Introduction to Spanish Accent Rules

accent & stress rules

OBJECTIVE: Learn WHERE the stress is in Spanish words.
TASK: Assimilate the "3 accent rules" through time and observation.
Est-ce que c'est la premiere fois?
About Accents ...
There are three primary rules to remember when dealing with the accent or with how a word is pronounced in Spanish.
First rule:
For Words ending in -a, -e, -i, -o, -u, -n, -s
Second rule:
For Words ending in a consonant (not -n or -s)
Third rule:
Sounding stress not applicable to above = ´ (written accent)

Spanish Studies
Verb Tenses
Verb Conjugation
Grammar Terms
Noun Cognates
Verb Lists
Vocabulary Lists

The following rules tell you how Spanish words and syllables are stressed - where the emphasis occurs in each word. These rules are fairly simple, if you read through them carefully and understand each one as it is presented. Accents are only written in when a word is NOT stressed in accordance with Rule #1 and Rule #2.

Rule #1: All words ending in a vowel  A - E - I - O - U  or with the consonants  N - S  are naturally stressed on the next-to-last syllable.
ki lo gra ma cho co la te
bri llan te bru ja
pro ble ma ro di lla
The following examples are provided at normal speed.
See if you can hear the next-to-last syllable being stressed:
argentino argentina argentinos
chileno chilena chilenos
guatematelco guatematelca guatematelcos
mexicano mexicana mexicanos
venezolano venezolana venezolanos
Notice that all of the above words end in a vowel or an S.

Rule #2: All words that end in any consonant ( except  N - S ) are naturally stressed on the last syllable.
re fri ge ra dor pro te ger
lom briz u ni ver si dad
se ñor a ni mal
The following examples are provided at normal speed.
These words are all verb infinitives, ending in the letter R.
See if you can hear the last syllable being stressed:
abandonar balancear decidir
absolver beneficiar enfatizar
aconsejar calentar especializar
agradecer caracterizar fatigar
avergonzar clasificar identificar
Notice that all of the above words end in an R.

Rule #3: All words that are stressed in any other syllable (not following either of the above rules) MUST have an accent.
mo to no e nér gi co
á gui la au to vil
la ba ár bol


Probably one of the most frustrating factors to the "foreign language teacher" is a lack of concentration on the part of the "foreign language learner."

So frequently a student has developed a mentality of "I kain't lurn thet."

Go figure !!!

If your body had been born in a different country - just as a hypothetical here - that very same tongue you have flapping in your mouth spouting forth "English" would be speaking another language just as easily and as natively - melodiously !!!

Oh, ... you wouldn't "think" about the same things.

And you'd probably be doing a LOT of things differently:

... like putting the stress in words in different places,

... or rolling your R's without any effort,

... or conjugating verbs into indicative/subjunctive to express YOURSELF,

... etc.

In other words, don't give in to thinking it's too much effort!

Really spend time initially WORKING at getting the sounds down.

With diligence, it'll happen for you !!!

Give yourself time, --- and leave frustrations to "the teacher."