Your question: how do you know where to stress a word in Spanish?

In Spanish, the stress is usually on the second to last syllable, except for words with an accent mark and certain categories of words that follow different stress rules.

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In Spanish, the position of the stress in a word can change its meaning. The general rule is that the stress falls on the second to last syllable, except for words with an accent mark and certain categories of words that follow different stress rules. For example, the following words all have their stress on the second to last syllable: casa (house), mesa (table), and silla (chair).

However, some categories of words have different stress patterns. For example, words that end in a vowel, -n, or -s are stressed on the second to last syllable. Words that end in a consonant other than -n or -s, like pan (bread) or reloj (watch), are stressed on the last syllable. There are also words with irregular stress patterns, like ángel (angel) and árbol (tree). These words have stress on an unexpected syllable.

A quote from The Real Academia Española, the institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language, states: “La acentuación es parte integrante de las palabras, y la prosodia es el modo de pronunciarlas, a fin de que se comprenda su significado” which translates to “Accentuation is an integral part of words, and prosody is the way of pronouncing them, so that their meaning can be understood.”

Here are some interesting facts on the topic of Spanish stress:

  • Spanish is a syllable-timed language, which means that all syllables are pronounced for the same amount of time. This makes the placement of stress particularly important in conveying meaning.
  • In Spanish, words with two or more syllables are either palabras graves (stress on the second to last syllable), palabras agudas (stress on the last syllable), or palabras esdrújulas (stress on the third to last syllable). Palabras sobresdrújulas (words with stress on the fourth to last syllable or earlier) are very rare.
  • The tilde, or accent mark, is used to indicate the placement of stress on words that do not follow the general stress pattern. For example, the word bebé (baby) has an accent mark to indicate that the stress is on the second syllable.
  • English speakers learning Spanish often struggle with getting the stress right, since English has a different stress pattern. It takes time and practice to get used to the Spanish stress system.
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Here’s a table summarizing the stress patterns in Spanish words:

Type of Word Stress Pattern Examples
Palabras graves Stress on the second to last syllable
Palabras agudas Stress on the last syllable
Palabras esdrújulas Stress on the third to last syllable
Palabras sobresdrújulas Stress on the fourth to last syllable or earlier

See a video about the subject.

In “Spanish Pronunciations Stress and Accents,” the instructor stresses the importance of understanding stress placement in Spanish to determine a word’s meaning. Two rules determine how to place stress. The first rule states that if a word ends in a vowel, n or s, stress should be on the penultimate syllable and, secondly, if a word ends in any other letter besides diphthongs and before n or s, the stress should be on the last syllable. Accents can be used as pronunciation guides, adding extra stress to the vowel they are placed on.

There are also other opinions

In Spanish, the stress in words depends on how the word ends. If the word ends in an -s or an -n or a vowel, then the word stress is on the last but one syllable, otherwise on the last syllable. Syllables with an accent always have the stress. An accent mark is used to indicate that the stress goes on that syllable where the pattern above isn’t followed.

In Spanish the stress in words depends on how the word ends. If the word ends in an -s or an -n or a vowel, then the word stress is on the last but one syllable, otherwise on the last syllable. Syllables with an accent always have the stress. Read more for a more comprehensive explanation…

Spanish words without written accent marks have the stress on the last syllable unless the word ends in s or n, in which case the accent goes on the next-to-last syllable. An accent mark is used to indicate that the stress goes on that syllable where the pattern above isn’t followed.

More interesting questions on the topic

How do you know where the stress is on a word in Spanish?
With regards to stressed syllables in Spanish, there are two key rules to remember: 1: If a word ends with a vowel, or the letters ‘s’ or ‘n’, the penultimate syllable is stressed. 2: If a word ends with a consonant other than ‘s’ or ‘n’, the final syllable is stressed.
How do you identify stressed syllables in Spanish?
Words ending in a vowel (a, e, i, o or u) or -n or -s are normally stressed on the last syllable but one. If this is the case, they do NOT have any written accents. Whenever words ending in a vowel or -n or -s are NOT stressed on the last syllable but one, they have a written accent on the vowel that is stressed.
How do you know where to stress a word?
As a response to this: A stressed syllable combines five features:

  1. It is l-o-n-g-e-r – com p-u-ter.
  2. It is LOUDER – comPUTer.
  3. It has a change in pitch from the syllables coming before and afterwards.
  4. It is said more clearly -The vowel sound is purer.
  5. It uses larger facial movements – Look in the mirror when you say the word.
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How do you use stress in Spanish?
Answer: Okay notice the stress on the second to last.
Where to put stress on a word in Spanish?
The reply will be: If a Spanish word has a written accent, or tilde, the word stress falls on whatever syllable has the tilde. Knowing where to put the stress on a word in Spanish is the difference between pronouncing a word like computadora with great Spanish pronunciation ( kohm-poo-tah-DOH-rah ), instead of Englishy pronunciation ( kohm-POO-tah-doh-rah ).
Can a Spanish word have more than one stressed syllable?
Response to this: Some words may have more than one stressed syllable, though many have just one. If a Spanish word has a tilde, the word stress falls on whatever syllable has the tilde Take a look at these examples of Spanish words with and their pronunciation. If you see a on a Spanish word, it’s important to stress the syllable with the .
Which accent shows stress in Spanish?
In reply to that: Note that the accent that shows stress is always an acute accent in Spanish (´). To remember which way an acute accents slopes try thinking of this saying: It’s low on the left, with the height on the right. Words ending in a vowel (a, e, i, o or u) or -n or -s are normally stressed on the last syllable but one.
Which word has the stress on the last syllable?
A word without an accent mark that ends in other letters has the stress on the last syllable. For example, hotel, hablar, matador, and virtud all have the accent on the final syllable. If a word isn’t pronounced according to the above two rules, an accent is placed over the vowel of the syllable that gets the stress.
Where to put stress on a word in Spanish?
If a Spanish word has a written accent, or tilde, the word stress falls on whatever syllable has the tilde. Knowing where to put the stress on a word in Spanish is the difference between pronouncing a word like computadora with great Spanish pronunciation ( kohm-poo-tah-DOH-rah ), instead of Englishy pronunciation ( kohm-POO-tah-doh-rah ).
Can a Spanish word have more than one stressed syllable?
The answer is: Some words may have more than one stressed syllable, though many have just one. If a Spanish word has a tilde, the word stress falls on whatever syllable has the tilde Take a look at these examples of Spanish words with and their pronunciation. If you see a on a Spanish word, it’s important to stress the syllable with the .
Which accent shows stress in Spanish?
Response: Note that the accent that shows stress is always an acute accent in Spanish (´). To remember which way an acute accents slopes try thinking of this saying: It’s low on the left, with the height on the right. Words ending in a vowel (a, e, i, o or u) or -n or -s are normally stressed on the last syllable but one.
Which word has the stress on the last syllable?
As an answer to this: A word without an accent mark that ends in other letters has the stress on the last syllable. For example, hotel, hablar, matador, and virtud all have the accent on the final syllable. If a word isn’t pronounced according to the above two rules, an accent is placed over the vowel of the syllable that gets the stress.

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