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.
2. The stress falls on the last syllable for a word ending in a consonant other than -n or -s.
Any deviation from the above rules requires a written accent, which indicates where the stress falls while pronouncing the word.
*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)