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Registro linguístico

Spanish language registers

In Spanish, as in many other languages, we adapt the type and style of language we use depending on the setting, the medium, the topic and who we are talking to. This is known as different registers. We will use a different register when we are at the bank, the doctor's, in a conference, or chatting with a close friend. 

The speaker will bear in mind vocabulary, syntax and length of sentences, the use of idioms and even intonation and pronunciation, when speaking in a certain register. 

Spanish language registers are divided into 2 categories that can be further subdivided:

1. Registro formal

In a formal register we use well-constructed sentences, with a variety of vocabulary. This is usually in situations where the speakers do not have a close relationship.


(Standard) This follows linguistic norms and it is considered the ideal register to use in most situations. This register is often used in media or in the classroom, for example. 


(Cultivated) Here language is more ordered, precise and perfect. This register is used in technology and scientific articles and some literary texts, for example.

Some examples of formal register:

Debido a los sucesos acontecidos la noche del pasado martes, el alcalde se verá obligado a tomar medidas cautelares, entre las cuales se encuentra el no permitir la apertura de establecimientos de carácter social una vez pasada la medianoche.

Due to the events that occurred last Tuesday, the mayor will be forced to take precautionary  measures among which is the closure of social establishments after midnight. 

Señores, espero tengan ustedes en cuenta mi valiosa experiencia profesional en el sector.
Gentlemen, I hope you take into account my valuable professional experience in the sector. 

La estequiometría es el cálculo de las relaciones cuantitativas entre los reactivos y productos en el transcurso de una reacción química.
Stoichiometry is the calculation of the quantitative relationships between reagents and products during the course of a chemical reaction. 

Abran sus libros por la página 38 donde podrán ver los resultados del ejercicio.
Open your books at page 38 where you will be able to see the results of the exercise.


2. Registro informal

In an informal register, the language is more relaxed by comparison to the formal register; it is used between people who are close or who have a certain familiarity and it is mainly used in spoken Spanish. It does not always follow expected syntax rules. 


(colloquial) This is more spontaneous than formal registers, more expressive and uses shorter sentences. This is the register used between close friends, classmates etc. It is expressive and often uses exclamations, interjections and some idioms.


This register is not organized, it does not follow linguistic norms and it often contains rude or vulgar words that would not be used in other registers.

Informal register examples:

¡Maldito seas!
Damn you! 

¡Quillo, qué pasa!
Dude, what's up? 

¡No te pases, tío!
Don't push it, buddy! 

Mira, que te iba a preguntar una cosa, ¿me haces un favor?
Look, I wanted to ask you something, can you do me a favour? 

Qué maja es la Cristina, ¿verdad?
Cristina is lovely, isn't she?