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Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language. By Eduardo Alejandro Polón Sandy Spring Friends School. Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language. All words are accented (have a stress) ! But not all words are visually accented (´) !!.

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understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language

UnderstandingThe Rules of Accentuationin theSpanish Language

By

Eduardo Alejandro Polón

Sandy Spring Friends School

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language2
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language
  • All words are accented(have a stress)!
  • But not all words are visually accented(´) !!
understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language3
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

Question:

So, if all words are accented (stressed), then how does one determine whether a particular word takes a tilde (´) or not?

Tip:

The diacritical mark (´) in Spanish is often somewhat erroneously referred to as el acento.

It is more accurately called el tilde or la virgulilla.

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language4
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

Answer:

First classify the word.

Tip:

In the majority of cases determining whether a particular word requires a tilde, or not, is a two step process.

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language5
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

STEP 1:

WORD CLASSIFICATION

All words in Spanish can essentially be classified in 1 of 4 ways:

  • Aguda
  • Grave (a.k.a. Llana)
  • Esdrújula
  • Sobresdrújula
understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language6
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

STEP 1:

WORD CLASSIFICATION

Aguda

Any word whose accent (stress) falls on the last syllable.

i.e., comer, información

Note that not all words classified as agudas take a tilde (accent mark)

Tip:

Roughly 35% of the words in the Spanish language can be classified as agudas.

Behind graves, agudas are the next most popular classification.

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language7
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

STEP 1:

WORD CLASSIFICATION

Grave (a.k.a. Llana)

Any word whose accent (stress) falls on the penultimate (second from last) syllable.

i.e., dulce, árbol

Note that, like agudas, not all words classified as graves take a tilde (accent mark)

Tip:

Roughly 55% of the words in the Spanish language can be classified as graves.

Graves are the most popular classification.

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language8
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

STEP 1:

WORD CLASSIFICATION

Esdrújula

Any word whose accent (stress) falls on the antepenultimate

(third from last) syllable.

i.e., clásico, íntimo

Note that, unlike agudas and graves, all words classified as esdrújula take a tilde (accent mark)

Tip:

Roughly 9% of the words in the Spanish language can be classified as esdrújula.

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language9
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

STEP 1:

WORD CLASSIFICATION

Sobresdrújula

Any word whose accent (stress) falls before the antepenultimate

(third from last) syllable.

i.e., simbólicamente, públicamente

Note that, like esdrújulas, all words classified as sobresdrújula take a tilde (accent mark)

Tip:

Roughly only 1% of the words in the Spanish language can be classified as sobresdrújula.

The few sobresdrújulas that exist tend to be adverbs (ending in –mente), but not all adverbs!

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language10
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

Question:

Once the classification of a word has been established

(Step 1), what is the second, and final, step in determining whether a visual accent (a tilde) is, or is not, required?

Tip:

Tildes appear only over vowels.

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language11
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

STEP 2:

Once determined that a particular word’s classification is:

Aguda

If it ends in “n”, “s” or avowelthen a tilde is placed over the last syllable.

i.e., algodón, Panamá, cortés

Otherwise, no tilde is required.

i.e., logical, tomar, caracol

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language12
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

STEP 2:

Once determined that a particular word’s classification is:

Esdrújula

All esdrújulastake a tilde placed over the antepenultimate syllable.

i.e., simbólico, anímico, águila

Tip:

Esdrújulas are easy since they all take tildes.

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language13
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

STEP 2:

Once determined that a particular word’s classification is:

Grave

If it DOES NOT end in “n”, “s” or a vowel then a tilde is placed over the penultimate syllable.

i.e., árbol, azúcar, ángel

Otherwise, no tilde is required.

i.e., , camino, polen, telecomunicaciones

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language14
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

STEP 2:

Once determined that a particular word’s classification is:

Sobresdrújula

All sobresdrújulastake a tilde placed over the stressed syllable before the antepenultimate position.

i.e., simbólicamente, fácilmente, rápidamente

Tip:

If an esdrújula can be converted to an adverb (-mente) then that new word is now sobresdrújula and keeps its original tilde. Otherwise the word gets reclassified (see below).

i.e., simplemente, lentamente, justamente

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language15
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

OTHER CHARACTERS SEEN IN SPANISH:

ñ

  • The ñ is an actual letter in the Spanish alphabet.
  • Some confusion between Spanish and English exists because in English the diacritical mark “~” is also called a “tilde”.
  • In Spanish, the “~” is actually part of the letter (ñ) and helps to distinguish it from the “n”, in the same way essentially that the line through the letter “Q” helps distinguish it from the letter “O”.

i.e., año, señor, español

Tip:

Technically, Spanish only contributes one visual accent mark to its own language, the aforementioned tilde (´).

understanding the rules of accentuation in the spanish language16
Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

OTHER CHARACTERS SEEN IN SPANISH:

ü

  • The German ü(umlaut) has been borrowed by the Spanish language.
  • It is used infrequently but, when required, always follows the letter “g” and precedes the vowels “e” or “i”.

i.e., vergüenza, lingüístico, pingüino

vs.

i.e., guerra, guitarra, espagueti

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Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULES:

Breaking Diphthongs

  • A diphthong (diptongo) is two adjacent vowels that together make one sound.

i.e., fauna, guapo, mutuo

  • A diphthong can be “broken” into two distinct syllables with the use of a tilde (´). When this occurs, breaking the diphthong with a tilde takes precedence over the original rule.

i.e., comía, tío, grúa

Tip:

Notice that in all three cases directly above, in order to break the diphthong for pronunciation sake, the words each take tildes even though they are classified as graves and end in a vowel.

slide18

Understanding The Rules of Accentuation in the Spanish Language

EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULES:

Dealing With Monosyllabic Words

  • By sheer definition, all monosyllabic words are classified, rightfully so, as agudas since they only have one syllable.

i.e., yo, me, voy, fui

  • No tildes are required (anymore*) on monosyllabic words ending in n, s, or a vowel, provided there is not a conflict with a preexisting word.

i.e., él vs. el, tú vs. tu, sí vs. si, mí vs. mi, etc.

Tip:

* This is a relatively recent rule established by La Academia Real. Prior to this change, monosyllabic words ending in n, s or a vowel did indeed follow the traditional rule for agudas.