Debbie Nogueira
By Debbie Nogueira on June 21, 2022

Spanish Word Formation Hacks

You are probably familiar with the common conception that an easy way to form a Spanish word from an English one is simply by adding an "o" to the end of it. Although this may be true in 1% of cases, read on to learn Spanish word formation hacks that will work more often.

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In this article, you will be learning how to form Spanish words that are very similar to the English words and that have the same meaning in both languages. These types of words are called cognates, and they are a language learner's best friends. An example would be that the Spanish word conversación. This word is easily recognizable as the English word conversation. Sometimes cognates are exactly the same in both languages. These are called exact cognates. The common misconception that you can create a Spanish word by simply adding to the end of an English one likely comes from knowing a few exact cognates in Spanish. A few examples are rodeo, macho, and solo. These three words are exactly the same in English and Spanish. Now that you know that cognates are your friends, take a look at these Spanish word formation hacks. 

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English Words Ending in "tion"

This word formation hack is pretty simple and words pretty often. If you take an English word that ends in tion, change the t to c, and add an accent to the o (ó), you will have hacked your way into forming a Spanish word. For example, information becomes información in Spanish. Participation in Spanish is participación. This hack works very well for forming Spanish words by looking at the English ones. It does not always work exactly though. An example is the word atención. Although the t changes to a c, and you add the accent to the o, you also have to remove a t. It is always best to look up a word to make sure of your hack, but in a bind, 9 times out of 10, changing tion  to ción will create the Spanish word. Do pay attention to the difference in pronunciation, however. Click on atención to hear the correction pronunciación for the ending ción in Spanish.

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Forming the Spanish word from an English word that ends in sion only requires you to make one small modificación: add an accent to the o. Words formed in this way are usually exact cognatesTension turns into tensión. Fusion becomes fusiónVersion in Spanish is versión. Although English words ending in sion will simply add an accent to form the Spanish, you may have to drop some of the letters from the English word to create the Spanish one. For example, aggression drops a g and an to form the Spanish word agresión. This modificación is due to the fact that the only double letters found in Spanish words are rr and ll and sometimes cc. Anytime an English word has a double letter other than r or in this Spanish hack words, you will have to drop one of the double letters. Admission becomes admisión, and commission becomes comisión. Although dropping the double letter does not affect the pronunciación, it is always best to consult a dictionary to make sure your written comunicación is accurate.

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English Words Ending in "ary"

The next Spanish word formación hack is creating Spanish words from English words that end in ary. The English word adversary will turn into adversario in English. Contrary becomes contrario. The English word primary, in Spanish, becomes primario. Like all rules, there are always going to be excepciones. The month of January does not become Januario. It is enero. Similarly, library is not librario. It is biblioteca. This hack is best paired with a diccionario. Another way to safely use this hack is to only use it for forming adjectives. Like the previous word formation hacks, some spelling modifications will be necesario

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Published by Debbie Nogueira June 21, 2022
Debbie Nogueira