Accents and accentuation

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Accents and Accentuation

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In Spanish, the accent only has the task of indicating the emphasis of a word. The accent does not change the pronunciation of the vowel carrying the accent.

The rules for accentuation are relatively simple:

Rule Accentuation Example
Words emphasized on the penultimate syllable and ending in a vowel, a -n or -s. no accent España



Words emphasized on the penultimate syllable and ending in a consonant except -n or -s. an accent cil



Words emphasized on the last syllable and ending in a consonant except -n or -s no accent calor



Words that are emphasized on the last syllable and end in a vowel, a -n or a -s. an accent Pe




Words emphasized on the third or fourth last syllable always an accent lámpara



The following words deviate from these rules::

Words with a hiato
(hiato = if the i or u is emphasized, this is indicated by an accent and in this case the vowels are pronounced separately)


tío, día, oí, país, freír, tenía, caí, baúl, oí

Question words, as well as indirect questions

¿Cómo estás?How you doing?

¿Cuál es tu coche?Which car is yours?

¿Cuáles son tus problemas?What are your problems?

¿Por qué no quieres hablar?Why don’t you want to talk?

Vera no dice qué le pasaVera doesn’t say what’s wrong with her.

Julia pregunta quién más viene al cineJulia asks who’s coming to the movies.

Exclamation words

¡Qué lindo!How pretty

¡Cuánto te odio!How much I hate you

¡Cómo os lo agradezco!How grateful I am to you all

– Derived adverbs, provided that the adjective also has an accent.

cortés – cortésmente

rápido – rápidamente

único – únicamente

Some words have a meaning-distinguishing function through the setting of the accent

mí – mi – me/mine

más – mas – more – however

té – te Tea/you

pérdida – perdida Loss – lost (fem.)