Today I saw a bus stop advertisement that read

$5 pesos hacen la diferencia.

enter image description here

Is this proper form? In English, that would be incorrect and redundant. "$5 dollars" would read as "5 dollars dollars" (or "$5 pesos" would be "5 pesos pesos", etc). Correct form would be either simply "$5" or "5 dollars."

I would assume the same is true in Spanish, but on a "professional" sign like this one, it causes me to do a double-take and wonder if this form is accepted in Spanish writing.

  • 3
    Nowadays, it's not very useful to learn correct forms from "professional" things. At least in Spain, professionals are not careful anymore and you can spot grammar mistakes in signs, commercials or newspapers very often. One that I hate to read is not beginning sentences with proper opening ¡ ¿ signs, argh!
    – JoulSauron
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 11:38
  • Yes, it's common in English in the U.S., too. It drives me nuts. If I had faith in "professionals" to be correct, I wouldn't have asked this question. :)
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 2:45
  • In argentina you can find a TV show called "Antes que sea tarde". If you want to know how you must not write and speak in spanish, buy any newspaper. Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 16:11
  • Just to add an anecdote, "hacen la diferencia" is heavily influenced by the direct translation of the English "makes the difference" (make=hacer), and therefore probably widespread in the Spanish of America. In Spanish from Spain, however, the expression is "marcar la diferencia".
    – user1025
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 13:14

6 Answers 6


Is “$5 pesos” proper form in Spanish?

Yes, but it may be more common in some countries than others, also in some countries the $ symbol or the word "pesos" may be found redundant.

The $ symbol is a world accepted symbol for money (although some countries may claim ownership), the fact is that is widely used to represent a currency or money in a lot of countries. Currently there is around 10 to 15 countries that use only the $ symbol to represent their currency, also there are some other countries that will use the $ symbol plus a letter before and/or after (Australian dollar = A$).

In the case of the photo showing the phrase "$5 pesos" it is and is not redundant. Is just an old grammar rule where because the number (digit) represents a currency it must have it's symbol, the case would be different if the phrase was "cinco pesos".

Currencies http://www.nishitpatel.in/currency-names-and-symbols-of-all-countries-in-the-world/

and if curious enough just put $5 pesos in Google to see how widely is used

Update 1

There is no rule, or a grammar rule while working with currencies, every country has it's own "popular" rules as to how to write currencies, there is some widely spread rules for cheques and other bank related procedures where the person must write currencies, these will vary (not too much) from region to region.

In the case of the poster I wonder if the poster is from Mexico since it seems like a common way to write promotional adverts there.

Both ways are ok since you must apply a bit of common sence

  • $ = currency (which ? you may know or not)
  • 5 = amount
  • pesos = name of the currency

Quick note Becalos is an University or similar in Mexico, the ad is from Mexico, place where is more common to see currencies and values to be written in that way because the proximity with USA which also uses the same currency symbol and due to the fact that the country also uses both currencies or at least the use of both currencies is much more common that other Latin countries. An before somebody jumps here on that, there is some other ways to express Usa's currency like U$s / U$ or USD but the symbol more widely used still the "$"

Update 2: Here are some similar cases:

enter image description here http://sdpnoticias.com/nota/347803/Ofrecen_5_millones_de_pesos_por_PFs_que_dispararon_en_el_AICM

enter image description here http://www.omeanuncio.com/1/posts/9_AUTOS/39_Vendo_auto/28313_MASTV_TODOS_CANALES_LIBRES_YA_SIN_RENTAS_D_X_VIDA.html

enter image description here http://es-la.facebook.com/pages/Todo-a-5-y-10-pesos/120887474656557

enter image description here http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=411856328865958&set=a.170562859661974.49486.169632313088362&type=1&theater

  • 1
    This sounds like the closest to an authoritative answer I've seen so far. Do you have a reference to the (old?) rule that digits need a currency symbol?
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 16:05
  • @Flimzy I had a link to a "vague" reference, later if I found the link again I will edit the answer and post the link.
    – user983248
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 22:42
  • I would still be interested in that link if you think of it again and can find it.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 3:32
  • I downvote this because it doesn't say at all what is the correct form.
    – JoulSauron
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 8:01
  • @JoulSauron There is no rule or correct form, all forms are valid, depending on the region, it seems like in mexico for example is more common to find signs like the one the user is asking.
    – user983248
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 10:44

Yes. It would be redundant. Putting asside the fact that a dollar is not a peso (and it's something that has mistaken me in New York a lot), it would be strange seeing "5€ euros".

Actually even 5 Euros (spelling the word "Euros" out) would be a bit strange to see on a billboard (at least to me)

  • A dolar sign represent currency, it also represent the Peso and the Dollar, both currencies. ""it would be strange seeing "5€ euros"."" Thats because there is only one currency using that symbol
    – user983248
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 11:02

Remember that ads are for the masses. Yes, $5 pesos would be redundant if found in a book, but the street? People, I guess, would not mind.


Nor in spanish neither in any language, that's wrong.

The only possible aim of using the dollar symbol would be to say "Hey, this number means money/coins", not potatoes or trees. I mean, as "world-accepted-symbol-for-money"

But since they put "pesos" right after it... I imagine that advertisers may have thought that putting there that symbol people would pay more attention... Ad maybe they got it ;)


This post must not be declared as an answer, is just for clarification:

In Argentina we don't read money signs.

You are right when you say that is incorrect. The regular way to say it is (for example, a bank's check):

$ 5,01 (pesos cinco con cincuenta y un centavo)

But we always put the sign phrase after the number:

"cinco pesos con un centavo".

So because we say it in the wrong way, we read it in the wrong way and we don't care about the sign.

If you put "5 pesos" I will read "5 pesos" but if you put "$5" I will even read "5 pesos". If you put "$5 pesos" I will read "5 pesos" because is my natural way to read it.

But the rule to put it in Argentina is:

5$ (cinco pesos)

The $ before the number is a convention taked from banks and/or informatic system, because outside the Argentina the regular way is put the sign before the number. We always say and write the number after.

  • 1
    In my opinion, the question is not "proper form in Spanish", but "proper form in Argentina". It is more about the convention on how the country writes it's currency, it's time and date, and numbers, like using a comma or dot for decimals. This answer is kind of a prove about what I say. A link to a statement from an official department in Argentina on this would be great.
    – JoulSauron
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 14:03
  • That's right, so that I wrote that my answer must not to be considered as an answer, but explain it on a comment is so difficult without carrier returns. The official organization here that presides Luis Barcia is "Academia Argentina de Letras": aal.edu.ar I've the dictionary of AAL, I will look up for information about this on there. Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 15:21

The "Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas" clarifies this matter in its entry "símbolo". It's convenient to see what a "símbolo" is:

Los símbolos son abreviaciones de carácter científico-técnico y están constituidos por letras o por signos no alfabetizables.

Symbols are abbreviations. As an abbreviation is the same word made shorter. It makes no sense to use the symbol and the full word at the same time:

50 K Kelvin*

Ve al NO Noroeste.*

Pesa 5 kg kilogramos.*

Thus, it's incorrect to do the same for currencies, "$5 pesos" would be "5 pesos pesos"*.

As a side note, in the same entry we find this about monedas (currencies):

Para las monedas, el uso en España prefiere la escritura pospuesta y con blanco de separación, como es normal en el resto de los símbolos: 3 £, 50 $; en cambio, en América, por influjo anglosajón, los símbolos monetarios, cuando no son letras, suelen aparecer antepuestos y sin blanco de separación: £3, $50.

  • -1, El carácter de los símbolos no se limita solamente a técnico y científico.
    – Joe R.
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 16:43
  • Pues vaya, contradices a los académicos.
    – JoulSauron
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 17:33
  • Pues vaya, símbolos también tienen carácter linguistico, religioso, etc. etc.
    – Joe R.
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 20:58
  • Sí, por eso lo de "técnico" ;) Se refiere a un área de conocimiento concreta.
    – JoulSauron
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 21:48
  • 1
    @FrankComputer, esta respuesta es totalmente correcta, y además está documentada con una fuente más que fiable. Tu justificación para el voto negativo (una definición de la RAE que no te gusta) está totalmente fuera de lugar. Todos sabemos que "símbolo" tiene varias acepciones (gracias por la aclaración), y la RAE por supuesto también las recoge, pero aquí sólo se está hablando de la acepción número 3 (lingüística) lema.rae.es/drae/?val=s%C3%ADmbolo Respecto a "técnico", por favor repasa la segunda acepción: lema.rae.es/drae/?val=t%C3%A9cnico
    – user1025
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 10:51

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