Learn Spanish Accent Mark Rules

Why does Spanish have accent marks? What do they mean? You will learn how Spanish accent marks work and how to use them easily by understanding a few basic points about pronunciation and stress in Spanish.

A written accent mark in Spanish is called el acento or la tilde. When and where you use one depends largely on how a word is pronounced and where the stress falls on a word. Let’s take a look at the basic rules for Spanish pronunciation:

1. When pronouncing a word in Spanish, the natural stress falls on the second-to-last syllable for words ending in -n, -s, or a vowel.
ejemplo: tra/ba/jas

2. The stress falls on the last syllable for a word ending in a consonant other than -n or -s.
ejemplo: man/tel

Any deviation from the above rules requires a written accent, which indicates where the stress falls while pronouncing the word.
ejemplo: can/ci/ón

*A diphthong occurs when two vowels come together to form one sound. Unless otherwise indicated by a written accent, the stress falls on the strong vowel if there is one, or on the last vowel if both are weak.
Weak vowels: I, U
Strong vowels: A, E, O

Notice the difference in the following words: energía; alergia (because the ia is a diphthong in the second word, the natural stress falls on the second-to-last syllable, ie. ler)

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