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Apostrophe in Spanish

Apostrophes are used very rarely in Spanish. It is used in written Spanish to indicate the omission of letters when we pronounce these words in a colloquial register. The most common examples are:

para = pa'

Without the apostrophe:

¿Para qué lo quieres?
What do you want it for?

With the apostrophe:

¿Pa'qué lo quieres? 

Without the apostrophe:

Te lo doy para que me dejes en paz.
I will give it to you so you leave me alone.

With the apostrophe:

Te lo doy pa'que me dejes en paz.

Notice how in the examples above, the two words around the apostrophe become one word, in a similar way to how the two words did not become one word didn't in English when it uses the apostrophe.

With some prepositions, articles and conjunctions in old texts

In old Spanish texts there are some apostrophes, for example:

d'aquel = de aquel

l'aspereza = la aspereza

qu'es = que es

Borrowed words

If we are using a word that is from another language and it contains an apostrophe in its original language, we must keep the apostrophe when using these words. For example:


L'Hospitalet de Llobregat

Incorrect uses of the apostrophe

In Spanish we cannot use the apostrophe sign in the following cases:

  • We cannot use [apostrophe + s] at the end of a pluralised acronym, for example:

Las ONG's
NGOs (incorrect)

NGOs (correct)

  • We cannot use the apostrophe in front of the abbreviation of a year, for example:

En diciembre del '89
In December 1989 (incorrect)

En diciembre del 89
In December 1989 (correct)

  • We cannot use the apostrophe as the separator for hours and minutes, for example:

A las 15'30  (incorrect)

A las 15:30 / A las 15.30  (correct)

  • We cannot use the apostrophe as a decimal separator, for example:

Son 24'50 euros
That's 24 euros 50

Son 24,50 euros
That's 24 euros 50