Abbreviations in Spanish: 39 Spanish Abbreviations That Native Speakers Use

When you’re talking and writing a lot in Spanish, you inevitably run into abbreviations in Spanish. And you might be surprised at first: what are abbreviations in Spanish; how do you use them; when do you use them?

Let’s answer all of these questions on the Spring Spanish Channel! Maura tells you everything you have to know:

SPANISH NATIVE SPEAKERS SAY THIS ALL THE TIME: 23 Abbreviations in Spanish

You won’t find this in a textbook, but native Spanish speakers use palabras acortadas (abbreviations in Spanish) like these all the time.

In this lesson, you will learn the 39 most important palabras acortadas (abbreviations in Spanish), so you can sound like a true Spanish native speaker. 

1. Depre (Depressed)

So, the first thing we 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.

Listen to this short Spanish conversation for example:

ACTOR 1
¿Qué te pasa? ¿Pasó algo?
(What is it? Did something happen?)

ACTOR 2
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.

ACTOR 1
Ahhh, me asustaste. Pensé que te estaba dando algo.
(Ahhh, you scared me. I thought something bad was happening.

ACTOR 2
No te preocupes. No es nada. ¡Qué dramática!
(Don’t worry. It’s nothing. So dramatic!)

CHUNK ALERT!

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. 

Curious to see these abbreviations in Spanish and chunks in action? We’ve got you covered:

  • Estoy depre porque no he aprobado el examen. (I’m depressed because I didn’t pass the exam.)
  • Mi amiga está depre desde que terminó con su novio. (My friend has been depressed since she broke up with her boyfriend.)
  • Cuando me dijiste que te ibas, casi me estaba dando algo. (When you told me you were leaving, something bad was almost happening to me.)
  • Mi madre se asustó tanto que te estaba dando algo. (My mom got so scared that something bad was happening to her.)

For many more important and helpful chunks like this in Spanish, make sure to download our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit with the chunks most frequently used by native speakers! I mean, it’s free, and it’s right there. 

✔️ Cheat Sheet with 54 essential Spanish Chunks you’ll hear and use yourself in ANY Spanish conversation (and example sentences). Taken from our YouTube Teacher’s most popular videos!

✔️ 2 Bonus Cheat Sheets with Travel Chunks and Dating/Relationship Chunks

✔️ A Spanish Chunking Tutorial showing you the 1 technique that’ll help you make 100% of the Spanish from our videos roll off the tongue in just 5 minutes a day (you’re probably only using 50% of our lessons’ potential right now…)

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. 

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!)

And if you want, you can check more of these examples:

  1. Mi hermano es muy progre y apoya todas las causas sociales. (My brother is very progressive and supports all social causes.)
  2. Mi amigo es poli y tiene varias relaciones abiertas. (My friend is poly and has several open relationships.)
  3. Conocí a una persona trans que es muy valiente. (I met a trans person who is very brave.)
  4. Ella se identifica como bi y tiene una novia y un novio. (She identifies as bi and has a girlfriend and a boyfriend.)
  5. Mi amigo es hetero y siempre habla de su novia. (My friend is straight and always talks about his girlfriend.)

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.

3. Objetos (Objects) abbreviations in Spanish: bici, moto, boli & more!

These everyday objects are usually, we dare say, always abbreviated in Spanish.

SpanishEnglish
bici en lugar de bicicleta bici instead of bicycle
moto en lugar de motocicletamoto instead of motorcycle
boli en lugar de bolígrafoboli instead of pen
compu en lugar de computadora o computadorcompu instead of computer
tele o tv en lugar de televisióntele or tv instead of television
abbreviations in spanish examples with female teacher

As you can see, we even share some of these with English. Like, in the case of tele / tv. Only the sound is different. Not super different, but different.

Let’s listen at how they would sound all together:

ACTOR 1
¿Te vas en moto o en bici?
(Are you taking the motorcycle or the bike?)

ACTOR 2
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.)    

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:

SpanishEnglish
Disco por discotecadisco for discotheque
Cumple por cumpleañoscumple for birthday
Fin o finde por fin de semanafin or finde for weekend
Pelu por peluqueríapelu for hair salon
Súper por supermercadosúper for supermarket
Cole por colegiocole for school
Uni or U por UniversidadUni 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.)

CHUNK ALERT!

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”. 

Need more real-life Spanish sentences with these abbreviations?

  1. Vamos a la disco esta noche a bailar. (We are going to the discotheque tonight to dance.)
  2. Estudio medicina en la Uni. (I study medicine at the University.)
  3. El cole organiza una excursión cada primavera. (The school organizes a field trip every spring.)
  4. La pelu de mi barrio es muy buena. (The hair salon in my neighborhood is very good.)
  5. Voy al súper a comprar frutas y verduras. (I’m going to the supermarket to buy fruits and vegetables.)
  6. Este finde voy a descansar en casa. (This weekend I’m going to rest at home.)
  7. Hoy es el cumple de mi hermano. (Today is my brother’s birthday.)

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.)
  • Le tomé una foto al atardecer en la playa. (I took a photo of the sunset on the beach.)
  • La última peli que vi en el cine fue increíble. (The last movie I saw at the cinema was incredible.)

6. Profe, porfa (Teacher, please)

We’re mixing these two because it is so common to hear them together. It is one of those school time sentences that will forever be in your 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).

ACTOR 1
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.)

ACTOR 2
¡Profe, porfis!  ¡Le juro que es la última vez!
(Teacher, please! I swear it is the last time!)       

7. Kilo (Kilogram)

For some reason, 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. 

8. Other important abbreviations in Spanish

There are, of course, lots and lots of abbreviations in Spanish. In this article, we only shared some of the most common ones. But, we’ll give you a list of Spanish abbreviations and Spanish full words, so you can use these in Spanish dialogues, too:

Spanish AbbreviationSpanish Full WordEnglish
MuniMunicipalidadMunicipality
DocuDocumentoDocument
RefriRefrigeradorRefrigerator
AppAplicaciónApplication (App)
CompuComputadoraComputer
PeliPelículaMovie
CelCelularCell phone
E-mailCorreo electrónicoEmail
GymGimnasioGym
PeluPeluqueríaHair Salon
MetroMetropolitanoSubway
TaxiTaxímetroTaxi
AutoAutomóvilCar
MiliMilitarMilitary
ExpoExposiciónExhibition
TartaTartaletaPie

Shall we say, in action:

  • La muni está organizando un evento cultural este fin de semana. (The municipality is organizing a cultural event this weekend.)
  • Esta app es muy útil para organizar mis tareas. (This app is very useful for organizing my tasks.)
  • Te envié el e-mail con los detalles. (I sent you the email with the details.)
  • El metro estaba muy lleno esta mañana. (The subway was very crowded this morning.)
  • La vida en el mili es muy dura. (Life in the military is very tough.)

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