The acute accent used to show meaning - Easy Learning Grammar Spanish
- The acute accent is often used to distinguish between the written forms of some words which are pronounced the same but have a different meaning or function.
|Without an accent||With an accent|
|solo||alone; by oneself; only||sólo||only (to avoid ambiguity)|
|Han robado mi coche.||They’ve stolen my car.|
|A mí no me vio.||He didn’t see me.|
|¿Te gusta tu trabajo?||Do you like your job?|
|Tú, ¿qué opinas?||What do you think?|
|…si no viene||…if he doesn’t come|
|Sí que lo sabe.||Yes, he does know.|
|El puerto está cerca.||The harbour’s nearby.|
|Él lo hará.||He’ll do it.|
|Vino solo.||He came alone or by himself.|
|Sale sólo los sábados.||He only goes out on Saturdays.|
- The acute accent is sometimes used on the demonstrative pronouns (éste/ésta, aquél/aquélla, ése/ésa and so on) to distinguish them from the demonstrative adjectives (este/esta, aquel/aquella, ese/esa and so on).
|¿Por qué robaban aquellos coches viejos? (= adjective)||Why did they steal those old cars?|
|¿Por qué robaban aquéllos coches viejos? (= pronoun)||Why did they steal old cars?|
- Note that no accent is given on the neuter pronouns esto, eso and aquello since there is no adjective form with which they might be confused.
- For more information on Demonstrative adjectives and Demonstrative pronouns, see Demonstrative adjectives.
- An accent is needed on question words in direct and indirect questions as well as after expressions of uncertainty.
|¿Cómo estás?||How are you?|
|Dime cómo estás.||Tell me how you are.|
|Me preguntó cómo estaba.||He asked me how I was.|
|¿Con quién viajaste?||Who did you travel with?|
|¿Dónde encontraste eso?||Where did you find that?|
|No sé dónde está.||I don’t know where it is.|
- For more information on Questions, see Questions.
- An accent is also needed on exclamation words.
|¡Qué asco!||How revolting!|
|¡Qué horror!||How awful!|
|¡Qué raro!||How strange!|
|¡Cuánta gente!||What a lot of people!|
- When deciding whether or not to write an accent on a word, think about how it sounds and what letter it ends in, as there are certain rules to say when an accent should be used.
- The vowels i and u are considered to be weak. The vowels a, e and o are considered to be strong. They can combine in a number of ways.
- Accents are added to written forms of words which are pronounced the same but have a different meaning, for example, mi/mí, tu/tú and so on.
- Accents are also sometimes added to masculine and feminine singular and plural demonstrative pronouns so that they are not confused with demonstrative adjectives.
- Adjectives ending in -ísimo always have an accent on -ísimo, but accents are not affected by adding -mente to adjectives.
- Question words used in direct and indirect questions as well as exclamation words always have an acute accent.