Do you want to learn how to tell any address in Spanish? You should! No matter how many mobile apps we use, remembering directions should still be a common habit, especially for those traveling in unfamiliar countries. It can save you from trouble in case you don’t have internet access, or you don’t have a map nearby.
A friend of mine traveled to Panama for a few days. His Spanish vocabulary was limited, and, of course, he didn’t even know about addresses in Panama. My friend needed a taxi driver to take him to his destination, an Airbnb. However, he couldn’t connect to the internet, he didn’t have a picture of the address or place, and he couldn’t remember where it was!
Knowing the structure of an address and some basic words will help you understand how people find their way in Hispanic countries.
This article is an overview of the addresses in Spanish, taking into account that it will be a little different in each Hispanic country.
Let’s start with the most basic information!
What Is The Word For ‘Address’ In Spanish?
Before understanding addresses, let’s learn this new term in Spanish.
The singular form is ‘dirección,’ and the plural form is ‘direcciones.’
Listen to the pronunciations below:
The word ‘dirección’ means action and effect of guiding or signaling to identify a place. It comes from the Latin term ‘directio,’ which is composed of the prefix di-/dis (separation by multiple routes), the root of the verb ‘regere’ (direct, straight), and the suffix ‘tio’ (equivalent to ‘ción’ in Spanish and ‘tion’ in English.)
How To Ask For An Address Or Answer Yours?
Now you should learn some essential phrases to ask someone their address or how to tell them your home address.
See the examples below:
A: ¿Cuál es tu dirección? (What is your address?)
B: Mi dirección es… (My address is …)
This question requires you to answer your full address as they are directly asking you about it.
A: ¿En dónde vives? (Where do you live?)
B: Vivo en … (I live in…)
How To Write An Address In Spanish?
1. Main And Secondary Streets (Calle Principal Y Secundaria)
The most important part of the address is the street in which the house is located. We will always use the main street at the beginning, followed by the secondary road next to it.
- av. de los Shyris y Suecia
- Add ‘y’ (and) to let the other person know you are also providing the secondary street address.
When writing a personal or public address, remember that the names of the streets are proper nouns that must be capitalized. On the contrary, the generic nouns ‘street,’ or ‘avenue,’ can be written in lower case.
A fun fact about street names in Spain and Latin American Spanish-speaking countries is that you will often find streets with the name of a person, most likely a historical figure that positively impacted the region.
In fact, sometimes, the person’s family members buy the right to have their family member’s name in the street to pay respect.
In addition, you can also find streets that have only numbers as a name. In Ecuador, that would be mainly highways that connect with other provinces, for example:
Avenida (Avenue): An avenue is a wide street, with both sides of circulation, that usually has trees on the sides or in the middle in a division sector with grass.
Calle (Street): It comes from the Latin word ‘callis,’ which can be translated as ‘path.’ The street is an urban space that allows transport circulation and gives access to the buildings or lots located on the road’s sides.
Paseo: It is pretty standard in Spain, where you will often hear addresses that include streets, paseos, and plazas, and not so many avenues or highways. Paseo can be translated as ‘walk,’ and it is named this because they are large and beautiful streets where people can only walk or use bicycles while enjoying the view. An example is the Paseo La Explanada de Alicante, Spain.
Plaza (Square): Plaza is a spacious place inside a town, famous in urban planning, where people can walk. It often has parks, or it is simply a vast space surrounded by buildings and several streets. If a building is next to a plaza, it is common to see the word ‘plaza’ or its abbreviation ‘pza’ on the address.
Ordinals – Street Numbers And House Numbers (Ordinales – Números De Calles Y De Casas)
Why do the houses, buildings, and streets have numbers? The ordinals in the address need to be as clear as possible for the police, fire department, paramedics, and other entities to find the location with no problem in emergency cases.
It is a helpful reference to ensure the place is in the correct location. In addition, many streets may have duplicated names in the same country, so having numbers will help you differentiate between them.
House numbers are essential. In my case, my house doesn’t have a number assigned, so there is no number outside our door where it should be. So every time I give my location, I need to offer extra information, including a reference for the surrounding area.
Neighborhood, Sector, Canton (Barrio, Sector, Cantón)
After you state the streets and numbers, you can opt to add even more detail, such as the name of your neighborhood, the sector in which your house is located, and ‘cantón’ (canton). These are helpful if you are in a big city.
So what is a canton? Some countries may know it as a district and others as a canton. These are small territorial divisions inside a country’s province. For example, in the province of Pichincha, in Ecuador, there are eight cantons, including ‘Cantón Quito’, which covers its capital territory, Quito.
For instance, there are two small valleys next two each other, located thirty minutes away from Quito. One of them is still ‘Cantón Quito,’ while the other one is ‘Cantón Rumiñahui.’ If you happen to live in the middle of both, you would want to know which canton your house belongs to.
Additionally, a neighborhood and sector are much smaller regions that refer to the surrounding area of your house.
You can omit the city, in Spanish ‘Ciudad,’ if you are giving directions to someone living in the same town, so it is already evident that you are talking about the same area.
However, you can add it if you need to specify that your address is in a different city.
A province is an administrative division within a country. In Ecuador, for instance, it is formed by the union of two or more cantons.
Provinces are also common in Spain, Italy, and France and represent significant territories in the country. They are the lower level after the nation or kingdom.
Adding the province to the address is especially helpful when you provide it for international purposes. It is quite common in some Latin American countries, and probably worldwide, to find the exact address in different places of the same country. So to avoid mistakes, it would be best to specify province, city, and even canton or sector.
Postal Code (Código Postal)
A postal code is not obligatory in an address unless your purpose is to send or receive packages. They are a set of numbers designated to every area or region of a country to facilitate postal services.
In some Hispanic countries, the postal service is not as advanced as what you can see in The United States, and some countries may not even have it available. The government recently implemented a postal code in Ecuador, making everything so much easier.
As I previously explained, Latin American locations are pretty tricky to understand. It is often required to let the other person know a reference.
For example, whenever I order something to eat through the phone, I try to give a detailed explanation of what stores, buildings, or any other landmark is close by to avoid problems. Homes in rural places and a bit further from the rush of a city are usually those harder to find.
Bonus: A Few Phrases For Getting Around In Spanish-speaking Countries
- ¿Cuál es la dirección de tu hotel? (What is your hotel’s address?)
- ¿Cuál es tu nueva dirección? (What is your new address?)
- Debe poner la dirección en el paquete antes de enviarlo. (You have to put the address in the envelope before sending it.)
- Por favor envíe la carta a la siguiente dirección. (Please send the letter to the following address.)
- Esta es mi dirección de casa. (This is my home address.)
- ¿Cuál es tu domicilio electoral? (What is your voting address?)
- Se está usted dirigiendo hacia el centro de la ciudad. (You are heading towards the center of the city.)
- ¿Dónde está tu casa? (Where is your house?)
- ¿Cuál es el nombe de ésta calle? (What is the name of this street?)
- Mi amiga ya no vive en esta casa. (This isn’t my friend’s address anymore.)
To talk about email addresses in Spanish:
The same term ‘dirección’ is used to describe an email address and website address in Spanish. So you will often use the same term whenever someone asks you about your contact details.
- ¿Cuál es tu dirección de correo electrónico? (¿What is your e mail address?)
- ¿Cuál es tu dirección de página web? (What is your web address?)
- ¿Puede por favor darme su nombre y dirección de correo electrónico? (Can you please give me your name and email address?)
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