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Spanish Rules of Accentuation

Notes:

  1. The written lesson is below.
  2. Links to quizzes, tests, etc. are to the left.

 

In Spanish many words carry a graphic accent, it is to say, a written accent mark. In Spanish we call it tilde. There will be many people who avoid the use of the tilde by all means, and will give you excuses such as “it is old style to use tildes” or “no one cares about tildes anymore”. Well, let´s just say those people don´t know that writing Spanish without tildes is the best way to tell others that you do not know Spanish. No matter what they say, if you do not learn how to use tildes in written Spanish, you cannot say you know the language.

As you can see, we have strong feelings about the use of tildes. Yes, they may seem like tiny nuisances, like pebbles in the shoe that take away the fun of your walk. At StudySpanish.com we like to pictures tildes as the beautiful trees, lakes, and flowers along the walk instead.

 

TYPES OF SYLLABLES

In order to learn accentuation in Spanish we must learn about the two types of syllables within a word: tónicas and átonas.

Tónicas are those syllables that carry the stress of the word, or the strength when pronouncing it. See the bold syllables, those are tónicas.

Mesa

Azul

Cantar

Corazón

Átonas are those syllables within the word that do not carry the stress of the word. Let´s highlight now the átonas syllables.

Mesa

Azul

Cantar

corazón

When placing tildes in Spanish words we must learn about four types of words: agudas, llanas, esdrújulas and sobresdrújulas.

PALABRAS AGUDAS

We call agudas those words in which the last syllable is the tónica. They have the stress on the last syllable.

Caracol

Verdad

Camión

Instructor

Corazón

Pintor

You may ask now why do some agudas have a tilde and some do not? Let´s wait for the accentuation rules below.

PALABRAS LLANAS

We call llanas those words in which the stress falls in the next to the last syllable.

piz

Toro

Come

Carta

bil

You probably observed again that some llanas words above do carry a tilde, and some do not. This is due to the rules of accentuation that we will explain below.

PALABRAS ESDRÚJULAS

These are words that carry the stress or the strength in the third syllable (we always count from the last syllable backwards).

Tefono

Esdrújula

Tarántula

Estula

Cómpralas

Have you noticed they all carry a tilde?

PALABRAS SOBREESDRÚJULAS

These are words in which the stress falls in the fourth or higher syllables.

metelas

Alfaticamente

Inútilmente

cómpraselas

These are all accentuated, have you noticed?

Now that we covered a few concepts we are ready to learn the ACCENTUATION RULES IN SPANISH

PALABRAS AGUDAS

Words that are agudas carry a tilde (accent mark) when they end in -n, -s or a vowel.

comió       canción       café       balón       Tomás

** Words that are agudas and come from other languages like English, that end in – s but this one is preceded by a consonant, do not carry a tilde.

Also, words that are agudas and en in -y do not carry a tilde, as y is a consonant.

PALABRAS LLANAS

Words that are llanas carry a tilde if they do not end in -n, -s or a vowel.

piz

liz

bil

Words that are llanas also carry an accent mark or tilde when they end in -s preceded by another consonant.

ceps

mics

 

PALABRAS ESDRÚJULAS

Words that are esdrújulas always carry an accent mark. This makes it easy, doesn´t it?

Menico

cántico

cántaro

esdrújula

brújula

 

PALABRAS SOBREESDRÚJULAS

Words that are sobreesdrújulas always carry an accent mark, just as the esdrújulas.

metelo

Cómpraselas

Cántasela

Now that we have learned the accentuation rules in Spanish, we must keep in mind a couple of things.

HIATOS

An hiato happens when we have a syllable that has a combination of a strong vowel (a, e, o) and a weak vowel (i, u). In these cases we always accentuate the weak vowel and they do not follow the accentuation rules that we covered above.

Huía

Raíz

Freír

María

Baúl

 

ADVERBS ENDING IN – MENTE

Adverbs ending in -mente will carry an accent mark if the original adjective carried one.

Rápido ———– pidamente
Hábil ————- bilmente
Útil —————- útilmente

Now that you are here, remember, you do not have an excuse to avoid the accentuation marks or tildes in Spanish. Uticelas!

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