Word stress

In Spanish, every word is pronounced with the stress (extra vocal emphasis) on one syllable.

cantante, ca, dicil.

singer, coffee, difficult. 

A word with an accent (á, é, í, ó, ú) carries the stress on the syllable it appears in:

aquí, árbol, gico, Arica, proteína.

 here, tree, logical, America, protein.

A word without an accent carries the stress on the:

  • last syllable: if it ends in a consonant (except for -n or -s):

pastor, ciudad, nariz, preguntar.

shepherd, city, nose, to ask.

  • penultimate syllable: if it ends in an -n, -s or vowel:

examen, canto, estupendos.

exam, song, marvelous

Note: one-syllable words never have an accent (fue/went, vio/saw, dios/god), except to differentiate them from another word with the same spelling.

él es alto, el coche de Ana.

he is tall, Ana's car (literally "the car of Ana").

eres alta, esa es tu casa.

you are tall, that is your house.

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