23 abbreviations in Spanish that native speakers say all the time (free audio)


Estoy depre porque se me dañó la bici camino al súper y porque aunque pedí que, porfis, me dieran una tele para mi cumple, al final me dieron un boli y ni siquiera vamos a la disco este fin. (I’m depressed because my bike got damaged on the way to the supermarket, and because even though I asked for a TV for my birthday, they gave me a pen, and we’re not even going to the disco this weekend.)

¿Entendiste lo que acabo de decir? (Did you understand what I just said?) 

You won’t find this in a textbook, but native Spanish speakers use palabras acortadas (abbreviations in Spanish) like this all the time. In this video, you will learn the 23 most important palabras acortadas (abbreviations), so you can sound like a true Spanish native speaker. 

I’m Spring Spanish teacher Maura, and here is your first Spanish abbreviation: 

1. Abbreviations in Spanish #1: Depre (Depressed)

So, the first thing I need to make clear is that these are colloquial, spoken Spanish words. They are not meant to show up in an essay.

Also, for this type of abbreviations, there are no rules to follow except for, maybe, that we normally only ditch the last part of the word and that these are under social approval. 

Meaning, we don’t just come up with them, and we all use them in the exact same way.

For example:

¿Qué te pasa? ¿Pasó algo?
(What is it? Did something happen?)

No. Solo que dormí mal y ya sabes que eso me pone depre. 
(No. It’s just that I slept horrible, and you know that depresses me.

Ahhh, me asustaste. Pensé que te estaba dando algo.
(Ahhh, you scared me. I thought something bad was happening.

No te preocupes. No es nada. ¡Qué dramática!
(Don’t worry. It’s nothing. So dramatic!)


Te estaba dando algo (Something bad was happening) is a great example of a chunk in Spanish, and an even better example of how translating word for word can have disastrous consequences. 

The literal translation would be “you were given something” or “something was being given to you”. Like, what is that? It actually means “something was happening to you”, specifically something bad. Native speakers use this instead of saying te estaba pasando algo malo (something bad was happening to you) most regularly, so you can be sure that it’s correct. 

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2. Abbreviations in Spanish #2: Progre, hetero, bi, trans, poli (Progressive, heterosexual, bisexual, transsexual, polyamorous)

Ok, let’s get political for a second. All of these shortened words have the particularity of specifying human characteristics that are trending in the political sphere right now and have been for a while. Thankfully. 

Not knowing what these mean will, frankly, make you look outdated and even a bit close minded.

So, keep up in order to be able to fully understand arguments like this one: 

Espera, espera, espera. La gente hetero puede ser perfectamente progre sin tener que ser poli y, por supuesto, eso no es lo mismo que ser bi, ni mucho menos que ser trans. Son cosas completamente distintas. ¡Hay que informarse! 

(Wait, wait, wait. Heterosexual people can be perfectly progressive without having to be polyamorous and, of course, that is not the same as being bisexual, nor transsexual. These are completely different things. One should stay informed!)

These types of words require practice, and if that’s something you’d like to do to improve your Spanish, why don’t you become a member of our Inner Circle? (In there, you can chat with other students, Spanish teachers, and come to the speaking rooms that we regularly organize to help you speak Spanish.) Check the link in the description to try out the membership!

3. Abbreviations in Spanish #3: Objetos (Objects)

These everyday objects are usually, I dare say, always abbreviated. 

  • bici en lugar de bicicleta (bici instead of bicycle)
  • moto en lugar de motocicleta (moto instead of motorcycle)
  • boli en lugar de bolígrafo (boli instead of pen)
  • compu en lugar de computadora o computador (compu instead of computer)
  • tele o tv en lugar de televisión (tele or tv instead of television)
abbreviations in spanish examples with female teacher

As you can see, we even share some of these. Like, in the case of tele / tv. Only the sound is different. Not super different, but different. Let’s take a look at how they would sound all together:

¿Te vas en moto o en bici?
(Are you taking the motorcycle or the bike?)

En bici. Me llevo tu boli, ¿vale? Por cierto, si sales, no vayas a dejar la tele encendida o la compu.
(By bike. I’ll take your pen, ok? By the way, if you go out, don’t leave the TV on or the computer.)    

Make sure to watch until the if you want to get a story entirely made with these shortened words, so you can practice with it!

4. Abbreviations in Spanish #4: Tiempo y espacio (Time and space)

The same thing happens with these places and spaces that you’ll for sure run into quite often because, again, these are all everyday words that natives use as a substitute for a longer word:

  • Disco por discoteca (disco for discotheque)
  • Cumple por cumpleaños (cumple for birthday)
  • Fin o finde por fin de semana (fin or finde for weekend)
  • Pelu por peluquería (pelu for hair salon)
  • Súper por supermercado (súper for supermarket)
  • Cole por colegio (cole for school)
  • Uni or U por Universidad (Uni or U for University)

Now, let’s try them all together, if we can manage:

El fin vamos a la disco por su cumple, pero antes tengo que pasar por la pelu y el súper que quedan cerca de esa U, ¿o era un cole inmenso? ¿Sabes? La de siempre. (This weekend we’re going to the discotheque for his birthday but, before that, I have to go to the hair salon and the supermarket that are near that University, or was it a huge school? Do you know? The usual one.)


La de siempre is another great example of a chunk that, for the life of me, I could barely translate. O sea, ¡que la traducción literal apesta! (Meaning, the literal translation sucks!) It’ll be something along the lines of “the one from always”. It actually means “the usual one” or “the most common one”. 

5. Abbreviations in Spanish #5: Foto y peli (Photo and movie)

In English, you do this with “photo” as well, and the idea with peli is exactly the same. The full words would be fotografía (photograph) and película (movie). 

Notice that fotografía is an homonymous word in Spanish. This means that the same word means two different things. The thing itself, photograph; and the discipline, photography.

So, it’ll be quite common to hear people talking about their hobbies, saying something like: Me encanta tomar fotos y ver pelis. (I love taking photos and watching movies.) Because, well, most people do. 

6. Abbreviations in Spanish #6: Profe, porfa (Teacher, please)

I’m mixing these two because it is so common to hear them together. To me, it is one of those school time sentences that will forever be in my head associated with some classmate begging the teacher for any kind of favor. 

Usually something related to a test or a missed assignment. The full words are profesor or profesora (teacher) and por favor (please).

Maura, esta tarea debía entregarse hace dos días. Lo siento, pero ya no puedo aceptarla.
(Maura, this homework was due two days ago. I’m sorry, but I can’t accept it anymore.)

¡Profe, porfis!  ¡Le juro que es la última vez!
(Teacher, please! I swear it is the last time!)       

7. Abbreviations in Spanish #7: Kilo (Kilogram)

For some reason beyond my comprehension, we almost never say the full word “kilogram” but it only works like this with kilo (kilogram). Miligramo (miligram), gramo (gram), litro (liter), milliliter (mililitro), they are all pronounced in full. See? No rules, just nature. 

A typical sentence would be: Necesito bajar los kilos que me subí en navidad. (I need to lose the kilos I gained during Christmas.) Our languages might be different but, we all put on kilos very similarly. 

Now, I’ll tell you a little story which includes all of these in full, so you can practice shortening them as we just learned. Leave your solution in the comments, I’ll make sure to review it! 

Ready? Here’s your story:

Este año me propongo no ponerme depresiva por tonterías como subirme unos kilogramos o discutir con los profesores de la universidad. (This year, I intend not to get depressed over silly things like gaining a few kilograms or arguing with university professors.)

Este año voy a recordar más la simplicidad de los años de colegio, donde todo era tomar fotografías y ver películas. También, salir los fines de semana a cumpleaños, discotecas o pasear en bicicleta.  (This year I’m going to remember more the simplicity of the school years where it was all about taking pictures and watching movies. Also, going out on the weekends to birthday parties, discos, or riding my bike.)

Cualquiera de esas cosas, en lugar de estar pegada a la computadora trabajando, o yendo al supermercado y la peluquería semanalmente. (Any of those things,instead of being glued to the computer working, or going to the supermarket, and the hair salon on a weekly basis.)

No más apuntar todo con bolígrafo para que no se te olvide que tienes que mandar a reparar la motocicleta. (No more writing down everything with a pen, so you don’t forget that you have to get your motorcycle repaired.) 

No más estar asustada frente a la televisión viendo como la política no deja de meterse en la vida de la gente transsexual, bisexual, poliamorosa, etcétera, como si todos tuviésemos que ser heterosexuales o progresistas para respetarnos unos a otros. ¡Por favor! (No more being scared in front of the TV watching how politics keeps meddling in the lives of transsexual, bisexual, polyamorous people, etcetera, as if we all had to be straight or progressive to respect each other. Please!)

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