Spanish Language Blog

La apócope Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Spanish Grammar

Three years ago I wrote about la apócope in Spanish and today I’m going to review some rules and give you more examples.

La apócope is when the last word or syllable of a word is lost, due to phonetic reasons. In Spanish the following words are apocopadas (shortened):

1 – Some words that come before a singular masculine noun:

bueno –> buen
buen tiempo = good weather

malo –> mal
mal hombre = bad man

alguno –> algún
algún día = some day

ninguno –> ningún
ningún sitio = no place

primero –> primer
primer libro = first book

tercero –> tercer
tercer capítulo = third chapter

uno –> un
un coche = a car

santo –> san
The word santo is only shortened before people’s names. Compare:

santo hombre / hombre santo = holy man
San Juan = St. John
San Pedro = St. Peter

Exceptions: Santo Tomás, Santo Tomé,Santo Toribio, Santo Domingo

2. The following words are apocopadas before any noun:

cualquiera –> cualquier
un niño cualquiera = cualquier niño [any boy]
una niña cualquiera = cualquier niña [any girl]

ciento –> cien
ciento tres = cien años (a hundred years), cien veces (a hundred times)

grande –> gran (only in the singular)
circo grande = gran circo [big circus]

3. The following words are apocopadas before an adjective or adverb:

tanto –> tan
¡Te quiero tanto! [I love you so much!] = Era tan bueno… [It was so good…]
¿Cuánto tiempo? [How long?] = ¡Cuán fuerte eres! [How strong you are!]

Attention! Tanto and como do not shorten before these words:

mejor [better] / peor [worse] = cuanto mejor, tanto peor, etc.
mayor [bigger] / menor [smaller] = cuanto mayor, cuanto menor, etc.
más [more] / menos [less] = cuanto más, cuanto menos, etc.
antes [before] / después [after] = tanto antes, cuanto después, etc.

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.