How to Text in Spanish Like a Native Speaker

Contributed by Jilynnette Centeno Millan , Spanish Instructor, ILSC-San Francisco
Edited by Lacy Edney, Marketing and Social Media Coordinator, ILSC-San Francisco

Texting photo by Flickr user Rachel Hildebrand

We are always communicating with others; if not by email, then by text messaging. Let’s be honest, most of us rarely ever talk on the phone unless it’s an emergency. Text messaging has a really important role in our everyday lives. When text messages started to become a big hit, they had a limited number of characters, very similar to Twitter. This limited space and the fact that people like to simplify their lives has had a huge impact in the way we text today!

The usage of abbreviations is not particular to English or Spanish– it happens in every language. People like to make their lives easier by texting faster, and therefore by shortening words.  But how are these shortened terms decided? Who makes the decision to use “xq” or “pq” for “Por qué” (Why) and not another abbreviation?  In general, slang terms used in Spanish are most likely to be phonetic abbreviations or acronyms.

Here are the top 4 types of Spanish texting abbreviations, as well as some trendy abbreviations used by Spanish native speakers.

1. Using only endings of words

One of the most common things that native speakers do when they text in Spanish is omitting some of the letters in words and using just the endings. For example, the “es” sound at the beginning of words like “estoy”, “estás” or “estamos” will be dropped, leaving you with “toy”, “tás” and “tamos” instead. Dropping the “d” is widespread orally, and it is also used when texting. For example: “cansado” is “cansao” and “todo” is “to” or “too.” If a friend texts you: “toy cansao” it means “estoy cansado” or “too tá listo” it means “todo está listo.”

2. Initials of Common Words

Another way to communicate faster is to use the first letter of each word on a phrase, just like you text “omg” for “oh my god.” We have initials for phrases, prepositions,  interrogative pronouns, as well as for greetings. Here are some of the most commonly used initials:

tqm

te quiero mucho

I love you (for friends)

dtb

Dios te bendiga

God bless you

cm

como/cómo

*Context will let you know

like/how

txt

texto

text

msj

mensaje

message

tmbn or tbn

también

also/too

bn

bien

good/okay

tvo

te veo

see you

cdt

cuídate

take care

3. Numbers and Symbols

 In Spanish, we also use numbers and symbols to replace sounds. The most common numbers are 100 for sounds similar to “cien”, and 2 for sounds like “dos.” People also use symbols such as “+”, “-” and “x” meaning “más”, “menos” and “por” respectively. The following are some of the most typical words:

100pre

siempre

always

xp

porque/por qué

because/why

salu2

saludos

greeting

besit2

besitos

kisses

grax

gracias

Thank you

+

más

more

+-

más o menos

so and so

=

igual

same here

xdon

perdón

sorry

xfa

por favor

please

 

 

Texting in Spanish, photo by Jily

4. Consonants sounds

 Do you remember when you learned the alphabet? Although students usually forget about it by the second week of class, when it comes to texting it will definitely come in handy. Other texting slang that people use in Spanish are abbreviations using the sounds of consonants or the combination of some letters. For instance, for sounds like “ka” you can simply use the letter “k” (casa → ksa); for the “de” sound, use the letter “d” (deseo → dseo). Practice your alphabet and start texting!

d

de

of/from

dim

dime

tell me

kbza

cabeza

head

bb

bebe/bebé

(s)he drinks/baby

q hcs/k hcs

qué haces

what are you doing

spro

espero

I hope so

no c

no sé

I don’t know

k

okay/que/qué

Okay/that/what

q

que/qué

that/what

Remember that each country has its own particular slang. These are some typical abbreviations that even if they are not common in the particular country like the Dominican Republic for example, they will still recognize what you meant when you  use them. Also, keep in mind that things like “LOL” and “OMG” are quite universal and you can use them even with Spanish speakers.

Do you know other Spanish slang and abbreviations? Perhaps something used in a particular country? Share what you know with us. We love hearing from you at ILSC!

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