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Spanish Accentuation

Spanish accentuation relies on specific rules, and words that are not stressed according to these rules must have a written accent mark. If you’re thinking that, because you only want to learn conversational Spanish, you don’t need to learn the Spanish accentuation rules, think again.

While learning Spanish, you will be exposed to the written word and by learning the Spanish accent rules you’ll have that much easier of a time pronouncing Spanish words when you see them. You see, not all Spanish words–that don’t have an accent mark–are stressed on the penultimate (second to last) syllable.

This article is an addition to my Spanish teacher’s excellent lesson on the rules of the Spanish accent mark. So I won’t repeat the rules here. What I want to do instead, is add a specific rule that might trip you up, at first.

It’s likely that the first subject you’ll be taught while learning Spanish–after greetings–is travel, and if you’re not learning solely by audio, you’ll have seen this (or something like it) written:

¿Dónde está...? Where is...?

Notice the accent mark on dónde? Yes, well if you were to say (and write):

El lugar donde puede almorzar The place where you can eat lunch

you do not use the accent mark. The word donde sounds the same whether it’s in a question or a statement. The rule here is: pronouns and adverbs within questions and exclamations require a written accent to differentiate them from their relatives.

Here are a couple of more examples:

¿Quién está ahí? Who's there?
La mujer a quien amo The woman whom I love

¿Qué es eso? What is that?
El jugo que no quería The juice that I did not want

Got it? For a full understanding of Spanish accentuation and the rules for when to use–or not use–the accent mark, read the Spanish accent mark lesson.

Did you find this article on Spanish accentuation helpful? Please leave a comment or question. I try to answer questions promptly.