Palabras compuestas – don’t make this mistake

To start this blog palabras compuestas –don’t make this mistake is important to start first by explaining what are “palabras compuestas”.

Palabras compuestas are words made from two different words, so we have two words and we combine them voilá! We have another word, and these kind of words are treated as single words themshelves.

Ok, so let me give you a bit of background about what I am talking about this today and where I got the idea from. Actually it is a really short story and totally relevant (promise!) .

So this blog was created because I was on a lesson and one of my students made a mistake, a mistake I think it was likely to be made for more Spanish students, that is why I thought I would share it. So yeah! This blog actually comes from one of my students  (and yes, I asked him and he gave me permission to share our story 🙂 )

So we were in the lesson and he mentioned “guardacostas”  –coastguards that as you can see if a “palabra compuesta”, we have “guardar” + “costas” and we were talking and at some point he wanted to talk about the word in plural and he said los guardas costas, thinking that as the word has two words on it, both would need to follow the number rules  but that doesn’t happen with palabras compuestas as they are considered just one word, and they are a bit special about the plural, because, we don’t actually change the word from singular to plural or vice versa, we just change the article that goes with them.

For example in this case with the word “guardacostas”

The singular is –>  el/la guardacostas


The plural is –> los/las guardacostas

As you can see the word stays the same, it is just the article that changes and give us the number, singular or plural, and even the gender (feminine or masculine) in this case.

And that is all for today my friend 🙂 as you can see quite simple, and quite straight forward but difficult to correct if you don’t know…

I thought I would write about it, first of all because I thought it might be something other students might be unaware of this, and second of it because  actually palabras compuestas are quite common in the day a day life. To prove that I leave you with some common palabras compuestas in Spanish:

Microondas – microwave

Pintalabios – lipstick

Sacacorchos – corkscrew

Parachoques – bumper

Sacapuntas – pencil sharpener

Espantapájaros – scarecrow

Guardabosques – forest ranger

Cortaplumas – penknife

Abrelatas – can opener

Dieciséis – sixteen (and many more numbers)

-do you know any other “palabras compuestas” share them below!


-do you think this is a mistake you might have made?

Also as always I would love to know:

-was this blog helpful?

If you still have any doubts, don’t hesitate to reach out and I will get back to you.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and as I said any questions, doubt, suggestion…let me know 🙂

If you rather watch this lesson in a video format come over to youtube and have a watch 🙂

Un abrazo virtual

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