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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)
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)
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!