Take the 2-minute tour ×
Spanish Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Spanish language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As far as I know, those two are the only exceptions. Is there a particular reason for this?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It doesn't matter if you use "San" or "Santo". Edit: Diccionario Panhispánico de dudas says that "Santo" must be used with Domingo, Tomás, Tomé and Toribio. (Thanks Gonzalo Medina for pointing this out)

The reason to prefer to use "Santo" is to avoid confusion in oral speech. Quoting a WordReference thread:

Technically, any male saint, or "santo", could be called "Santo", and it would not be strictly wrong (although it would be very uncommon) to say "Santo Pedro" or "Santo Juan". However, the custom for male saints is to abbreviate the title "Santo" to "San".

The exception to this rule is when the first syllable of the name is "To" or "Do". Under those circumstances, if one said "San Tomás", it would be unclear whether the man's name was Tomás or just "Mas" -- because you could be saying "Santo Mas". In the same way, if you said "San Domingo", it would sound very much like "Santo Mingo", and again confusion would result.

share|improve this answer
4  
The Diccionario panhispánico de dudas: buscon.rae.es/dpdI/SrvltGUIBusDPD?lema=santo says that only santo must be used for Domingo, Tomás, Tomé, and Toribio. –  Gonzalo Medina Jan 16 '12 at 0:31
    
Thanks @GonzaloMedina, I've updated my answer. –  dusan Jan 16 '12 at 0:52
    
On the other hand, it's a silly rule. What if they invented another saint called "Toño" (or you want to called that way a "Antonio"), "Tobaldo" or "Tontolín". You keep the same problem with the pronuntiation as in "Tomás" or "Toribio". As native speaker, I would say "Santo Tobaldo", "Santo Toño" y "Santo Tontolín" cause sound better, but "San Tontolín" is not bad either. –  Ricardo Jan 16 '12 at 8:58
    
@Ricardo: every rule is silly to a certain extent and on a certain level ;-) –  Gonzalo Medina Jan 16 '12 at 18:23
    
@GonzaloMedina. So, in this case, the threshold is very low :D –  Ricardo Jan 16 '12 at 18:30

There is no rule, you can use both, "santo" or "san", but "san" is more usual. You can say "San Tomás" or "Santo Tomás", doesn't matter. Sometimes, one form is more used in some places. I have heard "San Toribio" and "Santo Toribio" also.

share|improve this answer
1  
Hmmm.... there is a rule; according to the entry for santo in the Diccionario panhispánico de dudas, Toribio and Tomás are two of the cases in which only santo must be used. –  Gonzalo Medina Jan 16 '12 at 0:26
1  
I live in a very religious country, I've heard that a lot and people use it as they want. I will check more next time. But, good to know there is a rule, being an atheist :) –  Ricardo Jan 16 '12 at 8:51
    
it's possible. I also live in a very religious country and I've never heard san Tomás; however, I agree with you: sometimes the rule and the real use are really different things ;-) –  Gonzalo Medina Jan 16 '12 at 18:25
    
Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo es un santo popular en Perú, hay un grupo llamado "Los Toribianitos" que canta canciones navideñas. Y yo vivía cerca de un colegio llamado "San Toribio", jajaja. –  Ricardo Jan 16 '12 at 21:53

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.