Rules for Stress

In Spanish, words are spelled just like they sound. In order to take advantage of this simple and nearly perfect system of spelling, one must first know the rules for stress - that is, how to know which syllable is pronounced the loudest.



  1. Words ending in a vowel, -n, or -s are stressed on the next to the last (penultimate) syllable:

    nada
    na - da

    limonada
    li - mo - na - da

    zapatos
    za - pa - tos

    origen
    o - ri - gen

    compro
    com - pro

    esta
    es - ta

    estas
    es- tas

  2. Words ending in any consonant except -n or -s are stressed on the last syllable:

    doctor
    doc - tor

    ciudad
    ciu - dad

    comer
    co - mer

  3. When rules #1 and #2 above are not followed, a written accent is used:

    compró
    com - pró

    está
    es -

    estás
    es - tás

  4. Written accents are also used to differentiate between words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings:

    si - if
    - yes

    mi - my
    - me

    el - the
    él - he

    tu - your
    - you

Don't think of these rules as burdensome. Rather, view them as your friends. They allow you to pronounce any Spanish word correctly.

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