Easy Learning Spanish

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 accentWith an accent
siifyes; himself
soloalone; by oneself; onlysóloonly (to avoid ambiguity)
Han robado mi coche.They’ve stolen my car.
A no me vio.He didn’t see me.
¿Te gusta tu trabajo?Do you like your job?
, ¿qué opinas?What do you think?
si no viene…if he doesn’t come
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.
  • 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!
Key points
  • 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/, tu/ 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.

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