Spanish accents

Introduction

Spanish accents can only be written over the five vowels a, e, i, o, u. So they will become á,é,í,ó,ú. Spanish has only one type of accent written from left to right ´. We use them to stress some letter or syllable.
If you need more info about alphabet and pronunciations check our article here.
 

Stress rules

Before continue talking about accents first need to talk about stress rules.  stress is when a particular syllable or syllables in a word are emphasized when speaking. Usually, this means the syllable is pronounced louder and longer than its neighbors. So for example in English word present can be pronounced on two different ways depending on pronunciation meaning of the word is changed:

pre-sent – gift, like Christmas gift

pre-sent – to present something like to present a case on trial

Similar problems can happen in Spanish.



Syllables

Sometimes is hard to notice syllables in Spanish word. Generally, when a vowel isn’t next to another vowel, it forms its own separate syllable: ha-blo

But when we have two vowels in a row, then is a problem. The vowels ae, and o are considered in Spanish to be the strong vowels. i and u are the weak vowels. Two strong vowels in a row are considered to be two separate syllables: cre-o

A strong vowel with a weak vowel, or two weak vowels together, is considered a single syllable: ha-cia
 

Spanish accents rules

You should memorize two basic stress rules in Spanish:

First Spanish accents rule: words ending in a vowel, n, or s.

In this words, the stress is on the next to last syllable.

camisa ca-mi-sa shirt
todo to-do all
inteligente in-te-li-gen-te smart
joven jo-ven young
zapatos za-pa-tos shoes
Second Spanish accents rule: words ending in a consonant (except n,s)

In this words, the stress falls on the last syllable.

beber be-ber to drink
profesor pro-fe-sor professor
reloj re-loj watch
animal a-ni-mal animal
comer co-mer to eat

Adding accents

When we need to break rules stated before accents come into the game. For first rule we are breaking it in following examples:

habitación hab-i-ta-cion room
jamás ja-mas never
está es-ta to-be(estar) 3rd person present

Here pronunciation changed to the last syllable as we added accent. Here are some examples of the second spanish accents rule:

lápiz la-piz pencil
xilófono xi-lo-fo-no xylophone
árbol ar-bol tree

In conclusion, an acute accent means that the word is an exception to the rules of Spanish word stress.



Questions

When using this words as questions always use an accent. That is a short explanation. In other cases, when they are used in a sentence like as pronouns etc. never put accent. In this article, we will not go more detail in rules as it will become too complicated. Just following this short explanation you will write 95% correct.

  • ¿Dónde? (Where?)
  • ¿Por qué? (Why?)
  • ¿Qué? (What? / Which?)
  • ¿Quién? (Who?)
  • ¿Cuál? (Which?)
  • ¿Cuándo? (When?)
  • ¿Cuánto? (How much/many?)
  • ¿Cómo? (How?)

Note that in this words accent doesn’t change prononcuation. They are pronounced same no matter they have accent or no.

Example:

  • ¿Qué sabes? (what do you know?)
  • Yo se que tu padre no te quiere conmigo (I know that your father does not love you with me)

 

Other usage

Spanish accent is also used when it makes no difference to the sound. This happens when you want to distinguish one word from another:

el = the él = he
tu = your tú = you
si = if sí = yes
mi = my mí = me
se = reflexice pronoun sé = I know
te = you (object pronoun) té = tea
de = of, from dé = give

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Marko Vucak Author

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