Spanish accents

This post is about Spanish accents.  What are Spanish accents? Do not be confused, it is not the way people talk from region to region in Spain or Mexico. Rather I am referring to the written marks above the letters. Some people call these the Spanish funny letters.

Why another page online about Spanish accents?  Because most pages you see online are written in formal linguistic language . These pages give you too much information and therefore do not teach you.  Your brains scans it, your eyes glaze over and you do not have anything to take away. There is a difference between dumping information on you and teaching you Spanish.

My intention is to give a short simple but useful page on Spanish accent marks where you will remember two things. Why we usually use the accents on your keyboard and when we use them.

The most important Spanish accent mark

The most important accent in Spanish is ´. The full list of Spanish special marks include áéíñóúü¿¡. To set these on your computer it is easy. You need to change the language setting in Windows under control panel and languages.

However, and when I am typing e-mails I ignore these Spanish special characters.  I know linguists will cringe, but it is understood when I type using English characters and Spanish words.

Spanish accents - How many special Spanish language signs can you see in the above text?

In the above text do you see a lot of letters with accent marks over them? Maybe a couple but Spanish can function without them if you are typing a fast e-mail.

The most important and perhaps only accent in Spanish you need to know is this ´. If you know how to use this accent mark in Spanish than you are 99% there.

When to use the Spanish language accent mark

  1. Stress – more emphasis in pronunciation when it has this mark – mostly a small set of high frequency words I list below.
  2. Questions.
  3. Demonstrative pronouns.

Basically a Spanish accent mark changes the pronunciation. It is stressed more than a none marked letter. Lets look at some of the uses of ´ in specific examples. Memorizes the examples of  stress words and questions below and you will have mostly mastered what you need to know.

The following is a list of times when it is use these accents

This accent mark is used to distinguish between two meanings of the same word. This means an accent mark really makes a simple letter another letter. A simple accent mark in Spanish is a spelling thing. Learn Spanish words and you will not need to know the rules on accents.  With an accent the word changes- here are some examples – Here are the most common words with accents:

  • El (the) compared to Él (he)
  • De (of) compared to Que él dé (that he may give)
  • Se (3rd person reflexive pronoun, “himself,” etc.) compared to Yo sé (I know)
  • Más (more) compared to Mas (but)
  • mi, my; mí, me;
  • si, if; sí, yes
  • solo, only (adjective), single, alone; sólo, only (adverb), solely
  • te, you (as an object); té, tea
  • tu, your; tú, you

In some words an accent is used when used interrogatively

Here are the most common question words with diacritical marks in Spanish commonly found in the following words:

  • Quién? (who?)
  • Qué? (what?)
  • Cuál? (which?)
  • Cúyo? (whose?)
  • Dónde? (where?)

Demonstrative pronouns

These marks are used to make a distinction between demonstrative pronouns, which are usually accented, from demonstrative adjectives, which do not have accent marks. This can be covered in a lessons on demonstrative pronouns.

Other less important Spanish accent rules

Ignore the following if your brain is beyond the point of absorbing more, I will just mention them.

  • On I and U when they occur together with A, E or O, the I
    or U not belonging to the same syllable.
  • Or Spanish sometimes uses umlauts(ü) or diereses.  When this is used the u is pronounced.
  • Where the pronunciation stress is in a word, for example the last or second to last  syllable, Again just learn the words and your will not need to worry about this too much.

However, my point in this post is not to give you all the rules of using a Spanish diacritical symbols.  It will only confuse you with grammar and linguistic excess.

Aprender español puede ser sencillo – To learn Spanish keep it simple.

Rather to simple give you the general rule. That is you use the Hispanic accents for stress and for questions. The most important in any Latino language is ´.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments or your experiences with typing and using the Spanish alphabet with these accents. You will get to know these with simply reading in Spanish and learning Spanish words, rather than learning the rules on accents.

2 replies on “Spanish accents”

Jess Cárdenassays:

Is there a list of spanish words available to let me know when a accent mark is used such as estás está, tú, mí, sí, señor, comí, comió,están, and any others?

Is there a list of words that will tell me when to use the accent mark?

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