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How to pronounce these letters (áéíóú ü) in spanish, and why ?

Hello everybody,

I am practicing Spanish on duolingo, and I always ask my self about these letters (á - é - í - ó - ú - ü - ) or pronunciation helpers if I can name them, how they are pronounced, and when they come ? is there a certain rule ? or you just have to recognize the word with these letters as base from the word itself ?

also if we are writing in Spanish some word contains one of these letters , like (tú, qué, siempré..) or whatever, and we wrote it with out these pronouncing (Ex: capitán -> capitan ) is it a problem, or considers as a mistake ?

I hope anybody can help me, and many thanks.

July 23, 2016



Those are letters with accent marks. The accent marks in Spanish generally mean you put more emphasis on those letters. The pronunciation in and of itself doesn't change, but the emphasis does. Except the ü. I know there are words with that letter in it, but there are not many. Lastly, yes that accent is very important. If a word contains it, and you write it without it, you may end up with a different word. The accent marks can actually change the meaning of the word, or with many verbs can change the tense.

Compro - I buy

Compró - he bought

Compré - I bought

Compre - (Subjunctive verb form of) I buy

Those are just two quick examples.


Compre in spanish is used like an order, It is like "Compre nuestro nuevo producto" (Buy our new product)


Yes, but it's also used in subjunctive: "Ojalá él compre eso", "Espero que no compre esa cosa tan fea" etc xD.


Yep :3 solo agregaba un ejemplo, ya que con "I buy" no quedaba muy claro :/


Bueno, sí xD Él intentó decir lo mismo que yo pero no quedaba nada claro; tendría que haberlo explicado más. De hecho, en inglés mi primera oración sería algo como: "I hope he doesn't buy that" Tu ejemplo está bien, es otra forma de usar esa palabra, solo que en "compre nuestro nuevo producto", "compre" está en imperativo, no en subjuntivo, claro :)


Gracias por hacerme traducir tu comentario, yo aprendido nuevas palabras :)


Muchas Gracias Shane !


They're accent marks that either mark the stress of the word or change it's meaning from a similar word. For example "tu" means "your" but "tú" means "you".


Yes, but when (and where) he has to put the accents? First of all you have to know where is the tonic accent in a word (always there is a tonic accent). A couple days ago I helped a friend with that, I copy my reply:

Usually I know where it is because, for example, when I say a word like "gallina" for me sounds a lot better to say "GaLLIna" than say "GalliNA". But when I have doubts I use a trick xD: I say the word out loud and I try to find the syllable that should be longer If I were in a high mountain and other person who is bit far in other mountain would need to hear me (this sounds strange but it's true lol). For example:

BRÚUUUjula or CÁAAAANdido (palabras esdrújulas)-->They have the tonic accent in the antepenultimate syllable. They always have a diacritical accent.

LÁAAAApiz or HabichUEEEEEEEla or CanTAAAAANte (palabras llanas)----->They have the tonic accent in the penultimate syllable. They have a diacritical accent if they end in a consonant different from "n" or "s", for example, "ángel".

AguaRRÁAAAAAS, MÁAAAAAS, EscuCHÓOOOOO (don't confuse with "escucho" wich is llana, and it's in present as you for sure know ;)) (Palabras agudas)--------->They have the tonic accent in the last syllable. They have a diacritical accent if they end in a vowel, or in "n" or "s" (it's the opposite of the rules of the "llana" words)

I dont' know if you have already known the rules of accentuation , but I told you that just in case xD Oh, and this applies to most of the words but there are some exceptions, like in "tú" (a pronoun) and "tu" (a posseive adjective) ;).

The ü is different. It's used only in these types of words: pingüino, antigüedad, etc...to indicate that you have to pronounce the "u" (so you would say "pin-gu-i-no, you know?). In other cases, like in the word "guisante", we pronounce it like in English (e.g "guilty")

I hope you understand, I'm learning English xD


This is so good and helpful comment, I understood the idea of pronouncing the Á , because in Arabic we have a letter doesn't exist in another languages, and it's pronounced like if you put 3As together with closing your tongue to your pharynx, so it's kinda similar..not exactly but I fot it. thank you very much.


I'm glad I could help ^^ You're welcome! But you know, you only pronounce the syllable like that (MEEEsa, capaTAAAAZ, ImpoSIIIble, etc) when you want to know where is the tonic accent. When you speak in a normal way you mustn't say the syllable that long, you only have to pronunce it stronger (but not very much) than the other syllables of the word...I don't know if you understand me xD Anyway there are a lot of websites where this is better explained :S. That fact about the Arabic Language is very interesting, I didn't know it :3


Oh, and also exist "sobreesdrújula" words (palabras sobreesdrújulas): técnicamente, rápidamente, fácilmente...(you see that they come from these words: técnico, rápido, fácil...", that's the reason why they have an accent when they become an adverb)


thanks for your replay, I know they are accent marks, but I didn't get them too much !!


I suggest you look at the videos on YouTube called "Butterfly Spanish", the one on vowels is what you want to concentrate on and also the one on the alphabet. Knowing how to pronounce the letters e and i will go a long way in helping to read, write and listen. You'll know how to spell even if you don't know what it means. Let me know what you think.


these videos are amazing !! I will try to check them all, very helpful !

I will suggest them to all my friends who want to learn spanish, thank you trenton :)


Thanks for getting back. About getting those accent marks on your computer? If you have"t settled that yet, try getting the US International Keyboard or the Spanish one downloaded or there is what is known as the, believe it or not, Cryptic Codes. Those are the Alt + 4 numbers you can type in, a nuisance but they work. .

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