Spanish Grammer: Contractions

The English language has a long list of contractions (you'd, don't, we'll, etc, etc.). Spanish has only two: al and del. When the prepositions a or de precede the definite article el, the two words combine to form a contraction. These two contractions are a way of shortening in writing what is naturally shortened verbally. If you try to pronounce a + el and de + el separately, you'll see that they naturally flow together.

a + el = al

In Spanish a + el is always contracted into al. Consider the following examples.

Are you going to the zoo today?
¿Van al parque zoológico hoy?
(a + el = al)
They are going to the park over there.
Van al parque allá.
(a + el = al)

de + el = del

The Spanish prepositions de + el are always contracted into del. Consider the following examples.

This is the house of the mean boy.
Esta es la casa del chico malo.
(de + el = del)
Is the book the professor's?
¿El libro es del profesor?
No, the book is the professor's.
No, el libro es de la profesora.