Written Spanish Language: 5 Resources to a Better Writing Practice

The Spanish language has a long and illustrious written tradition spanning centuries. Yes, speaking Spanish is important when you’re having real-life conversation but what about when you’re messaging someone? Or sending an email? Applying for a job in Spanish?

That’s exactly why you have to be familiar with written Spanish, too! SpanishPod101 has a short but useful video on the topic:

Having a set time to practice written Spanish is also important in your language learning journey. In this blog post, we’ll talk about the history of written Spanish, the differences it has compared to spoken Spanish versions of the language, and also give you some of the best resources you can use to master writing in Spanish!

1. The history of written Spanish

The origins of written Spanish can be traced back to the 9th century, with texts like the Glosas Emilianenses regarded as one of the earliest written records of a Romance language derived from Latin.

written spanish in at a radio station

It wasn’t until the 13th century that a recognizable form of written Spanish began to take shape. This was mainly thanks to seminal works that appeared during that time..

Over the coming centuries, more literary masterpieces played a role in forming written Spanish to its current structure. Are you familiar with La Celestina by Fernando de Rojas? Or with the immortal writing of Miguel de Cervantes? Ever heard of Don Quixote? (It has a great Spanish audiobook version ;))

A major milestone was the founding of the Real Academia Española in 1713, an institution dedicated to establishing linguistic norms and publishing authoritative dictionaries and grammar guides.

2. Differences between written and spoken Spanish

While both mediums are indispensable, there are several key differences between written Spanish and its spoken counterpart.

Let’s take a look!

AspectWritten SpanishSpoken Spanish
FormalityStrictly follows grammatical rules, using a more formal register.Often has a more relaxed, casual style.
SyntaxUses complex Spanish sentence structures with stricter word order rules.Frequently uses simpler sentences with flexible word order.
VocabularyDraws from a more formal vocabulary set, including many lengthy words.Uses Spanish slang, colloquialisms, and shortened words.
ContractionsAvoids contractions and elisions.Contractions and elisions are common in spoken language (e.g. “pa” instead of “para“).
RegisterUses an elevated register, steering clear of vulgar language.Can use vulgar expressions in informal contexts.

3. 5 resources to make your written Spanish better

If your goal is to refine and make your written Spanish proficiency better, these 5 resources are all here to help you. Let’s check them one by one!

Real Academia Española Dictionary

The Real Academia Española dictionary is the official dictionary of the Spanish language, published by the Royal Spanish Academy. It is the authoritative reference for proper Spanish spelling, definitions, and usage.

Writers, editors, students, and anyone working with the Spanish language consult this dictionary to be accurate and follow the correct linguistic norms.

Diccionario de la Lengua Espanola (Spanish Edition) (2 volumes)
  • Your go-to Spanish dictionary
  • The official dictionary you need to use to perfect your written Spanish

Writing Style Guides

Guidebooks like the Manual de Estilo de la Lengua Española give you a comprehensive guideline on effective writing styles and practices.

Manual de estilo de la lengua española (5ª edición, revisada)
  • Helps you write well and properly
  • Explains the requirements of normative Spanish language

Spanish Grammar Books

Comprehensive reference works such as the Gramática de la Lengua Española offer in-depth explorations of Spanish grammar rules.

Gramatica lengua espanola: Reglas y ejercicios (Spanish Edition)
  • Indispensable at school, at work or at home
  • Coverage of Spanish nouns, adjectives, articles & more grammar categories

Quality Publications

Regularly reading well-written books, newspapers, and magazines exposes you to exemplary writing styles and vocabulary usage.

You can read easy Spanish books, read Spanish newspapers or magazines.

Writing Practice with Feedback

Continuous practice, coupled with feedback from native speakers or language instructors, is essential for steady improvement. This is why you can join Reddit subreddits like WriteStreakES.

Or look on Discord, and practice in groups!

4. Write an essay in Spanish with writing rules and useful phrases

Maybe, in the future you find yourself in the situation where you have to compose Spanish essays or academic papers. And then, you will need these common Spanish essay phrases:

AspectWritten SpanishSpoken Spanish
FormalityStrictly follows grammatical rules, using a more formal register.Often has a more relaxed, casual style.
SyntaxUses complex Spanish sentence structures with stricter word order rules.Frequently uses simpler sentences with flexible word order.
VocabularyDraws from a more formal vocabulary set, including many lengthy words.Uses Spanish slang, colloquialisms, and shortened words.
ContractionsAvoids contractions and elisions.Contractions and elisions are common in spoken language (e.g. “pa” instead of “para“).
RegisterUses an elevated register, steering clear of vulgar language.Can use vulgar expressions in informal contexts.

5. Mastering Spanish Grammar Through Conversation-Based Chunking

One highly effective method to studying Spanish grammar and written Spanish is through Conversation Based Chunking.

This innovative method involves breaking down natural conversations into manageable “chunks” or phrases, and then using these chunks in real-life conversations.

Rather than memorizing grammar rules and words in isolation, you can study a common conversational phrase like “No lo entendí“, observe it in real-life situations to see how native speakers use it.

Seek out dedicated Spanish chunking resources to fully leverage this powerful technique. Why not start here?

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