Spanish as a language

Castilian vs Spanish: Are They The Same Language?

Despite the fact that we are in the 21st century and that Spanish has existed for centuries, even today there is still a debate that revolves around the naming of the language.

Is Castilian a language, are the terms Spanish and Castilian synonymous, do we say Castilian Spanish?

There are many doubts that come to our minds when it comes to labeling this language. Today, at iScribo, we tell you some curiosities about this debate and clarify your doubts.

Spanish in Spain and around the world

We have already talked on other occasions about the countries in which Spanish is spoken and the infinite varieties that exist not only between countries but also within regions. After all, more than 580 million people speak it even if it is not their mother tongue.

As for what to call the language, the Spanish RAE is clear — Spanish and Castilian are the same language, it depends on the speaker to designate the way they call it. Therefore, we can tell you that yes, Castilian is a language, but it is the same as Spanish.

Why such controversy?

The truth is that it is more of a political or simply geographical matter. The Spanish Constitution itself, quite old we must say, calls the language Castilian, something that the Nobel Prize winner himself, the writer Camilo José Cela, criticises every time he has the chance.

The RAE tells us that calling the language Spanish avoids ambiguity since Castilian was the term used in the Kingdom of Castile back in the Middle Ages. Today, it would be preferable to use Castilian to refer to the speech of the Spanish regions of Castile.

In Latin America, generally, they prefer to call what is spoken in the New Continent Spanish and what is spoken in the Old Continent Castilian. For example, in Argentina, the Argentine Academy of Letters recommends the use of Spanish as the name of the language, even though among the population it is often referred to as Castilian. Countries such as Paraguay, Bolivia, and Venezuela are in a very similar situation.

Other people in Spain will say that they prefer to designate the language as Castilian as the common language in territories where there is more than one official language, i.e., Galician, Basque, or Catalan.

I’ll tell you more. When I was a kid and I studied at school we talked about Lengua Castellana y Literatura (Castilian Language and Literature). What’s more, I don’t remember studying Latin American literary works until I was a teenager, when the subject was called Lengua Española (Spanish Language).

I also remember that it was very common to talk about Castilian Spanish what we talked in Spain. Fortunately, the RAE decided to put an end to this controversy.

Not all discussions are boring

We are used to this debate being boring in political or even intellectual circles, but the controversy has gone beyond that on some occasions.

Let’s not go too far, in 2021, at the Oscars gala, several artists performed the song Into the Unknown from the mythical children’s movie Frozen 2. The organisers had the brilliant idea of bringing together all the singers who had voiced Elsa in this song and had each of them sing a verse. What a surprise when they identified Carmen Sarahí, from Mexico, as a singer in Spanish and Gisela, from Spain, as a singer in Castilian! Most likely, the person who organised the performance did not speak Spanish, otherwise, they would have known that the two women were singing in the same language.

Anyway, why bother? Many other languages call it Spanish: spagnolo, spanjisht, hiszpański, spanska, and so on. The list is endless.

Either way, whether you use Spanish and Castilian or just one of the two terms, everyone is going to know, ­or should know, which language you are referring to. Spanish is very diverse, so we should take the opportunity to expand the frontiers of the language and get to know the more variants the better.

iScribo helps you clarify your doubts, take a look at our product and learn how to use the language, whether you call it Spanish or Castilian!

Writing in Spanish

Hyphen vs Dash: The Use Of Punctuation In Spanish

At first glance they may look almost the same, but if you look a little closer, these two spelling marks are completely different, not only in terms of their appearance but also in terms of their use.

Which is used for dialogue, the hyphen symbol, or dash symbol? What is a long dash? Clear up your doubts about these punctuation marks with the help of your favourite grammar checker.

Dash or long dash? I’m always confused!

Don’t worry, the Spanish m dash symbol (—) is often called a long dash (but the Spanish RAE advises against it) and is just that, a horizontal dash longer than the traditional Spanish hyphen symbol (-). Do not confuse it with the minus sign (–), which has an intermediate length.

It is very common to type a hyphen instead of the dash, as this sign is not on the normal keyboard. To type the dash symbol, use the combination ALT 0151 on your numeric keypad or look for it in the symbols under the Insert tab of the Toolbar. If you’re using your laptop, I’m afraid only the latter option will work.

When do you use the dash symbol?

This spelling sign has several uses, here are the two most frequent ones on the Spanish grammar:

  • To make incises: in this case, the dash can be replaced by commas or parentheses. If there are already parentheses in the sentence, use the dash instead. Keep in mind that the dash is attached to the first and last character it encloses.

Me gusta aprender idiomas —incluso el chino— aunque me cueste trabajo (I like to learn languages, even Chinese, although if it’s hard work).

  • To introduce dialogue and dialogue breaks. As you will see in this example, the initial dash symbol needs a space with the word it introduces, but it is attached to the word of the clause:

— Hola, Pedro —dijo Sara. (‘Hello, Peter,’ said Sara).

Maybe what I need to use is a hyphen symbol…

The first thing you need to know is that in Spanish, the hyphen is called guion, a diphthong word, and the RAE recommends writing it without the accent (practise your Spanish and read this interesting article from Fundéu). Its main uses are:

  • To join words or other signs: tren Madrid-Granada (train Madrid-Granada), crítico-literario (literary critic).
  • To separate linguistic content:
  • Syllables: ca sa (hou-se)
  • To mark suffixes or prefixes (where appropriate): -ísimo, pre-OTAN (before NATO).

It doesn’t stop there

We could spend days discussing the use of the dash symbol and hyphen symbol, and how to combine them with other spelling marks, but if you know these basic rules of punctuation in Spanish, you will be able to start using them without mistakes, and then expand your knowledge little by little. Follow our blog closely and our social networks to stay up to date with the latest in the use of Spanish grammar. Don’t miss a single detail with iScribo!

Writing in Spanish

What You Need to Know About the Spanish Imperative

The imperative mood is used to command or request something. Its main characteristics are that it does not appear in subordinate clauses, that it admits enclitic personal pronouns, and that the imperative verbs exist in the first person since we cannot give orders to ourselves.

You must keep in mind that there are regular and irregular verbs, and this is what will depend on how the verb is formed in the imperative. In this post we will focus on regular verbs.

Form and types of imperative

The imperative mood is only formed in the present tense; other grammatical resources, such as modal verbs, are used to give commands in any other tense.

There are two types of imperative:

  • The affirmative: ¡Ven aquí! (Come here!)
  • The negative: (que +) no + verb in the imperative mood (which is formed with the present subjunctive). ¡No conduzcas! (Don’t drive!)

Imperative in positive sentences with regular verbs

(you, second person of singular)bailabebeparte
Usted (you, second person of singular, polite form)bailebebaparta
Vosotros (you, second person of plural)bailadbebedpartid
Ustedes (you, second person of plural, polite form)bailenbebanpartan

Here you have some examples of imperative:

Bailad hasta que salga el sol (Dance until the sun comes up).

Bebed agua, hace mucho calor (Drink water, it’s very hot).

Partan antes de que sea tarde (Leave before it’s too late).

Imperative in negative sentences with regular verbs

(you, second person of singular)bailesbebaspartas
Usted (you, second person of singular, polite form)bailebebaparta
Vosotros (you, second person of plural)bailéisbebáispartáis
Ustedes (you, second person of plural, polite form)bailenbebanpartan

Some imperative examples:

Que no bailes así (Don’t dance like that).

No bebáis eso (Don’t drink that).

No partan antes del anochecer (Don’t leave before nightfall).

Most common errors

The most common mistake when forming the imperative mood is to use the verb in the infinitive, especially in the spoken language: *Sentaros en estas sillas (Sit on those chairs) instead of Sentaos en estas sillas.

This error is very frequent when using the verb ir (to go): *Ves a comprar el pan (Go to buy some bread) instead of Ve a comprar el pan.

*Irse is widely used in the spoken language, but is incorrect, it should be used id, idos and iros (not recommended but valid).

Some imperative examples:

* Irse de aquí antes de que me enfade (Get out of here before I get angry).

Id a por los gatos (Go get the cats).

Idos a la playa (Go to the beach).

Iros de compras al centro (Go shopping downtown).

The use of the infinitive as if it were an imperative is allowed only when preceded by a: ¡A comer! (Let’s eat!), and when the command is to a group in general and not to a single individual in particular: Salir por la puerta de emergencia y luego girar a la derecha (Exit through the emergency door and then turn right).

Practise non-stop

Practice is what gives the user all the confidence and skill necessary to form the imperative without mistakes. You will notice that in many regions and even countries, the incorrect use of imperative verbs is widespread. In iScribo we want to help you, so we invite you to try our tool and learn Spanish in the most correct way possible.

Improving language

What pleonasms does Spanish grammar allow?

If we look at the RAE, redundancy in Spanish is “the repetition or excessive use of a word or concept”. If we want to be more technical, we will use the term pleonasm, which is “the use in a sentence of one or more words that are unnecessary for it to make complete sense”.

The Spanish language uses redundancies regularly, especially in those regions or countries where they like to resort to exaggeration in speech, such as in Andalusia or Venezuela, where you will hear “que valga la redundancia” (excuse the repetition) often. The Spanish Academy allows the use of some redundancies that enrich the language and have been included in the daily life of Spanish speakers.

Spanish RAE, what is going on?

Sube para arriba (‘go up upwards’) or baja para abajo (‘go down downwards’). Can you imagine yourself subiendo para abajo (going up downwards) o bajando para arriba (going down upward)? We can always defy the laws of physics to try it! The RAE allows us to use pleonasms in the oral and colloquial speech of the Spanish language if we use these resources with expressive or emphatic value but advises us to avoid them in written texts.

Lo vi con mis propios ojos (I saw it with my own eyes) and lo escuché con mis propias orejas (I heard it with my own ears)

Here we have two examples of expressive pleonasm, so they are correct. How strange it is to use these expressions when in theory you cannot see through someone else’s eyes or hear with their ears. But… Is this true? Well… let’s ask people who are blind or deaf, they will tell you that they do see through their guide dogs or are able to hear when someone interprets sign language for them!

What’s more, have you ever travelled through the eyes of a friend? Many of our friends send us photos of their journeys and share them with us.

You cannot go in without cita previa (a prior appointment)

There is nothing wrong with this “presumed pleonasm” as it may provide new nuances. All appointments are prior appointments, but by prior appointment, we mean appointments made in advance and through a non-direct channel, such as the telephone or the Internet. If you meet your colleague, you have an appointment, but it obviously does not have the nuance of a prior appointment.

How do you know if you are using a pleonasm, or you are just emphasising?

The use of pleonasms depends on the ironic character of the speaker, but we should not take for granted what does not belong to us, as in the incorrect pleonasm casualidad imprevista (unforeseen chance), which has no emphatic or stylistic value. We all know that “chance” is a circumstance that cannot be foreseen. In iScribo we advise you to follow the logic of your brain and then, little by little, you will learn all the details that will allow you to master Spanish grammar. With the help of our grammar checker, you will learn how to use the pleonasms that are allowed. Try it today!

Spanish as a language

Why It’s Easy for Ukrainians to Learn Spanish

The international political landscape has put Ukraine in the eye of the storm. We see in the news interviews with Ukrainian people who speak as if they were Spanish natives. At iScribo we want to contribute in some way to pay tribute to these people, and that is why today we are going to talk to you about the Ukrainian language and why the inhabitants of Ukraine decide to learn Spanish as a foreign language.

At iScribo we defend the power of communication as a tool to avoid conflicts. Languages are a fundamental part of communication and understanding. Also, in today’s post, you can find out a little more about Slavic languages.

Ukranian language

First of all, let’s talk a bit about Ukrainian. It belongs to the East Slavic languages family and is the only official language of the country. It is spoken by two-thirds of the population, although it should be noted that a large proportion of Ukrainians speak Russian, especially in the eastern part of the country, sometimes as the only language or bilingually alongside Ukrainian.

After the Soviet era, the Ukrainian government began a Ukrainianisation campaign to encourage the use of the language as it had been losing speakers for some time. This campaign required the use of Ukrainian dubbing or subtitles for all foreign broadcasts.

Meet the Slavic languages

Slavic languages belong to the Indo-European linguistic family and use the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets for writing. What diversity!

They are spoken in Central Europe, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and Northern Asia. In addition, as if they didn’t already sound like extraordinary languages, there are several ways to classify Slavic languages, in this case, let’s mention them by their geographical classification:

– East Slavic – Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian.

– West Slavic – Polish, Slovak, Czech, Moravian, Sorbian, Kashubian, and Silesian languages; there are also two languages that have disappeared – Polabian and Slovincian.

– South Slavic – Slovene, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Macedonian, and Bulgarian, as well as Old Slavic, now extinct.

Let’s compare

More and more countries understand the importance of languages, which is why they include the learning of a second or third foreign language in their educational curricula and political programs.

In Ukraine, the most studied foreign languages are Russian, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, and Arabic.

Slavic languages are more complex grammatically

We are always told that Slavic languages are very difficult to learn. The truth is that nouns are inflected and change form in terms of gender (not only masculine and feminine but also in the neuter gender) and number (in addition to singular and plural there is also dual).

Too much information? Well, that’s not all – the verb marks person, number, aspect, tense, mood, and sometimes gender. As if that weren’t enough, declension is applied in up to seven cases to nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and sometimes numerals.

Oh, dear! Looking at it this way, it should not seem strange that a Spanish speaker has more difficulty learning Ukrainian than the other way around.

Ukrainian is somewhat more complex

Spanish is a Romance language that also descends from the Indo-European languages, but in this case from spoken Latin.

Moreover, as we have already seen on other occasions, Spanish is heavily influenced by Arabic for historical reasons, for example, the words ojalá (hopefully), alacena (cupboard), or alfombra (carpet). The Spanish language has had little contact with the Slavic languages throughout its history, so there is little influence between the two, for example, the word zar (czar) comes from Russian, but we do not have as many as we have with Greek, English or French.

For a person who speaks Ukrainian, learning Spanish is not a big challenge. The Spanish grammar is much less complicated, and the phonemes are simpler. We could test whether for a Slavic speaker, understanding Cuban Spanish is a challenge or not in terms of lexical diversity and intonation when speaking, it would be fun, wouldn’t it?

As you can see, all languages have a degree of difficulty when they are not your mother tongue, but if we stop to analyse the history and linguistics of each of them, we will realise that the difficulties we face when learning our own language help us and facilitate the path to learning a new one. At iScribo we love languages, this same passion leads us to invite you to improve and learn Spanish without complications. Visit us and discover how our tool works.

Writing in Spanish

How to Write Simple Sentences in Spanish

Today, we will learn the basics of forming simple sentences in Spanish. I’m sure you hadn’t noticed, but the previous sentence is an example of a simple sentence translated from Spanish. To be more specific, simple sentences contain a single verb or verbal periphrasis and, consequently, a single predicate.

In iScribo, we teach you some basic Spanish grammar ideas to form sentences in Spanish.

Simplify your writing

You don’t want to put the cart before the horse. To become fluent in Spanish, the essential thing is not to over-complicate your writing. It doesn’t matter if there are many short sentences in a paragraph, the important thing is that they are well written and, from there, little by little you will improve.

Main structure of the simple sentence

Learn it by heart: SUBJECT + PREDICATE = SIMPLE SENTENCE. For example, Juan viene al cine (Juan is coming to the cinema). The subject is the main element as it is the one who performs the action. The predicate includes the action being performed and the context.

Identify each part of the subject

In a simple sentence the subject is usually a person or persons, or a noun accompanied by another element, for example:

  • Juan e Inés: two proper nouns.
  • La casa (The house): determiner and common noun.
  • El coche azul (The blue car): determiner, common noun, and adjective.

Identify each part of the predicate

It may seem like an easy task, but in a compound sentence, everything gets a bit more complicated. Ideally, you should familiarise yourself with each element of the predicate, this is also a very good exercise for learning Spanish grammar. The main element of the predicate is the verb, so this is the first thing you should look for, and it is accompanied by other grammatical categories:

  • Noun, which can be common or proper: Clara tiene una moto (Clara has a motorbike).
  • Definite or indefinite articles, which usually go with the noun: Clara tiene una moto (Clara has a motorbike).
  • Pronouns, which replace the noun: vienes mañana (You come tomorrow). Instead of saying Paco, for example.
  • Adverbs, which modify the verb and give context to the predicate: Tú vienes mañana (You come tomorrow). There are different types of adverbs, but we will see them another time.
  • Prepositions: they express a relationship with other words and are undoubtedly the most difficult to put into practice. El gato estaba bajo la ropa (The cat was under the clothes).
  • Conjunctions: they link words, even sentences, in a logical order: Iré, pero más tarde (I will go, but later).
  • Adjectives: accompany nouns to give them some additional explanation: La silla bonita es la rosa (The pretty chair is the pink one).

The only key is to practise!

The theory is always the tricky part of Spanish grammar. We know that experience is everything in this life, so practice non-stop, and never give up, it’s the best way to learn how to create simple sentences in Spanish. Remember to start with simple structures and, if you want to know if you are doing it right, use iScribo text editor. May the words be with you!

Writing in Spanish

5 Rules to Learn the Use of Commas in Spanish

The use of commas in Spanish is not an easy task to perform, in fact, many Spanish speakers find it difficult to use them correctly. People often worry if they are using commas correctly, but if your answer is ‘sometimes’, we recommend you to read this guide to learn a little about when to use a comma in Spanish.

Let’s start with the basics: punctuation marks

The comma is a punctuation mark (,) that usually indicates a short pause in a sentence. Now, learn some rules to use it properly and master the comma in Spanish grammar.

Rule 1: Never use a comma between subject and verb

Yes, you heard it right. This is a very common mistake when translating from English to Spanish as it is frequently used in English. As the Fundéu says, this is a criminal comma.

Rule 2: Use a comma after a vocative

A vocative is a noun that we use to call or name the speaker. Don’t forget to use the comma even if it is a short sentence: Hola, Pedro, te echo de menos (Hey, Pedro, I miss you).

Rule 3: Use a comma after an interjection

Interjections are words that are used to express feelings, reactions or sounds that we want to imitate. It is very important not to forget the comma in these cases: Ay, me he hecho daño en la pierna (Ouch, I hurt my leg).

Rule 4: Use a comma to separate elements of the same sentence

This is perhaps one of the easiest rules of punctuation, but… It’s also tricky! Never use a comma when the elements are complete in a sentence, as the last element is introduced by a conjunction (y, e, o, u, ni): No le gusta el fútbol, el baloncesto ni el tenis (He doesn’t like football, basketball or tennis).

Rule 5: Use a comma when circumstantial complements precede the verb

This rule applies to simple sentences unless they are very short: En esos campos de pasto, los días eran idílicos (In those grassy fields, the days were idyllic), but En tu casa no puedo dormir (I can’t sleep in your house). Note that if what precedes the verb is any other complement, such as direct, indirect, regulative, etc., a comma should never be used: Muy contento estás tú (I can tell you feel very happy).

How difficult is to use punctuation marks!

Yes, we know. Punctuation marks, particularly the use of commas, are among the most difficult elements of a language to master. But, if you do manage to master them, along with prepositions, you can consider yourself a bilingual Spanish speaker. Don’t give up! iScribo is here for you to improve your writing while learning Spanish grammar properly.

Improving language

The ultimate team to write better in Spanish

iScribo is an innovative project which seeks to fill the language gap between English and Spanish.

Technology has the power to improve our lives, that is why iScribo uses AI to offer a strong, easy to use and accurate Spanish text editor. Keep reading to learn how these professionals from different fields came together to deliver a user-friendly text editor driven by Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing. 

Who is behind iScribo?

Claudia Gerhartz is co-founder and the CEO of iScribo, she is British Colombian. This may give you a clue as to why Claudia decided to embark on the project! Not only as a lawyer, but as a bilingual speaker, she knows better than anyone the problems behind having to write texts or even emails in different languages. She has worked in her profession with British clients doing business in Spain and Latin America. Due to her profession and the interaction with people from different backgrounds, she has witnessed first-hand the difficulties experienced by those doing business in countries where they are not in their first language and having to compose letters or perform presentations. 

Claudia advised companies wishing to open new markets in Latin America but lacking the necessary language skills, and also seen British families having a second home in Spain or Latin America, struggling with the Spanish language.

Timothy Straker is Non-Executive Director of iScribo. Timothy is also conscious that writing clearly, with good grammar, increases the chance of communicating better. His impressive experience counts as well when advising on elections and related matters in multiple jurisdictions around the world. He graduated from Cambridge University and has worked across many different countries and cultures.

William Shacklock, Business Development for iScribo, is the third member of the core and heart of our project. With a BA in Economics from Manchester University and decades of experience in business development and finance for international companies, William works as a corporate finance consultant in the UK and abroad. Through his own experiences, he understands the importance of smooth communication, no matter whether you are native or working in your second language.

But, who else believes in this ambitious project?

The process of creation of iScribo involved a group of computer engineering and IT experts, a team of linguists, a journalist, a UX experience adviser, a graphic designer, and marketing professionals.

As you can see, we rely on the best experts in each field in order to develop a competent tool that meets the demands of users who need to improve their Spanish grammar. One of the main values shared by all the professionals who are part of this team is that we believe that better communication is possible if we combine all the human skills with artificial intelligence, and that is how we created the magic of this text editor!

Related: [We would add the link to another article of the blog]

What an adventure!

It took a year and a half to create our platform! We’d love to say it was all plain sailing, but we all know that the best things in life take time to work out and perfect. We dealt with many ups and downs and changes to create the product we have today. 

Imagine that in order to make iScribo work, all our experts had to give their opinion and thus bring together all the advice and experience to make the platform work perfectly. We have exposed the product to the comments of professionals with the aim of improving the user experience and, we have introduced it to our family and friends. We now introduce it to you in the hope that with your comments we can make corrections and enhancements to create a better product.

iScribo is proud to be the first choice of Spanish writers and students that want to improve their Spanish language skills. Our commitment to innovation gives you the confidence that your writing won’t let you down. A good Spanish text editor will be a valuable piece of your equipment to work and study, allowing you to deal with the challenges that writing presents. Whatever the text you have in mind, iScribo is here to meet your needs.

Free Trial until 30 September 2021: Our subscription programme does not start until 1 October 2021. So, as long as you provide us with a feedback you can use our site for free until noon 30 September 2021 (GMT)