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Es "número de teléfono" pero "tarjeta telefónica". ¿Cómo puedo decidir qué forma es (más) correcta?

It's "Número de teléfono", but "Tarjeta telefónica". How can I tell which word is more appropriate. What actually is the difference between these words?
When searching the Internet, I only find much more examples, but no explanation when to use which one.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Teléfono is a noun. Telefónico is its corresponding adjective. Since tarjeta is feminine, you say tarjeta telefónica for telephone card.

Número de teléfono, on the other hand, means just telephone number. But numero telefónico is perfectly acceptable. So both are correct, if that was your question. Maybe the last option sounds slightly more formal. Anyway, when the context is clear you don't even need both words:

¿Puedo tener tu número?


¿Me das tu teléfono?

are both asking for a phone number. In the last sentence, it's obvious that your interlocutor won't give you the phone itself, but his/her number.

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I guess if my dictionary provides "el telefónico" this is a substantive derived from the adjective? – Em1 Dec 28 '13 at 11:20
@Em1 whose word translation is "el telefónico"? It could be "el (número) telefónico" as in this conversation: "– ¿Me das tu número? –¿Cuál? –El telefónico." But it could be also the bill: "– ¿Ya pagaste el recibo? –¿Cuál? –El telefónico." – c.p. Dec 28 '13 at 11:39

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