Although most Spanish words of more than one syllable contain a stressed vowel, the accent mark is not always necessary. This is because the majority of words follow the same tendencies (that is to say that they are normal). Thanks to this, it is easy for Spanish speakers to know which syllable to stress. Here are two simple rules that tell you which syllable to stress when the word does NOT carry an acento ortográfico.
-If a Spanish word ends in a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) or in the consonants n or s, the syllable that bears the stress is normally the one that is next to last (penúltima sílaba).
ho-la me-xi-ca-no en-can-ta-da res-tau-ran-te co-ci-ne-ro bra-si-le-ña -If a Spanish word ends in a consonant different from n o s, the syllable that bears stress is normally the last one (última sílaba).
us-ted se-ñor es-tar es-pa-ñol pro-fe-sor u-ni-ver-si-dad Palabras especiales
The acento ortográfico is needed when a word deviates from the general rules; that is to say that it is special. This happens in the following situations.
-Some words ending in a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) or in the consonants n or s are NOT stressed on the next-to-last syllable.
me-nú so-fá ma-rro-quí es-tán a-le-mán in-glés por-tu-gués
In such cases, the accent mark is needed to draw attention to the fact that the word behaves differently from normal words.
-Some words ending in a consonant different from n or s are NOT stressed on the final syllable.
dó-lar lá-piz há-bil ál-bum cár-cel
Here again, the accent mark is needed to draw attention to the fact that the word behaves differently from most words.
-Additionally, all words that are stressed on the third-to-last syllable (antepenúltima sílaba) must be written with an accent mark.
te-lé-fo-no bo-lí-gra-fo sí-la-bas pe-núl-ti-ma ma-te-má-ti-cas
The reason for this is that this behvior is an exception to the rule that stress normally falls on the next-to-last or on the last syllable of Spanish words.
There are some additional cases when an acento ortográfico is needed.
-The vowels i and u need an accent mark when they are pronounced with stress and appear next to another vowel that belongs to a separate syllable.
dí-a ba-úl re-ír ac-tú-o po-li-cí-a bio-lo-gí-a -Some one-syllable words need an accent mark in order to distinguish them from other words that are different but sound exactly the same.
él (he) / el (the) sí (yes) / si (if) tú (you) / tu (your) mí (me) / mi (my)
-Interrogative and exclamatory words need an accent mark on the stressed vowel
Read the following words aloud paying attention to the syllable that bears stress and explain why the word is written with or without an accent mark.
pro-fe-so-ra a-llí Cen-tro-a-mé-ri-ca a-vión viven tra-ba-jo fran-cés fá-cil em-pre-sa-ria i-ra-ní-es Ar-gen-ti-na nú-me-ro ¿cuál? a-za-fa-ta al-cal-de va-ca-cio-nes si-co-lo-gí-a
di-se-ña-dor ca-sua-li-dad e-co-no-mis-ta neo-ze-lan-dés a-le-ma-nes