I'm now learning this wonderful song be Celia Cruz named La Negra Tiene Tumba'o

I've read the following about adding 'ao' to the ending of Spanish words:

The 'ao' at the end of some of the words is simply a shortened form of 'ado,' the ending of a past participle:

encontrao = encontrado

apretao = apretado

For others, it is used as a rhyming mechanism, but happens to also be how many people pronounce the words and the spelling follows suit:

lao = lado (side - de lao = 'sideways')

melao = melado (honey color - could also mean honey and a form of speaking or language)

Is there a Native speaker that can co-sign on the above?

Also, being that the late and great Celia Cruz was Cuban, is this something that is common only by Cuban Spanish speakers?

1 Answer 1


The pronunciation of -ado as /áo/ or even /áu/ is very common throughout Cuba and the entire Spanish-speaking world. It happens to a lesser extent with other vowel-D-vowel combinations, mostly word-finally but occasionally elsewhere, too like in cantaor(a) or aonde.

The sound that the D makes in Spanish in between vowels is very weak, and in some dialects you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who pronounces the D outside of very careful speech.

At the moment, you'll hear D enough, though, that no one is going to do a spelling change, but there is clear precedence for it happening. The vos(otros) form for -ar verbs used to be -ades (still seen in some poetry when it fits the rhyme better), but it quickly became closer to ayes/ayis/áïs and then áis (thence ái or ás for modern voseo).

  • 6
    And when the two vowels are the same, they are often shortened to one in relaxed pronunciation: nada becomes na, todo becomes to, and puede becomes pue.
    – Yay
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 19:55
  • @Yay OMG, more complication for the Spanish learner. Hahaa! I hope to one day have my ears trained for this. :) Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 21:27
  • 2
    @RockAnthony I'm sure you will! Just keep in mind dropping the "d", especially when that reduces the word by one syllable, may be seen as too informal or out of place in certain contexts. Regional differences also play an important role, but in general terms I'd recommend not doing it unless you hear other people do it too.
    – Yay
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 1:17
  • 2
    The word hoosegow for ‘prison’ is said to come from Spanish juzgado ‘judged’. Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 3:24
  • 1
    Changing -ido for -ío is also very common.
    – Senyu
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 10:56

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