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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 types 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 it’s the second to last syllable that needs to be stressed.
The second rule applies to words that -
End in a consonant not including the letter N or the letter S
For these types 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.
The acute 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 contains this 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, indicating that it must be stressed, therefore we must stress the last syllable 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 pronunciation remains the same, then what's the purpose of the accent marker?
It's to differentiate words that would otherwise be spelled 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 separately.
For example...
tía (aunt)
país (country)
mío (mine)
río (river)
Well, that's all for stress and accents.
In this lesson, you learned 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!

9 Comments

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SpanishPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
Pinned Comment
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Let us know if you have any questions-

SpanishPod101.com Verified
Sunday at 07:29 AM
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Hola Chris,


Muchas gracias for pointing out that issue. I have informed our team and I'm happy to let you know that the issue has been corrected. 😇

We hope you enjoy studying with us! If you have any further questions or feedback, please don't hesitate to let us know.


Saludos,

Levente

Team SpanishPod101.com

Chris
Tuesday at 11:51 AM
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The video and transcript on this web page are not matched.


The video contains only the [Stress] part, the [Accentuation] part is missing in the video, but its in the transcript on this web page.

SpanishPod101.com Verified
Sunday at 02:58 AM
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Hola Will Smith,


We're happy to know you're enjoying the lessons.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Sigamos practicando!


Saludos,

Carla

Team SpanishPod101.com

Will Smith
Tuesday at 06:31 AM
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At last the purpose of accent marks makes sense 😄

SpanishPod101.com Verified
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.com Verified
Thursday at 02:41 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 06:20 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.