Spanish words, where is stress / intonation?

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Stress rules in Spanish words.

  • If the stress is in the last syllable, the word will have a written accent ( ´ ) if finishes in “n”, “s” or a vowel.
  • If the stress is in the syllable just before the last one the word will have a written accent ( ´ ) if DOESN’T finish in “n”, “s” or a vowel (what I mean is: if the stress is in that syllable, the word has a written accent if finishes in anything but “n”, “s” or vowel).
  • If the stress is in the third last one or before, the word always has the written accent.

How to use these rules in order to know where the stress is

1)      If there is a written accent, the stress is in the syllable with the written accent

Ex: jaro (bird), ana(pineapple), cráter (crater), último (last one), trópico (tropic), almohadón (cushion, remember the “h” doesn´t have any sound), cáncer

2)      If there is not a written accent, look at the last letter in the word

Ex: cantar (to sing), pared (wall), muro (wall), ladrillo (brick), espada (sword), cantan (they sing), cantas (you sing), cartel (sign), reloj (watch), alud (landslip).

a)      if is “n”, “s” or a vowel, the stress will be in the second last syllable
Ex: muro, ladrillo, espada, cantan, cantas,

b)      if is anything but “n”, “s” or a vowel, the stress will be in the last syllable
Ex: cantar, cartel, reloj, alud

Note: all infinitive verbs finish in “r” (“ar”, “er”, “ir”), so all the infinitives have the stress in the las syllable.

You can use the same criteria for all conjugations of regular verbs. Ex: the end for the  1st person singular (yo) present is “o”, which is a vowel, so everytime you have a verb in first person singular present, the stress is in the second las syllable. Ex: (yo) bailo, yo como, yo aprendo, yo espero.

But if you don´t want to remember extra rules, you just need 1), 2)a) and 2)b)

Ok, here you have some words, lets practice (the answers at the end):

rico (tasty or rich)

caro (expensive)

mágico (magic, adj)

magia (magic, noun)

triste (sad)

salir (to exit)

botella (bottle)

carpeta (fólder)

mientras (while)

violín (violin)

música (music)

canción (song)

nota (note)

anillo (ring)

trébol (clover)

pilar (column)

árbol (tree)

barco (boat)

avión (plane)

puerta (door)

romper (to brake)

español (Spanish)

rico  2)a)

caro  2)a)

gico 1)

magia 2)a)

triste 2)a)

salir 2)b)

botella 2)a)

carpeta 2)a)

mientras 2)a)

violín 1)

sica 1)

canción 1)

nota 2)a)

anillo 2)a)

trébol 1)

pilar 2)a)

árbol 1)

barco 2)a)

avión 1)

puerta 2)a)

romper 2)b)

español 2)b

I´ve created this text for my friend Holly, I hope it can help you too.


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