Stress and accent marks in Spanish

The rules of where to put the emphasis in Spanish words are fairly simple, as summarized in the following table.

Stressed syllable When Example
last words ending in a consonant encontrar, usted
last but one words ending in a vowel dibujo, planeta
words ending in -s or -n origen, entonces
indicated by an accent mark in every other case séptimo, corazón, jamás, preguntó

Accent mark

Apart from indicating an irregular place of stress, there are other uses of accent marks.

They differentiate between words with the same spelling but different part of speech (word class):

example: como - cómo; si - sí; el - él

When "u" or "i" is paired with another vowel, they form a diphthong. Accent mark is used to indicate an exception to this - when "u" or "i" should be considered as a separate vowel and syllable.

example: policía; oído; actúo; grúa

The disappearing accent mark

The use of accent mark in a word is not necessarily static. An affix can change the relative location of stress and an irregular emphasis may turn regular (or the other way round).

leónin plural:leones
interésin plural:intereses
huracánin plural:huracanes





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