For members


Essential Spanish ‘text speak’ abbreviations that will help you sound like a local

Just when you think you’ve got the hang of Spanish, you get a text from a Spanish friend and realise you have to learn a whole new language all together.

Essential Spanish 'text speak' abbreviations that will help you sound like a local
Photo: Slphotography/Depositphotos

As with English, Spanish has evolved its own peculiar selection of abbreviated ‘text speak’ and it doesn’t always seem entirely logical.

In Spain, where the preferred channel of communication is often whatsapp – or wasap as it is called in text speak – it’s important to master the lingo – how else can you hold your own in all those group Whatsapp chats?

READ MORE: 95 percent of Spaniards prefer texting to talking

Much of Spanish text talk is just removing the vowels from a word but there are also some commonly used expressions that aren’t immediately obvious.

To help you know your tqm from your xq … here’s a list of the most common ones.

tq or tqm: Stands for ‘te quiero’ and ‘te quiero mucho’ (I love you and I love you a lot). And it’s often accompanied by a heart emoticon.

cnt: No, there’s no ‘u’ missing in this abbreviation. CNT stands for ‘contesta’ (answer), frequently used by impatient friends or jealous partners dying to hear back from you.

q or k: Why use three letters when one will do? q or k stand for ‘que’ – what or that- in text lingo

x: is not a kiss (which is usually represented with bs for besos) but in Spanish text speak is a stand-In for ‘por’ as in ‘three times four’ – tres por cuatro – 3×4. Totally logical!

xq: These two letters stand for ‘por qué’ (Why) and ‘porque’ (because) Also sometimes seen as xk.

xfa: In the same way. por favor/’por fa’ is shortened to xfavor or xfa. Or sometimes pf.

cdt: Cuídate meaning ‘take care’

nvp: An abbreviation for ‘Nos vemos pronto’ see you later, see you soon

npi: An abbreviation for ‘Ni puta idea’ which is quite common and not as rude as it sounds in English.  “No fucking idea, I don’t fucking know, who the fuck knows”

ps: isn’t an afterthought, it’s a shortening of pues as in “well” or “so then”

dnd: donde, meaning where.

ntp: No te preocupes or Don’t worry, no problem.

tb: también, meaning ‘too or also’ and it’s negative form, tampoco, is shortened to tmp.

or sometimes mñn: Mañana, meaning morning or tomorrow depending on the context.

maso: A quicker way to say más o menos: More or less, sort of.

jaja: This is the Spanish version for haha. Also appears as jejeje or even jijiji

And don’t forget Spaniards love to use emojis – they even lobbied for their own paella symbol. (As far as we know, it does actually represent the rice dish and is not a euphemism for something else)

Photograph: Emojipedia

Have we missed out a phrase that you see all the time? Add your suggestions by emailing [email protected]

READ MORE: 12 signs you’ve totally nailed the Spanish language

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Ten Spanish mistakes even Spaniards make

Frustrated with your Spanish? Don't sweat it: Even native speakers sometimes make mistakes. Here we list some of the most common ones - all in the name of making you feel better about yourself of course.

Ten Spanish mistakes even Spaniards make

It turns out English speakers don’t have a monopoly on mangling their language. Spanish speakers pepper their speech and writing with errors too.

A book published by Spain’s Cervantes Institute – Las 500 dudas más frecuentes del español – tackles the 500 thorniest issues faced by native speakers of Spanish.

From spellings, kiosco or quiosco? (you’ll see both) – to accents – porque or porqué? (the second is a noun meaning ‘reason’ or ‘motive’) – this article will help you clear up your doubts about the language.

But basta (or should that be vasta?) with all the small talk. Let’s get on with it.

¿Te escucho mal o te oigo mal?

I’m listening to you badly (‘te escucho mal‘) may sound horribly wrong in English but in Spanish, it’s become so widely used most Spaniards won’t even pick up on this bizarre mistake. The right answer is ‘te oigo mal‘ (I can’t hear you).

Te oigo mal. Photo: Robin Higgins / Pixabay

¿Ahí, hay o ay? 

Ouch! Wasn’t Spanish meant to be an easy language phonetically speaking? These three words are almost pronounced the same but may cause some Spaniards a headache when putting pen to paper. Hay (there is/are), ‘ahí‘ (over there) and ‘ay‘ is what flamenco ‘cantaores‘ (singers) scream or what you shout out if you’re in pain.

Ay, I’m being bitten by ants. Photo: Hans / Pixabay

Andé o anduve? 

The past simple form of the verb ‘to walk’ (andar) in Spanish trips up many native speakers who assume it to be regular. Right answer is anduve, anduviste, anduvo, anduvimos, anduvisteis, anduvieron.

What is the past simple form of the verb ‘to walk’ (andar)? Photo: 👀 Mabel Amber, who will one day / Pixabay

¿He freído o he frito? 

Brain frazzled yet? Well, not to worry because Spaniards often mix up the past participle of to fry (‘freído’) with the adjective fried (‘frito’). Food for thought.

Freído or Frito? Photo: Andrew Ridley / Unsplash

Subir para arriba, entrar para adentro, salir para afuera

In English, this would equate with ‘go up up’, ‘to go inside inside’ and ‘to go out’. It seems redundant, it’s grammatically wrong but the vast majority of Spaniards have used these forms more than once.

Subir para arriba? Photo: Bruno Nascimento / Unsplash

El agua, el arma, el hambre

Sometimes the gender (‘el’ or ‘la’) of nouns in Spanish is a bitch, pardon our French. It’s hard enough already for English speakers to label everything as either masculine or feminine, so when you get nouns that end with an ‘a’ but have a masculine pronoun it all gets very confusing. Still, many Spanish mistakenly say ‘este agua‘ or ‘este arma‘ when they should use ‘esta‘. 

El agua instead of La agua. Photo: rony michaud / Pixabay

¿Sólo o solo?

If you haven’t got your head around Spanish accents, rest assured many Spaniards aren’t clear on the rules either. Even the Royal Spanish Academy (the world’s chief body on the Spanish language) can’t make its mind up on whether to include an accent on ‘sólo‘ (only) or just leave it like solo (alone). Feel like you need a ‘café solo‘ (black coffee) now?

Do you need an accent with your café solo? Photo: David Schwarzenberg / Pixabay

Adding an unnecessary ‘s’ to second person past simple forms (‘fuistes’, ‘hicistes’, ‘llamastes’ and so on)

The letter ‘s’ at the end of words may be a relatively unheard sound in southern Spain, but in the rest of the Iberian peninsula, they’re rather fond of it. So much so that many Spaniards add it to verbs where it doesn’t even exist. By the way, it should be ‘fuiste’, ‘hiciste’ and ‘llamaste’.

Some Spanish people an extra ‘s’ onto words. Photo: Muhammad Haseeb Muhammad Suleman / Pixabay

¿Conducí o conduje? ¿Traducí o Traduje? 

Common verbs like ‘to drive’ and ‘to translate’ manage to catch out many Spaniards because of their unexpected irregular form in the past simple. The correct form for both verbs ends in -je, -jiste, -jo, -jimos, -jisteis and -jeron

Do you know how to say ‘I drove’ in Spanish? Photo: Pexels / Pixabay

Han solo

“What on earth is that choice of picture about?” you may ask. Well, this slide is only about one word- Han, solo. Terrible jokes aside, ‘there have been’ is not ‘han habido‘ in Spanish. The correct form is always ‘ha habido‘ but many Spaniards join the dark side. 

Han Solo. Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP