Spanish contractions “al” and “del”

Spanish contractions al and del

Welcome to our grammar lesson about al and del, where we will learn and practice these Spanish contractions.

Two sentences with these Spanish contractions
Two sentences with these contractions

A contraction is when two words merge into one.

In this lesson we will learn the rules for al and del: when do they happen and how to use them.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

“al” and “del” – when do they happen?

There are only two contractions in Spanish: al and del.

al happens when the preposition “a” would otherwise be followed by the article “el”.
del happens when the preposition “de” would otherwise be followed by the article “el”.

Expressing the contractions as formulas:

  • a + el = al
  • de + el = del


Examples:

RightWrong
Vamos al supermercadoVamos a el supermercado
¿Conoces al jefe?¿Conoces a el jefe?
Vengo del cineVengo de el cine
Es la hermana del profesorEs la hermana de el profesor

Exceptions – when the contractions don’t happen

“al” and “del” don’t happen if the article El is capitalized.

Examples:

Vamos a viajar a El Salvador.
We are going to travel to El Salvador (El Salvador is the name of a country, so “El” is capitalized).

Tolkien es el autor de El Señor de los Anillos.
Tolkien is the author of The Lord of the Rings. (El Señor de los Anillos is the name of the book, so “El” is capitalized).



Also, be mindful that in this lesson we are always talking about the article “el” (meaning the), not the subject pronoun “él” (with an accent mark).

With the subject pronoun “él”, the contraction never happens:

Le preguntamos a él.
We ask him.

Las gafas son de él.
The glasses belong to him.

Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about “al” and “del”:

Exercise

Now we are going to practice with sentences.

Fill the gaps choosing between the options in brackets:

1) Me encanta esta parte ___ libro. (del / de el)
I love this part of the book.

2) El maletín es ___ profesor. (del / de el)
The briefcase belongs to the teacher.

3) Esta es la portada ___ Médico, la novela de Noah Gordon. (del / de El)
This is the cover of The Physician, the novel by Noah Gordon.

4) Voy ___ Paso, Texas. (al / a El)
I’m going to El Paso, Texas.

5) Tengo que ir ___ supermercado. (al / a el)
I have to go to the supermarket.

Solutions:
1)
del
2) del
3) de El
4) a El
5) al