not defined as a language term means “the process of becoming smaller”. Therefore, when placing contractions in a language context, like adding an apostrophe in English, it makes the words smaller and the language much simpler.

However, English is not like Spanish in this nature. In Spanish, there are no apostrophes in contractions. Instead, you are going to be combining words so you‘re turning two words into one.

Let‘s take a look how:

Rules of Contraction

In a language, there can be a lot of contractions. In English, for example, there are you‘re, I‘m, she‘ll, etc. In Spanish, however, there are only two contractions that you have to worry about, using the two words “a” and “de”.

When you have the prepositions “a” and “de” (“a” meaning “to” and “de” meaning “from or of”), and you have to say or write them before a masculine noun which comes with the article “el” in front, then they combine to make a contraction.

aTo, at, from, upon, by, on, for
deBy, at, of, about, on, because of
a + elal
de + elel

Now, let‘s break down the two, because like with every rule, there are always exceptions.

Let‘s begin with “a”. The rules are generally pretty simple to follow. In a sentence, when you want to say or write “a” before the word “el”, you should contract them to the word “al”.

Let‘s look at some examples:

Voy al hotel. (Voy a el hotel.)I‘m going to the hotel.
Fuiste al restaurante. (Fuiste a el restaurant.)You went to the restaurant.
Fui al parque. (Fui a el parque.)I went to the park.
La mujer llama al doctor. (La mujer llama a el doctor.)The woman calls the doctor.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. When we‘re talking about this rule, you should not join the “a” and the “el” together when the noun that is going to come after the “a” must keep the “El” separate. Usually, this is because the “El” is capitalized because it is a name or pronoun (a person, place or name of a book or movie, for example).

Here are a few examples:

Ellos van a El Salvador.They‘re going to El Salvador.
Él es de El Paso, Texas.He is from El Paso, Texas.
La historia de El Chapo.The history of El Chapo.

When you are contracting the “a”, make sure that the noun is masculine. You‘ll never see a contraction with “la, las, and los”.

While we‘re on the subject of “a+el=al”, you should remember that “el” and “él” are two totally different things. “Él” with the accent means “he, him or it” in English, while “el” means “the” in English. Therefore, when there is an accent on the “e” (“é”) you are not to contract it because it simply wouldn‘t make sense. So when you are talking about a male or a masculine noun, do not contract it.

Here are a few examples:

A él no le gusta bailar.He does not like to dance.
A él le fascina viajar.He loves to travel. (He finds traveling fascinating.)
Yo lo observo a él.I observe him.

We understand that it can be a bit confusing as to when you should be using “al”, so here are a few rules that can help you out.

You should use “al” when:

Here are a few examples:

You are describing a motion towards a specific place. Just like the English word, “to”, you can use “al” when the target area is a masculine noun, for example, “el teatro” or “the theater” in English or “el parque” or “the park”.

For example:


You are describing a location like the word “at” in English you can use “al”.

Just like this:

Te veo al frente de la cola.I see you at the front of the line.
¿Estás al final del pasillo?Are you at the end of the hallway?

You are introducing an indirect object by using verbs that require the “a” directly after them. The Spanish word for “help”, for example, is “ayudar” and when you use this word in a sentence, you will have the “a” after it.

Here are a few examples:

Ayudo al padre de Maria.I help Maria‘s father.
¿Ya llamaste al novio deCaroline?Did you already call Caroline‘s boyfriend?

One of the last instances where you will use “a” in your sentence is if you are talking about a person as the direct or indirect object.

Here are a few examples:

Hablé con a Adriana ayer.I talked with Adriana yesterday.
¿Viste lo que le pasó con a Carlos?Did you see what happened to Carlos?

Moving on to “del”. This is the contraction you use when you have the words the preposition “de” and the article “el” together in one sentence. Combining the two of them make for a quicker and easier flowing sentence.

For instance, you would combine them like this:

¿Cual coche es el del maestro? (¿Cual coche es el de el maestro?Which is the teacher‘s car?
Soy del lado oeste. (Soy de el lado oeste.)I‘m from the west side.
El hueso del perro es blanco. (El hueso de el perro es blanco)The dog‘s bone is white.
El agua del río está sucio. (El agua de el río está sucio.)The water from the river is dirty.

As we mentioned before, it‘s extremely important that you don‘t confuse “el” as in the article for a masculine name (the English word “the”) with the Spanish word “él”, which is “he, him or it”, and should not be read, written or spoken as a contraction.