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Rules and Tips to use the letter S in Spanish

Just like it is with the letter C in Spanish language, the letter S is somewhat tricky to use when writing in Spanish, for the C, S and Z sometimes sound the same. A good spelling means a serious commitment to learning a new language. That is why we are sharing some basic rules and tips for you to write Spanish properly.


Last week, we explained a little bit about the letter C and how to use it, some of those rules relate to the letter S as well, we recommend you to read that article as well. These are 12 basic tips and rules easy to remember when writing in Spanish.

We use the letter S when...

  • All the words ending in ‘ense’, when that word identifies residents or natives of a particular place. For example : Costarricense (from Costa Rica), Paricense (from Paris), Nicaraguense (from Nicaragua), Canadiense (from Canada).
  • All the words ending in ‘sivo’ and ‘siva’. For example : corrosivo (corrosive), masiva (massive), expresiva (expressive), explosivo (explosive).
  • All the words ending in ‘sión’, when these words come from those that end in ‘so’, ‘sor’ and ‘sivo’. For example : comprensivo - comprensión (understanding), persuasivo - persuasión (persuasion), represivo - represión (repression), preciso - precisión (precision).
  • All the superlative words ending in ‘isimo’ and ‘isima’. For example : inteligentísima (very intelligent), feísimo (very ugly), bellísima (quite beautiful).
  • All the adjective words ending in ‘oso’ and ‘osa’. For example : Bondadoso (kind), sobrosa (tasty), perezosa (lazy), maravilloso (wonderful), grandioso (great).
  • All the words ending in ‘ismo’. For example : atletismo (Athletics), vanguardismo (avant-garde), espiritismo (spiritism), altruismo (altruism).
  • All the words ending in ‘esca’ and ‘esco’. For example : gigantesco (gigantic), pintoresco (picturesque), grotesca (grotesque), burlesco (burlesque).
  • For the auxiliary verb 'haber (have)' preterite pluperfect subjunctive. These are past modal verbs are all used hypothetically. For example : hubiese vailado (would have danced), hubiese temido (would have feared), hubiese amado (would have loved).
  • All the words ending in ‘esta’, ‘esto’ and ‘ista’. For example : violinista (violinist), artista (artist), feminista (feminist), altruista (altruistic).
  • All the verbs of the imperfect tense in subjunctive mode. For example : amase (would love), partiese (would leave), cumpliese (would fulfilled).
  • All the words ending in ‘ersa’, ‘erse’ and ‘erso’. For example : atreverse (dare), adversa (adverse), inverso (reverse), perversa (perverse, wicked).
  • All the infinitive verbs that don't have ‘s’, ‘c’ or ‘z’. For example : querer - quiso (wanted), haber - has (have), ver - ves (see).

For our next article, we will explain the use of the letter Z in Spanish. 

Keep practicing, keep learning Spanish.



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