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9.1.30: G.8.3- Accent Rules (las reglas de acentuación)

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    236096
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    In this section we are going to learn about why words need written accent marks in Spanish. These are sometimes referred to as “tildes” in Spanish. It is important to note that there is big difference between written accents, which tell us where the stress should fall in a word, and natural stress patterns. Where and why written accents are used in Spanish is a source of confusion to learners of Spanish until they accept that they are indeed meaningful (accents aren’t just random marks over words that need to be memorized) and...they learn the three rules that follow:

    1. For Spanish words that end in a vowel, the letter “n” or the letter “s”, the natural stress falls on the second-to-last (penultimate) syllable.
      • ca-sa

      • man-za-na

      • mu-cha-chi-ta

      • im-por-tan-te

      • a-rre-pen-ti-do

      • ca-sas

      • com-pren-des

      • a-rre-gla-ron

      • e-xa-men

    2. For Spanish words that end in any other letter that is not a vowel, “n” or “s”, the natural stress falls on the last syllable.
      • ciu-dad

      • cas-ca-bel

      • pa-pel

      • en-ten-der

      • fe-liz

      • in-ca-paz

      • en-tre-gar

    3. When a word contains the combination of “i” + another vowel or “u” + another vowel, these two vowel sounds blend to create one sound/syllable (known as a diphthong).
      • ciu-dad

      • des-trui-do

      • cie-lo

      • pei-ne

      • ai-re

      • ac-ción

      • a-gua

      • bue-no

      • cui-da-do

      • au-tor

      • con-ti-nua-ción

    A Spanish word requires a written accent mark if it breaks any one of these three rules for natural stress. Note that a written accent mark over an “i” or a “u” breaks up a diphthong—it separates the two vowels into separate syllables.

    Listen to the following words that require written accent marks and then decide why the accent mark is required. Which rule does the word break?

    Audio Click to guess the rule broken
    ma-má

    ma-má

    Breaks rule #1

    sim-pá-ti-co

    sim-pá-ti-co

    Breaks rule #1

    Ma-rí-a

    Ma-rí-a

    Breaks rule #3

    ca-fé

    ca-fé

    Breaks rule #1

    cés-ped

    cés-ped

    Breaks rule #2

    ma-íz

    ma-íz

    Breaks rule #3

    en-ten-dió

    en-ten-dió

    Breaks rule #1

    di-fí-cil

    de-fí-cil

    Breaks rule #2

    rí-e

    rí-e

    Breaks rule #3

    Can-cún

    Can-cún

    Breaks rule #1

    ál-bum

    ál-bum

    Breaks rule #2

    tí-o

    tí-o

    Breaks rule #3

    ac-ción

    ac-ción

    Breaks rule #1

    a-zú-car

    a-zú-car

    Breaks rule #2

    re-ú-ne

    re-ú-ne

    Breaks rule #3

    in-te-rés

    in-te-rés

    Breaks rule #1

    Gon-zá-lez

    Gon-zá-lez

    Breaks rule #2

    dú-o

    dú-o

    Breaks rule #3

    pa-pá

    pa-pá

    Breaks rule #1

    co-mí-a-mos

    co-mí-a-mos

    Breaks rule #1 AND rule #3

    trái-ga-me-los

    trái-ga-me-los

    Breaks rule #1

    ángel

    ángel

    Breaks rule #2

    cabezón

    cabezón

    Breaks rule #1

    Listen to these pairs of words and try to decide why one needs a written accent while the other does not:

    acción

    acciones

    examen

    exámenes

    queda

    quédate

    hablo

    habló

    Written Accents—Single Syllable Words and Grammatical Distinctions

    The following is a list of pairs of one-syllable words that require a written accent mark to let the reader know which word is being used. These words are always pronounced the same way regardless of the written accent mark.

    1. dé - Déme el examen (usted command of the verb dar)
      de - El hijo de mi amigo (preposition “de”)
    2. él - ¿Lo quiere él? (3rd person singular pronoun, he)
      el - El libro de español (definite article, the)
    3. más - Yo soy más guapa que ella. (more)
      mas - No quiero, mas he de hacerlo. (mas without the accent means “pero”)
    4. mí - el libro es para mí (object of a preposition, me)
      mi - éste es mi libro (possessive pronoun, my)
    5. sé - Yo sé la respuesta. (“yo” form of the verb saber)
      se - Se come bien en este restaurante. (pronoun)
    6. sí - La respuesta es Sí. (yes)
      si - Si no viene hoy, viene mañana. (if)
    7. té - me gusta el té más que el café (tea)
      te - ¿A ti, te gusta el té? (2nd person object pronoun)
    8. tú - Tú eres la luz de mi vida. (2nd person subject pronoun, you)
      tu - ¿Cuál es tu coche? (2nd person possessive pronoun, your)
    9. sólo - El drogadicto sólo piensa en su adicción. (only)
      solo/a - Prefiero estar solo cuando estudio. (alone)
    10. aún - Me han dicho que aún no se sabe si va a regresar o no. (todavía)
      aun - Continuaba trabajando aun cuando era viejo. (even)

    Written Accents and Question Words

    All interrogative words require written accents to distinguish them from the same words that function as conjunctions (without accents). This is true for direct and indirect questions.

    Direct Questions

    • ¿Qué tienes en la mano?
    • ¿Cómo resuelves este tipo de problema?
    • ¿Dónde queda tu casa?
    • ¿Por qué no me quieres prestar diez dólares?

    Indirect Questions

    • No sé qué tienes en la mano.
    • Parece que no me quieres explicar cómo resuelves este tipo de problema.
    • Antes de que te busquemos, necesitamos saber dónde queda tu casa.
    • No tengo idea de por qué no me quieres prestar diez dólares.

    These words also require a written accent when they are used as exclamatives.

    • ¡Qué barbaridad!
    • ¡Cómo te quiero!
    • ¡Cuánto quisiera acompañarte al concierto!

    In other uses of these words—when they are not interrogatives or exclamatives—there is not a written accent. Here are a few examples in bold:

    Ejemplo(s):

    --Yo sé que mis padres me quieren.
    I know that my parents love me.

    --Tengo un perro que nunca hace lo que le digo.
    I have a dog that never does what I tell him.

    --Mario trabaja sólo cuando y donde quiere porque es flojo.
    Mario works only when and where he wants because he is lazy.


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