The Ultimate List of Common Spanish Abbreviations
There are nearly 400 fully recognized Spanish abbreviations — and thousands of accepted ones. You can even invent your own if you follow the rules.
Read this article to learn all about Spanish abbreviations. Access multiple Spanish abbreviation lists that are useful even for beginners.
Why Use Abbreviations?
Abbreviations are shortened forms of words that help us to communicate faster.
People started using abbreviations long ago, even if using Spanish abbreviations for texting is a relatively new phenomenon. Romans, as early as in the 6th century, started using so many abbreviations that it led to many communication errors. The vast empire depended on effective communication. To save stability, Emperor Justinian had to enforce some rules and regulations.
People always try to communicate more economically, but the struggle for comprehensibility is real, and you must follow the rules.
La Real Academia Española (The Royal Spanish Academy) in charge of regulating the Spanish language gives clear rules about possible formation, spelling, punctuation, and use.
Types of Spanish Abbreviations
The Spanish language distinguishes four types of officially accepted abbreviations:
- Abbreviations – Dr. for doctor
- Symbols – m for metro (meter)
- Initialisms (Siglas) – DNI – documento nacional de identidad (identity card)
- Acronyms – ONU – Organización de Naciones Unidas (United Nations/UN)
Let me show you each of them in detail:
Proper abbreviations are sets of letters that together represent a word. They use either the initial part of the original word —edit. – editorial (publisher)–or a mixture of the initial and the final part –Avda. – Avenida (Avenue).
They always have a period at the end or a slash (‘/’), with some exceptions.
For example: C/ – calle (street); Dr. – doctor.
Other common examples:
- a. C. (antes de Cristo) – B.C. (before Christ)
- EE.UU (Estados Unidos) – U.S.A. (United States of America)
- Adv. (adverbio) – ADV (Adverb)
Symbols are abbreviations of words of scientific or technical origin. They have the same form internationally. They are written in lowercase.
- m (metro) – meter
- d (dia) – day
- kg (kilogramo) – kilogram
Acronyms are also shortened forms of words and formed by initials. They may be pronounced by syllable or as complete words. You should write them in capital letters. Grammatically, they are nouns, although they may be composed of different types of words.
- ADENA (Asociación para la defensa de la naturaleza) – Association for the defense of nature
- RAE (Real Academia Española) – Royal SPanish Academy
- RENFE (Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles) – Spanish National Railway Network
Initialisms are called siglas in Spanish. They’re Spanish abbreviations of words also formed by the first letter of the words they represent.
They work as nouns, too, and usually follow the grammar rules that apply to nouns. They do not end in a period.
People tend to use siglas as acronyms, although La RAE does not accept it. Unlike acronyms, you shouldn’t pronounce siglas as complete words, but letter by letter, but do not be surprised to hear people disrespect this rule.
You should also write them in capital letters.
- DNI (documento nacional de identidad) – ID
- ONG (organización no gubernamental) – NGO (non-governmental organization)
- AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) – Spanish High Speed (trains)
The Ultimate List of Common Spanish Abbreviations
Let’s have a look at the most common abbreviations that you need to be able to understand and use.
Spanish Abbreviations for International Organizations
Here is a list of Spanish abbreviations for International Organizations. Usually, the letters used in the English and Spanish abbreviations are the same, just the order changes. Some of them look the same as their English translations. In Spanish, they are linguistic borrowings.
|ONUOrganización de las Naciones Unidas
|UNESCOOrganización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura
|UNESCOUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
|UNICEFFondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia
|UNICEFUnited Nations Children’s Fund
|OTANOrganización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte
|NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
|OMSOrganización Mundial de la Salud
|WHOWorld Health Organization
|FMIFondo Monetario Internacional
|IMFInternational Monetary Fund
|BCEBanco Central Europeo
|ECBEuropean Central Bank
|UEFAUnión de Asociaciones Europeas de Fútbol
|UEFAUnion of European Football Associations
|FIFAFederación Internacional de Fútbol Asociación
|FIFAInternational Federation of Association Football
Spanish Abbreviations for Academic and Job Titles
These are useful and common abbreviations. I divided them into two categories: titles and professions.
Spanish Abbreviations for Titles
Use the following Spanish abbreviations when writing an email or applying for a job. Remember, although you do not capitalize Spanish titles, you do when they come as abbreviations. Most titles have masculine and feminine forms but not all of them.
Spanish Abbreviations for Professions
Spanish also has many abbreviations to talk about time. On a printed calendar, you’ll rarely see full names of months or weekdays.
Spanish Abbreviations for Months
Apart from enero (January), marzo (March), mayo (May), and agosto (August), all the other months have their abbreviations.
Spanish Abbreviations for Days of the Week
Spanish abbreviations for days of the week are easy to learn, and you have two options to choose from: single-letter and two-letter abbreviations. They are intuitive for most of the days, but watch out for Wednesdays.
The two-letter abbreviations:
Other Time Abbreviations
Here are other useful Spanish abbreviations to use when writing about time:
Spanish Abbreviations for Map Locations
You also need abbreviations to read a map or to read and write somebody’s address.
Spanish Abbreviations for Cardinal Directions
Spanish Abbreviations for Addresses
Here are some abbreviations you may see written on an envelope, a package, or Google maps:
|av., avd., avda., (av.ª)avenida
|c., c/, cl.calle
|gta., g. taglorieta
|Roundabout, traffic circle
|p.za, pza., pl., plzaplaza
Spanish Abbreviations for Measurements
Most measurement abbreviations are international symbols. So, abbreviations for cooking measurements are the ones that you already know in your language!
Spanish Abbreviations for Length
Spanish Abbreviations for Mass
Spanish Abbreviations for Capacity
Spanish Abbreviations for Area
Spanish Abbreviations for Volume
Practice Speaking Spanish
Of course, reading long lists of abbreviations alone won’t get you very far. It’s key to practice your speaking skills, too. Remember that while you’re working on becoming bilingual, you’re also improving your cognition and decision-making abilities! Sign up for a free trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy to improve your Spanish skills in all four key areas: speaking, listening, writing, and reading. Increase your comprehension by practicing abbreviations with a friendly, certified Spanish instructor from Guatemala.
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