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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Spanish Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, you'll learn about stress and accentuation in Spanish.
Let's cover stress first because that'll make understanding accentuation easier.
Like English, Spanish places stress on specific syllables in a word.
There are generally two main rules that govern where the stress is placed in Spanish.
The first rule, applies to words that -
End in a vowel
End with the letter N
Or end with the letter S
For these type of words, the stress is placed on the second last syllable of the word.
Listen to Alex pronounce a few words that contain one of these features.
nada (nothing)
origen (origin)
zapatos (shoes)
Most Spanish words tend to fall into this category. So it's quite likely that the stress is placed on the second last syllable.
The second rule, applies to words that -
End in a consonant which isn't the letter N or the letter S
For these type of words, the stress is placed on the last syllable of the word.
For example...
doctor (doctor)
ciudad (city)
comer (to eat)
Quite simple isn't it?
Let's have a quick test to see if you've grasped the material.
Where should the stress be placed in the following words?
niñas (girls)
nadador (swimmer)
computadora (computer)
Most Spanish words will obey either one of these two rules. So it's best that you memorize them.
Okay. Now let's move on!
Enter the Spanish accent.
Spanish uses the acute accent.
Which looks like this.
This accent is used to indicate that the syllable must be stressed, regardless of the two previous stress rules.
To put it another way, always stress the syllable which has the accent.
Let's take a look at a few examples.
compró (bought)
compró
As you can see, this word ends with a vowel. Normally you would stress the second last syllable. However, there's an accent over the letter O, therefore the last syllable is stressed instead.
Let's take a look at another one.
médico (physician)
médico
Notice how the first syllable is stressed? That's precisely because of the accent marker.
What about this word?
él (he)
...or this one.
el (the)
They both sound exactly the same right?
"That's because single syllable words are already stressed naturally.
You cannot add more stress to a single syllable simply by placing an accent marker over one of the vowels."
So, if the pronounciation remains the same, then what's the purpose of the accent marker?
It's to differentiate words that would otherwise be spelt the same but have different meanings.
So while it doesn't impact how single syllable words are pronounced, it helps to lift the ambiguity between words that would otherwise be identical.
And finally, this accent has one remaining function that we've yet to discuss.
Do you remember diphthongs? The merging of two vowel sounds when they're next to each other?
Well whenever this accent appears over the letters I or U in a vowel group, it prevents them from being a diphthong.
Meaning you must pronounce them seperately.
For example...
tía (aunt)
país (country)
mío (mine)
río (river)
Well, that's all for stress and accents.
In this lesson, you learnt about stress and accentuation in Spanish.
In the next lesson, you'll learn about metaplasm in Spanish.
Do you have accents in your language? Share it in the comments.
See you in the next Ultimate Spanish Pronunciation Guide lesson!
Accentuation
The four categories of polysyllabic words
Don't confuse prosodic accents with graphical accents
Palabras agudas
Words with the prosodic accent on the last syllable
frujol
cantar
soportar
maratón
Palabras llanas
Words with the prosodic accent on the second to last syllable
árbol
campana
accidente
filosofía
Palabras esdújulas
Words with the prosodic accent on the third to last syllable
murciélago
miércoles
Palabras sobreesdrújulas
Words with prosodic accent before the third to last syllable
ábremelo
cuéntamelo
rápidamente
específicamente
Because these last two groups have at least three syllables, they are more difficult to pronounce correctly.
Common Mistake
Students confusing the prosodic accent
The words are actually easier to pronounce when the prosodic accent is in the right place
You will still be understood, but it will potentially cause confusion
It's also easy to use the pronunciation of your native language with cognates
abundante (abunDANte)
English: aBUNdent
Practice
Words are said and the listener must guess the category

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SpanishPod101.comVerified
Friday at 6:30 pm
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Let us know if you have any questions-

SpanishPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 10:02 am
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Hola Damian,


Thank you for sharing! :thumbsup:

That's very interesting, some how it relates to Spanish.

Please keep enjoying the lessons and let us know if you have any question.


Saludos,

Carla

Team SpanishPod101.com

Damian Gribowski
Saturday at 11:17 pm
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My language is polish and we don't have accent marks.

We usually put stress on the syllable that's before the last one. Examples:

Nauczyciel (teacher) [musculine] - the stress is on "czy"

Nauczycielka (teacher) [feminine] - the stress is on "ciel"

Sometimes we stress on syllables further from the last one, but that's not as common

spanishPod101.comVerified
Thursday at 2:41 pm
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Hola Carrie,


They mostly sound the same. Just like you said with a slight higher pitch.

But when one talks fast you need to be hearing at the context, to know which "el" are they using.

Most of accents are learn by practicing and memorizing.


Saludos,

Carla

Team SpanishPod101.com

Carrie
Wednesday at 6:20 pm
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The accented vowels sound different to me, especially with "el" and "él." It doesn't sound like it's just stressing a vowel more. It sounds slightly higher in pitch.