Spanish accent marks
Spanish accent marks (tilde) are written over the vowel of the stressed syllable.
- 1.General accent rules
- 1.1.Words ending in -vowel, -n or -s
- 1.1.1.Accent on the last syllable
- 1.1.2.Accent on the penultimate syllable
- 1.1.3.Accent on the third to last syllable
- 1.2.Spanish diphthongs, triphthongs, hiatus
- 1.2.1.Accent on diphthongs
- 1.2.2.Accent on thriphthongs
- 1.2.3.Accent on hiatus
- 1.3.Spanish homonyms
- 1.4.Spanish interrogative words
- 1.5.Spanish demonstrative pronouns
- 2.1.Spanish written accent practice quiz
General accent rules
There are 5 rules which will help you to know where to put the accent mark in a word:
- Words ending in -vowel, -n or -s
- Spanish diphthongs, triphthongs, hiatus
- Spanish homonyms
- Spanish interrogative words
- Spanish demonstrative pronouns
Remember to study the different word types to get a more in-depth knowledge of the Spanish stress rules.
1. Words ending in -vowel, -n or -s
Spanish words need the accent mark depending on the word's last letter and on the stressed vowel.
Accent on the last syllable
If a word ends in -vowel, -n or -s and the accent falls on the last syllable, you have to write the accent mark.
|vowel||Jabalí (ja-ba-li) - wild boar|
|-n||Jabón (ja-bon) - soap|
|-s||Inglés (in-gles) - English|
|-other letter||abril (a-bril)- april|
Accent on the penultimate syllable
If a word doesn't end in -vowel, -n or -s and the accent falls on the penultimate syllable, you have to write the accent mark.
|vowel||casa (ca-sa)- house|
|-n||comen (co-men)- they eat|
|-s||martes (mar-tes)- tuesday|
árbol (ár-bol)- tree
lápiz (lá-piz)- matita
Accent on the third to last syllable
If the accent falls on the third to last syllable, you must always write the accent mark, no matter of the ending.
- cómodo (cómodo)- comfortable
- estómago (e-stó-ma-go)-stomach
2. Spanish diphthongs, triphthongs, hiatus
Diphthongs, triphthongs and hiatus are different kinds of adjacent vowels' combinations.
Accent on diphthongs
The sequence of two vowels in one syllable can create a diphthong. In the Spanish language, diphtongs are made by the following combinations of strong (a,e, o) and weak (i,u) vowels:
- strong stressed vowel + weak unstressed vowel
- weak unstressed vowel + strong stressed vowel
- two weak vowels
With diphtongs, accentuation rules do not change but, in the case of a two weak vowels diphthong, the mark must always falls on the 'i'.
- avión- plane
- bueno- good
- cuídate- take care of you
Accent on thriphthongs
The thriphthongs is a sequence of three vowels. In the Spanish language, it is made by a combination of unstressed weak vowel + stressed strong vowel + unstressed weak vowel.
On Spanish thriphthongs, the accent mark always falls on the strong vowel.
- limpiáis- you clean (2°plural, present indicative)
- iniciéis- you start (2°plural, present subjunctive)
Accent on hiatus
We have a hiatus when two adjacent vowels do not originate a unique syllable. Spanish hiatus is created by:
- two identical vowels
- two strong vowels
- weak stressed syllable + strong unstressed syllable
- strong unstressed syllable + weak stressed syllable
For case 1 and 2, you have to follow the general accentuation rules, while for case 3 and 4 remember to always write the accent mark on the weak vowel.
- león- (le-ón)- lion
- caído- (ca-í-do)-fallen: according to general rules, we should not have the mark because the word ends in -vowel, but we have it because the stressed syllable is within a hiatus.
3. Spanish homonyms
The use of accents can change the meaning of words.
- solo (adjective: alone) VS sólo (adverb: only)
- el (masculine article: the) VS él (subject pronoun: he)
- mas (conjuction: but) VS más (adverb: more)
4. Spanish interrogative words
Interrogative words always have an accent mark:
- ¿Quién? (Who?)
- ¿Qué? (What? / Which?)
- ¿Dónde? (Where?)
- ¿Cuándo? (When?)
- ¿Por qué? (Why?)
- ¿Cómo? (How?)
- ¿Cuál? (Which?)
- ¿Cuánto? (How much/many?)
- ¿Dónde vives? (Where do you live?)
- No sé qué hacer. (I don't know what to do.)
There is no accent mark when these words are used as a pronoun.
- La chica que acaba de irse es su novia. (The girl who has just left is his girlfriend.)
- La ciudad donde vive Pablo es muy bonita. (The city where Pablo lives is very beautiful.)
5. Spanish demonstrative pronouns
The use of accents on demonstrative pronouns (this one, that one) differentiate them from the demonstrative adjectives (this –, that –).
No quiero comprar este libro, prefiero ése. (I don't want to buy this book. I prefer that one)
However, the neuter pronouns do not carry the accent marks: esto, eso, aquello.
Estoy cansada. Por eso me voy a la cama. (I am tired. So, I’m going to bed.)
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Elena is an excellent teacher and a very nice person. I have been training in Spanish with Elena for quite some time now after her being recommended to me by a friend, and have consistently been very pleased with our lessons. While I do not consider myself to be very good at learning foreign languages, Elena is very patient and adapts the lessons to my ability, making me feel at ease. In fact, I find her to be extremely skilled at assessing exactly where I am at any given time with respect to my individual learning situation, and structuring the lessons accordingly. I think I probably would have given up trying to learn Spanish had I not began my study with Elena; and that would have been a shame considering where I am now with the language. Because of Elena's skilled help, I am extremely pleased to not only be conversant in basic Spanish, but also have confidence that I will one day reach full proficiency with the language. No other learning method I tried before meeting Elena compares to the one-on-one, personalized instruction I receive from her, which comprises reading; writing; developmental exercises; and most importantly, conversation. To be able to look at Spanish now and have it appear largely familiar is extremely satisfying. I even plan to study Italian with Elena after reaching my desired level in Spanish. These are not things I ever imagined would occur at the beginning stages of my studies. I am a native English speaker and find Elena's English to be excellent. She had no difficulty instructing me from the very beginning levels where it was necessary that a lot of English be spoken in our lessons, to where we are now with much less English being spoken. The friend who recommended Elena to me learned Dutch from her, and is equally pleased with their experience. I would not hesitate to learn from Elena any of the languages she teaches. I give Elena my highest recommendations and thank her for all the help she has provided me.
Thank you for your feedback, Brandon! I am very happy to know that you are so satisfied with the lessons. I've always believed that you could make it and I am glad that we never gave it up. The right attitude and a high level of perseverance have been the keys to your success. It has been a pleasure to be your guide in your learning process. I know that you can do much more, so let's continue towards a next level!
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Again a lesson full of fun anf full of learning opportunities. I really like Angels patience and ability to adapt to my learning process.
This student is one of the best ones I ever had in my long teaching career. She is always so diligent and willing to learn more and more. I am so happy to work with her and see the immense progress she has made since we first started working together. Thank you Silke!
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Dear Anita, Thank you very much for your nice review! I enjoy our lessons very much too and I am so happy that our communication and chemistry fit well together. That's the best precondition for a good learning experience. See you soon!
We are an Italian family residing in France for 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the children two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with the choice. Nous sommes une famille italienne résidant en France depuis janvier, nous avons deux enfants de 10 ans qui viennent de commencer la CM1. Nous avons demandé à Natalia de leur donner deux leçons par semaine pour accélérer leur apprentissage. Nous sommes super contents de Natalia. We are an Italian family living in France since 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the kids two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with this choice.
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Dear Hilde, thank you very much for your words. I'm glad you are satisfied with our time together. I will continue to do my best to make you practice your beautiful Italian in a cheerful and peaceful way :-)
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She started the class with some "games" to get to know eachother and then we discussed about an article she provided. The time of the class passed really fast and I learned new vocabulary.
Thank you so much, Remark! I´m happy to know you enjoyed our lesson and I´m looking forward to having more in the near future! Cheers!
Ekaterina writes new words and sentences learnt during the lesson. She has got a very nice attitude and great accent! A pleasure to work with... yes, even in German!!!!!
Dear Silvia, thank you very much for your feedback! It's a real pleasure to have classes with you, and I hope you find them useful!