The basics to write correctly in Spanish
Whether you are starting from a beginning level of Spanish, an intermediate level, or an advanced level, whether you are learning Spanish as a child or an adult, you need to learn some basics to correctly write in Spanish.
You can’t write if you don’t know the orthography of the language. Luckily, Spanish has very regular spelling rules. Once you learn each letter’s sound, spelling out a Spanish word by sounding it out is very simple. That said, if you are unsure how to spell a word, you can always ask: ¿Cómo se escribe? (How is it written?) or ¿Cómo se deletrea? (How is it spelled?). There are some common mistakes you have to pay attention to:
- Y or LL?
The letter “y” and the double-l (“ll”) usually have the same pronunciation. One common error is mixing them up. The context is, in many cases, key to figuring out which sound to use.
- C, Z or S?
In European Spanish, the letter S sounds like it does in English, but the C resembles the “th” sound in English”. The problem is that the Z in Spain makes that same “th” sound. So, beware.
In order to write correctly, you need to perfectly know both your grammar and Spanish grammar. If you know what a subject, a verb, an adverb and a complement are, you are halfway.
Capitalization rules change from one language to the other. In Spanish you don’t capitalize as much as you do in English. For example the languages are not capitalized (e.g. español, inglés, italiano, francés, etc). You still have to capitalize proper nouns, country names, etc (e.g. Francisco, Ana, …, España, Estados Unidos, Inglaterra, etc).
In English there are no accents. So, it can be very difficult for native English speakers to get used to Spanish accents. There is only one accent “´” called acute accent, which goes on many words and it is written (or not) according to some syllabic rules. You’ll need to learn these rules in order to avoid mistakes.
An underrated part of the written language is punctuation. Every language has its own rules and peculiarities. So, if you want to write like a native, you should also beware of that. In the following sections we’ll go into detail.
How to write an email in Spanish
Writing an email is not that easy. In Spanish, as in all the other languages, there are some politeness rules (as well as grammar and punctuation ones) that need to be respected.
To start an email you’ll need to write: “Hola, X:” Yes, there’s a comma after “Hola” (or Buenas, or other greeting), then you need to say the name of the person followed by a colon.
Then there’s the body of the email, where you can write the message you want to communicate (beware of grammar, spelling and accents!). Depending on the email, you’ll have to be more formal or informal. If you want to know more about levels of formality in Spanish, you can easily find articles on the web. In general, “tú” is for an informal email, while “usted” is used in formal contexts.
At the end of the email you’ll write the final greetings, like: “Un saludo”, “Muchas gracias y ¡qué tengas un buen día!”, “Hasta pronto”, and so on. Again, choose the greeting according to the level of formality of your email. Don’t forget to sign your email!
How to write an essay in Spanish
Writing an essay in Spanish is not that hard. After all, it’s like writing an essay in English, with the difficulty that it’s not your native language so you’ll have to pay attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation. Here are some tips for you to write a great essay in Spanish:
- Draft an outline first. Before starting your essay, try to write down the major points: who are you talking to? What’s the level of formality? What’s the purpose of the essay? And so on.
- Choose your words. Write down some key-words and use them in your essay. Look for synonyms so that you don’t repeat yourself.
- Start with the introduction. Write a clear introduction, where you explain what you are going to talk about and why.
- The body. The body is the longest part of the essay. Here you explain your ideas, giving explanations and reviews about the topic you are discussing. The tone of voice will depend on the recipient, the purpose and the formality.
- Finally, the conclusion. Write a conclusion that summarizes what you said in the body and try to persuade the reader.
Pay attention to spelling and punctuation and beware of calques (don’t copy grammar of your mother tongue but use original and native Spanish grammar structures!)
How to write an informal and formal letter in Spanish
Just like emails, letters can be either formal or informal. Depending on the formality level, you’ll have to choose the appropriate greetings and register. Let’s start with the structure of the letter, which never changes.
- Opening greetings. The very first part of the letter where you greet your recipient.
- The body. Just like the email, the letter has a central part called “body”, where you tell why you are writing this letter.
- Final greetings
Here you close your letter by saying goodbye and thanking for the attention. Let’s see the greetings according to the registers.
Formal letter: Estimado señor o señora: (Dear Sir or Madam, )
Informal letter; Hola, X: (Hi, / Hi there,)
How to introduce the body
Formal: Lo/la estoy contactando sobre… (I am reaching out regarding…)
Informal: Te escribo porque… (I’m writing to you because…)
How to close the body
Formal: Quedo a la espera de recibir noticias suyas tan pronto le sea posible. (I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.)
Informal: Espero tu respuesta (I’ll be waiting for your reply)
Formal: Saludos cordiales (Kind regards)
Informal: Un saludo (Cheers)
As in the email, remember to use “tú” in an informal letter (when talking to people you know, like your friends or family) and “usted” in a formal letter (when talking to someone you don’t know, or someone to whom you wish to show respect and formality).
How to improve your writing skills in Spanish
Having strong writing skills is essential not only to guarantee you good written communication, but also to improve your spoken language. Although it is not easy to estimate how long it takes to learn Spanish and how hard it is to learn this language, by following these tips you will definitely improve your Spanish skills, especially the written ones.
Start using short sentences
Like anything else, language-learning is a long path that requires patience and self-love. Trying to build complex, long sentences in the beginning, will just confuse and demotivate you. Start with short, simple sentences and when you feel confident with them, try to make them a bit longer and more complex.
If you have any doubt, don’t be ashamed: even native speakers sometimes have doubts! Checking the correct structure will help you memorize it and the next time you will for sure remember it and use it correctly straight away! In addition to using the Internet to make checks, you should know that there are plenty of good online resources for learning Spanish and improve it.
Read in Spanish
Reading is a great way to improve. You will come across new grammar structures and expressions and you will be able to write them down, study them and then try to use them when writing.
Double-checking is very important: grammar, punctuation, spelling, connectors, words and verbs… You need to verify everything, not only in the beginning (and not only when writing in Spanish!)
Set Your Keyboard in Spanish
To ease the writing process, try to set your keyboard in Spanish: this way you’ll easily find all the accents you need, you won’t go crazy trying to type the “ñ” and you feel like a real native!
Use a couple of “creative” tips
Find a penfriend and ask him for corrections. We all know that moving to a Spanish-speaking country is the best way to learn the language, but if for any reason you can’t do it, ask a native speaker for help. Find a penfriend on a platform like Conversation exchange and start writing emails to him or her. You will correct each other’s mistakes, learn new expressions and grammar structures and eventually become good friends!
Start Writing a Journal. You can also consider writing a journal: this way you will write in Spanish everyday, keep track of your progress and learn new words every day!
How to practice online with Global General
A great way of learning Spanish is Global General. Not only will you improve your writing skills, but you will also be able to work on listening, reading and speaking competencies! Global General is dedicated to learners at a beginner or intermediate level, and offers 5 languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian and German. Every language is developed according to the CEFR standards. This new product by GlobalExam allows students to learn 100% online, in a dynamic and effective way. What do we offer to our students?
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