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How to Use Hyphens in Spanish?

How to Use Hyphens in Spanish

Welcome to our blog post on “How to Use Hyphens in Spanish?” If you’re a beginning Spanish student, especially if English is your first language, you might have noticed a tendency to overuse hyphens.

In Spanish, hyphens, known as “guiones,” are used far less frequently compared to English. While they find some use in more formal or journalistic writing, they are rarely used in everyday spoken language.

Join us as we explore the proper and sparing use of hyphens in Spanish, helping you avoid common pitfalls and enhancing your writing skills in this beautiful language!

Check also: How to Use a Semicolon in Spanish?

Main Points: Hyphens in Spanish

When to Use Hyphens in Spanish

In Spanish, hyphens are mainly used to combine two adjectives or nouns of equal importance, forming a compound word. For example:

In such compound adjectives, the second adjective agrees with the noun in number and gender, while the first adjective usually remains in the singular masculine form.

An exception occurs when the first part of the compound uses a shortened form of a word, acting like a prefix, and no hyphen is used, as in “sociopolítico” (socio-political), where “socio” is a shortened form of “sociológico.”

Hyphens can also be used in Spanish to join two dates, similar to English, like “la guerra de 1808-1814” (the war of 1808-1814).

Check also: How to Responses to “How Are You Today” in Spanish?

When Hyphens Are Not Used in Spanish

  1. Numbers: In Spanish, numbers like “veintiuno” (twenty-one) and “veintiocho” (twenty-eight) are written as one word without hyphens.
  2. Words with prefixes: Spanish words like “antifascista” (anti-fascist), “antisemitismo” (anti-Semitism), “precocinar” (pre-cook), and “cuasilegal” (quasi-legal) don’t use hyphens as they do in English.
  3. Compound words with different status: In Spanish, words like “hispanohablante” (Spanish-speaking), “bienintencionado” (well-meaning), and “amor propio” (self-respect) are written together without hyphens.

Additionally, in English, it’s common to hyphenate two words to form a compound modifier before a noun. However, in Spanish, such words are often translated as a phrase or single word, or they are not translated word for word.


Check also: Essential Tips: Navigating Diacritical Marks in Spanish


In conclusion, mastering the proper use of hyphens in Spanish allows for clearer and more accurate communication, avoiding common mistakes made by English-speaking learners. By understanding when to use hyphens to form compound words and respecting the differences from English, you can enhance your writing skills and embrace the subtleties of the Spanish language. Happy learning!

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