When to put the accents.
Someone asked this in an exercise and I decided to put my answer here so more people could read it.
When do we put the accent in spanish words?
I could explain this but it's not that easy. Even spanish speakers don't know what the rules are to put the accents (they learn it by heart, mostly).
Here we go. The first thing you have to do is to separate the word into syllables, then you must think which is the syllable you mostly stress when you pronunciate it. We have some categories for words, for example "palabras agudas", "palabras graves", "palabras esdrújulas" and "palabras sobreesdrújulas". So if your word is stressed in the last syllable (which is really the first one, since you must count them backwards), then that's a "palabra aguda" and you have to put the accent only if that word ends with "n", "s" or a vowel (for example: balcón, marqués, razón, bebé and all the words that end with "-ción", like entretención, ambición, emoción, ilusión). If it's stressed in the second syllable (backwards counted, remember) that's a "palabra grave" and you have to put the accent only when it DOESN'T end with "n", "s" or vowel (like álbum, ángel, cárcel, difícil). If it is stressed in the third syllable, it is called "palabra esdrújula" and those words are ALWAYS marked with an accent (actually "esdrújula" is a "palabra esdrújula", lol). And when it's stressed in the fourth syllable, it's a "palabra sobreesdrújula" and all of them are also marked with an accent. Las palabras sobreesdrújulas are not very common though, they only appear when we have a specific conjugation of the word, an imperative form (like "cuéntamelo) or some adverbs ending in "-mente" ("pacíficamente", "prácticamente").
Some examples: word: Estúpido. We separate it into syllables -> es-tu-pi-do, where "do" is the first syllable and "es" is the last one. When we say it, it is stressed in "tu", which is the third syllable, so this is a "palabra esdrújula", and according to the rule, all of them must be marked with the accent. So "estúpido" has an accent in the "tu".
word: perro. -> pe-rro. It is stressed in the second syllable ("pe"). So this is a "palabra grave" and we only have to put the accent when it doesn't end with "n", "s" or vowel. In this case, we have a palabra grave which ends with a vowel, so we don't mark it with the accent.
word: música -> mu-si-ca. It is a palabra esdrújula since it is stressed in the third syllable. the rule says that all of them must be marked with the accent, so we write it as "música".
request: you have to know how to pronunciate the word and how to separate it into syllables. Once you learn it, they're very easy! and you will know something most of the spanish speakers (I think) don't know.
Note: In spanish, it is not correct to use the word "acento" when talking about the accent. You have to say "(la) tilde" (feminine), because every word has "acento" for us since all of them are stressed in one syllable. Thus, "Perro" has acento but it doesn't have tilde.
There is another rule. we use accents also to separate "diptongos". The "diptongos" happen when two vowels go next to each other in one syllable. "Diptongos" are ONLY composed by two weak vowels or one weak and one strong vowels:
Strong vowels: a, e, o.
Weak vowels: i, u.
Examples of "diptongo": Cuer-da, Hue-vo, Ai-re
As you can read, all of these words have two vowels together in their fist syllable, one weak and one strong. (Diptongos are not exclusively in the first syllable, it was just for the example).
Two strong vowels written together separate in two syllables.
Examples: Bre-a, Cro-a, Fe-o.
In all of these words we have two strong vowels, but they separate their sound in two syllables.
Now, here's the extra rule: whenever you put an accent in a weak vowel, it becomes a strong vowel.
Examples of diptongos broken with an accent: Ba-úl, Frí-o, Es-tí-o, Grú-a.
Now, as you see, the common rules of accentuation don't apply to these words, but the weak vowel is accented because the diptongo has to be broken.
I hope I explained myself clearly and you find this useful
And by the way... at least in México we do use the word "acento" to reffer to the "tilde", so it is not completely wrong after all.
Un pequeño resumen gráfico:
palabra Aguda lleva tilde: (--- / --- / --- / -'-) termina: N, S, Vocal
palabra Grave lleva tilde: (--- / --- / -'- / ---) NO termina: N, S, Vocal
palabra Esdrújula lleva tilde: (--- / -'- / --- / ---) Siempre
palabra Sobresdrújula lleva tilde: (-'- / --- / --- / ---) Siempre
Yeah, and we also have to clarify that there are some monosyllables that must have accent to make the difference between them and their homonyms. The ones I have in mind right now could be:
te - té. (you like in accusative form vs. tea)
de - dé ("of", "from" vs. the word provenient from the verb "dar", like in "espero que él te dé un regalo")
se - sé (the first one is a kind of reflexive. LavarSE, peinarSE are reflexive forms, therefore when we put them in a sentence they'd be "Ella se peina". The second one is the verb 'to know' "Yo sé" = "I know").
mi - mí. (the possessive adjective "my" vs. "mí" like in the accusative form. "Ese libro es para mí (that book is for me)".)
I didn't know that about your use of "acento". In Chile when someone says it, it is better corrected into "tilde". In schools, for example, they always tell you "Eso se llama tilde, recuerda que todas las palabras tienen acento".
Haha funny how two native Spanish speakers communicate in English... Saludos a Chile desde México :)
LOL, you're right! But I want them all to understand these comments so...
This question is for anyone who knows the answer to it. In English, I have always known the "tilde" to be something that looks like this:
It is a diacritical mark that goes over the "N" in Spanish and other than that, I haven't spent too much time studying it. I keep reading references to it where the word "tilde" appears to be referring to what is known as an acute accent. In Spanish, is the name for the diacritical mark over the "N" the exact same as the name for the accent? Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, so I made an image with some diacritical marks used in Spanish with labels for what we call them in English.
If I am understanding correctly, the horizontal squiggle over the "N" is called a "tilde" in Spanish and so is the upward-slanting diagonal mark we call an accent (specifically an acute accent)? These two marks that look so very different don't have separate names? That's the impression I've been getting, but I've never asked anyone directly. This discussion, however, seemed like a good opportunity to ask it. Anyone happen to know?
All the symbols that are above a letter are 'tildes', the first is concretely the 'acute accent' or 'acento agudo' (á), the opposite symbol is the grave accent or 'acento grave' (à), that doesn't exist in Spanish. Then the diaeresis or 'diéresis'. I had to search the name of the symbol ~, and It can be called 'tilde' or 'virgulilla', they are both generic names, the symbol ~ doesn't have a concrete name. Then you can call It 'tilde de la ñ', 'virgulilla' or 'virgulilla de la ñ'. I hope I have helped you. Greetings from Spain.
Wow, thanks for posting it. I think this is to be added here as an exercise. So everybody will learn the rules.
De nada, de nada, de nada, de nada :D
Was that understandable? I tried to explain it as clear as possible...
I had to read it a couple of times (mostly because I didn't understand you count syllables backwards, at first) but yes! It made sense! I'll have to write down a chart later, but yeah! Thank you!!
It will be easier when you do :D! I recommend you to practice as well. I mean, choose a random word and try to separate into syllables and stuff.
In spanish we have a saying: "La práctica hace al maestro".
(This may be useful too for you http://www.duolingo.com/comment/1611942$comment_id=1617687 ).
Yeah, in practice it will become easier, now that I know about the mechanics of it, as opposed to just memorizing the accents for each word. And haha, I was actually directed here from that article, but I knew those rules already (although the "mi mujer" was a new bit of information.) Thank you so very much for all your help!
Oh I see... haha. Well, if you need some help just let me know. I like to teach :D
Stupid question, but I've seen this several times on this site. I have seen many people saying they are native Spanish speakers or Spanish teachers, that have a lev 5 flag? How is that possible. Also, I am interested in getting an answer to Lisa's question above, about the different types of of accents, and whether or not you have a different name for each or just one for all of them. Thanks so much.
If they're native Spanish speakers, they're taking the English-->Spanish course to test their English, perhaps, and participate in the forums to help learners.
My native language is English, but I have an American flag in my list of languages because I've tried the Spanish-->English and French-->English courses to test my Spanish and French.
Rae, thank you so much. I have heard about those courses, but didn't think much about them. And did't realize they would have the same flag. Makes perfect sense. Thanks again :)