Accent Marks in Spanish – Grammar Tip

Spanish Grammar Tip

Spanish Accent Marks. The Spanish language, like many others, is one where all words are stressed, that is, when speaking some syllables are pronounced with more intensity than others. Therefore, two words can be differentiated from each other because we pronounce them with an accent on different syllables.

artículo (article)

articulo (I articulate)

articuló (I articulated)

This is the reason why some languages, including Spanish, graphically mark the accent in their written form since it allows to identify the correct word among multiple homographs (words with the same spelling) in addition to determine which syllable must be stressed thus improving one’s own speaking skills.

In Spanish there is only one type of accent, called tilde (´), which is placed on the vowel of the stressed syllable.

It should be noted that even words written in capital letters are spelt with an accent, e.g., música or MÚSICA.

Based on the position of the stressed syllable, Spanish words are classified as aguda, llana, esdrújula and sobresdrújula.

 

AGUDAaccent on last syllable
LLANAaccent on second to last syllable
ESDRÚJULAaccent on third to last syllable
SOBRESDRÚJULAaccent on syllable before the third to last one

Accent Marks: Aguda

Aguda-words have a tilde if they end with:

– a vowel → menú, sofá

– consonants –n or –s preceded by a vowel → también, violín, autobús

Accent Marks: Llana

Llana-words are accented if they end with:

– any consonant other than -n or -s: árbol, césped, cráter

Spanish Accent Marks: Esdrújula and Sobredrújula

Words that are stressed on the third to last syllable or any syllable before that (esdrújula and sobredrújula, respectively) always carry a graphic accent, e.g., atmósfera, gramática, cómetelas, pásamelo.

Adverbs ending in -mente, which are mostly sobresdrújula-words, are accented as if the compound adverbs did not have the suffix -mente:

numérico (numerical)  → numéricamente (numerically)

ágil (agile) → ágilmente (agilely)


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