Spanish - The Basics: Accents

Updated: Apr 24

HOLA TODOS!

Or shall I say, hello everyone! Today’s post is going to be a learning one. It’s going to be quick, so that you guys don’t get too bored of me repeating myself. So, let’s get to it. We’ll be talking about the Spanish alphabet.


Why?

First off, it’s great to learn phrases and whatnots, because it gets you started with actually speaking to someone, but how do you know how to say a word, if you don’t know how each word sounds, or looks like, for example you’ll get accents above some words, and more often than not, those accents mean something. Other times, you get letters that normally have a certain sound, but when you read or hear them being said, there’s another sound altogether.


That’s why you’re learning about the alphabet today!


What's The Difference?

So, the Spanish alphabet is pretty easy to understand, since it has the same letters as the English alphabet does. The only difference is that for some words and sentences, these letters change up. As I mentioned before, there are accents above them. So they look something like this:

A – Á

a – á

E – É

e – é

I – Í

i – í

O – Ó

o – ó

U – Ú

u – ú


Now, in terms of sound, the accent doesn’t mean much, but in terms of inflection and stress, they are very important. These accents only apply to vowels, you’ll never find one above a consonant. So, these accents help to identify one word from another.


For example:


ESTA AND ESTÁ


These are two different words, even though they are spelt the same. The first “esta” (without the accent) means “this”. The second “está” means “is” or the third person form of “is” or “to be”.


Do You See What I Mean?

Think of it this way. We have two versions of “tear”. The first one is to tear a piece of paper. The other is a tear that falls when we cry. It’s the same concept, but instead of using the whole sentence to determine the meaning, the accent does it for you in Spanish.


Also, remember that the accent itself doesn’t change at all, you will always get a forward-looking dash above the vowel, it never goes backwards.


What About That Funny Looking N?

Oh, you mean this “n”:


Ñ or ñ


That is a different story. So, the sound here is not the same as the regular “n” which sounds the same as it does in English. This sounds like “niya” but slurred (sorry, there’s no other way to explain it).

Think about it this way, imagine you’re a cat, and you want to speak cat, you’d say, “meow”. Now, replace the “m” with an “n” and remove the “ow” at the end. So, you end up with “nye” or “nya”. That’s basically what “ñ” sounds like.

It’s a very common letter and is used in words like “niño” or “español”. They’re not stress markers, but a sound marker (I guess). So, when you say “niño” you say “nin-nyo”, or when you say “español”, you say “es-pan-nyol”.


The Uncommon Ü

Last but not least guys, there is a ü floating out there, in the Spanish language. This one’s very uncommon, but there are a few words that contain it, for example the word:


Pingüino


This letter is only used in a combination, and these are “gue” or “gui”. Now, there are two forms of these combinations. One is the “normal” form (I guess), this one negates the “u” in the middle. For example, when you say words like “guerra” or “guitarra”, the “u” is ignored. So, “guerra” sounds like “ge-rah” and “guitarra” sounds like “gi-tah-rah”.

Now the “ü” makes the “oo” sound in the middle, so the “u” isn’t ignored. That’s why, when you say the word “pingüino”, it sounds like “pin-goo-ee-no”.


Practice Makes Perfect

Well, that’s it for today. I told you it’d be quick. I’m not in any rush to teach you guys these languages, but you will have to do some homework. Look up any Spanish word with these accents, and practice writing them, or saying them. Don’t worry about the meaning for now, that will come later.

For now, just practice trying to say words like these, or write them down, so that you remember what they look like. I know it’s easy to start learning phrases, and words, like “hola” and “qué tal”, but if you don’t remember the reasons, they’re spelt that way, you won’t be able to remember how to write them down.


Besides, that’s how we learned English right? You start from the basics, like the alphabet, then you work your way to the more difficult words.


So, I’ll see you guys very soon! Let me know what you guys think? Was this lesson helpful, or did it make you want to tear your hair out, leave your tips in the jar below!


With love,



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