Tilde VS Accent | How to pronounce Spanish words you do NOT know

Spanish speakers don’t know all the words in the dictionary, but they can pronounce them thanks to repetition or this trick. You may find it difficult, but if you practice you will realize that it is the best way to know how to pronounce words.

What is the tilde

The tilde is the graphic mark that indicates where the accent is in some words. It is a small slanted line that is always placed above the vowel of the strongest sounding syllable. It is never placed over a consonant.

What is the accent

The intensity with which a syllable is pronounced. That is, the variation in pitch when pronouncing the syllable of a word.

When the word has a tilde, it is easy to know where to apply the intensity when pronouncing a word, but… how do you pronounce a word when there is no accent? There are three kinds of words: agudas, llanas and esdrújulas.

Types of words

AGUDAS
They have the strength of voice in the last syllable. They are accented only when they end in N, S or vowel. For example: AVIÓN. SIMILITUD. ORACIÓN. EMBALSAMAR.

LLANAS
They are voiced on the penultimate syllable. They have a stress when they do NOT end in N, S or Vowel. For example: JORNADA. CAMA. ESTÁNDAR. FÁCIL.

ESDRÚJULAS
They are voiced on the third syllable. They always have a stress. For example: MURCIÉLAGO. DIDÁCTICO. ANÓNIMO. ÁRBITRO.

How to pronounce a word

1. Is this word is an esdrújula? 1) Yes, it has a TILDE on the third syllable. 2) No, it does not have a TILDE on the third syllable.

2. Does it have a stress on the last or penultimate syllable? 1) Yes. It’s easy, that’s where we have to stress the force of the voice. 2) No. It does not have a tilde.

3. AGUDA or LLANA? Look at what it ends in N, S or VOWEL vs. Consonant. 

Let’s practice!

We are going to choose the word “Embalsamar”. And then, we will follow the steps.

Question 1: It is not esdrújula. No, it does not have a TILDE on the third syllable.
Question 2: It has no TILDE.
Question 3: It ends in R. If it were LLANA, it would have a stress because they have a stress when they do NOT end in N, S or Vowel. Therefore, it is AGUDA.

Now you know how to pronounce this word!


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Annabel

Annabel

Técnica en Marketing Internacional. Graduada en Trabajo Social y colegiada en el CPTS de Cádiz. Autora de ficción con más de una decena de novelas publicadas. Escritora de romántica para adultos bajo seudónimo. Blogueando desde 2011.

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