Category Archives: Writing Spanish

Capitalization rules in Spanish

Capitalization rules are different in English and Spanish. Spanish uses lesser capitalization than English. Today we talk about some such differences, key capitalization rules in Spanish, and what not to capitalize in Spanish.

What not to capitalize:

Nationality: In Spanish, even though names of countries or cities are capitalized, words derived from them – such as nationality and language are not capitalized.
Example: I am American =  Soy americano

Languages: Similarly, names of languages are not capitalized in Spanish.
Example: Do you speak Spanish = ¿Hablas español?

Days of the week: Names of the days of the week use lower-case letters.
Example: Today is Monday = Hoy es lunes

Unless the word comes as the first word of the sentence, we never capitalize names of ‘days of the week’ in Spanish.

Names of months: Names of the months of the year are not capitalized either.
Example: Today is May 5th = Hoy es el cinco de mayo

Composition (Movies, Books) titles: In written Spanish, titles of movies, books, plays, etc. capitalize only the first word and proper nouns.
Example: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone = Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal

Introductory titles: Titles (such as doctor, profesor, señor) are not capitalized in Spanish. However, common abbreviations (like Dr. for doctor) are capitalized.

Place names: Names of rivers, lakes, mountains etc. are capitalized, but the identifier (type of place) is not capitalized.
Example: In English we would usually say ‘I am going to see River Nile’. In Spanish, it would become ‘Voy a ver el río Nilo’. While we capitalize ‘Nile’ or ‘Nilo’ we do not capitalize ‘River’ or ‘río‘.

The name of most religions, their adjectives, and their adherents (proper nouns) are not capitalized in Spanish.
Example: Christianity = el cristianismo
Christian = cristiano
Muslim = musulmán

Ordinal numbers: When an ordinal number is used after a name, it isn’t capitalized.
Example: George the eighth = George octavo.
Note that we also skip the ‘the’ in such cases while translating to Spanish.

Hope these rules will help you write Spanish better!

Learn Spanish – CultureAlley

How to type special characters in Spanish! (¡, ¿, ñ, é and more)

While learning or writing Spanish, we often need to type special characters in Spanish like ‘¡’, ‘¿’, ñ, é, and so on!

Today, at CultureAlley, we talk about ways to type these characters and symbols for both Mac and Windows users:

Mac Users:

Mac users are lucky because it is relatively easy to type special characters and symbols on a Mac. Unlike Windows, the Mac operating systems do not require you to install a special keyboard. Here’s how you can type special characters in Spanish on a Mac:

I) Symbols: Spanish uses inverted punctuation marks (¿, ¡) extensively to communicate the tone of the sentence. To type the inverted punctuation marks follow these rule:

¡ = Option + 1
¿ Option + shift + ?

II) Special characters

1) Accents (á, é, í, ó, and ú)
To get accents on the Mac, hold down the Option key, and while holding it down, type the letter e; then release those keys and type the letter that you want the accent to appear on:

á = Option + e, then a;  Á = Option + e, then shift + a
é = Option + e, then e; É = Option + e, then shift + a
í = Option + e, then i; Í = Option + e, then shift + a
ó = Option + e, then o; Ó = Option + e, then shift + a
ú = Option + e, then u; Ú = Option + e, then shift + a

2) ñ
Ñ is a letter of the modern Latin alphabet, formed by an N with a diacritical tilde. For typing ñ, hold down the Option key while you type the n; release and type n again.

ñ = Option + n, then n; Ñ = Option + n, then shift + n

3) ü
To place the diaeresis over the u, hold down the Option key while pressing the u key; release and type u again.

ü = Option + u, then u, Ú = Option + e, then shift + u

References: Macintosh: Typing Special Characters and Symbols (

Windows Users

If you’re using Microsoft Windows, the best way to type Spanish characters – is to install a software that configures your keyboards with an international character set. (Also useful if learning German, French or most other European languages)

Installing the international keyboard : Windows XP:

  1. Click on the ‘Start’ menu/button -> Go to ‘Control Panel’
  2. Click on: ‘Regional and Language Options’ icon – a new window will appear
  3. Select the ‘Languages’ tab
  4. Click the ‘Details’ button
  5. Under ‘Installed Services’, click ‘Add’ – a new window will appear
  6. Select the United States -International option
    In the pull-down menu, select United States-International as the default language.
  7. Click OK
  8. Click Apply

Installing the international keyboard in Windows Vista: The method is very similar to that for Windows XP.

  1. Go to Start menu–>Control Panel–>Clock,
  2. Under : Language, Region–>Click on ‘Change Keyboards’
  3. A new window appears: Click the Change Keyboards button
  4. A new window appears: Click the ‘Add’ button
  5. Select United States-International keyboard
  6. Click OK
  7. From drop down menu (Default Input Language) select United States International

Typing on International keyboard:
To type the special characters, two steps are required:
á = ‘ + a
é = ‘ + e
í = ‘ + i
ó = ‘ + o
ú = ‘ + u
ñ = ~ + n
ü = ” + u

To type the special punctuation characters, hold down on the Alt key while you type the appropriate punctuation mark. Be careful as at times, only one of the two Alt keys will work for this.
¡ = Alt (hold) + !
¿ = Alt (hold) + ?

If you don’t want to use the international keyboard:
Using the numeric keypad: Windows allows the user to type any available character by holding down one of the Alt keys while typing in a numeric code on the numeric pad. Here is a list of all codes used for special characters and symbols.
Simply type these numbers on the numeric keypad (numpad) (not the numbers on the main part of the keyboard) while holding down an Alt key:

  1. á — 0225
  2. Á — 0193
  3. é — 0233
  4. É — 0201
  5. í — 0237
  6. Í — 0205
  7. ñ — 0241
  8. Ñ — 0209
  9. ó — 0243
  10. Ó — 0211
  11. ú — 0250
  12. Ú — 0218
  13. ü — 0252
  14. Ü — 0220
  15. ¿ — 0191

Happy typing! :)