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Accents & Punctuation
 


Definition - Accents are marks placed on the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) to indicate where the stress in pronunciation falls. Punctuation is a set of marks used in writing (e.g. full stop or period, comma, quotation marks, brackets or parenthesis, etc.)

The most common Spanish accent is the acute accent: á, é, í, ó, ú. This accent does not change the way a letter is pronounced, but it shows where the emphasis falls when pronouncing a word.
The acute accent is also used to distinguish between two words that are written and pronounced in the same way, but have different meanings: for instance, 'él [he]' vs. 'el [the]'.

Some Spanish words are written with a diaeresis ( ¨ ). In Spanish, the diaeresis is used in the groups 'güi' and 'güe' to indicate that that vowel 'ü' is pronounced (if the diaeresis is not present, the vowel 'u' is not spoken).

Spanish has also another mark, called 'tilde'. This mark is used only on the letter 'ñ' to represent a specific sound (similar to the English 'onion').

Examples of accents:
             • lápiz [pencil]
             • café [coffee]
             • país [country]
             • canción [song]
             • tú [you]
             • argüir [to argue]
             • España [Spain]

In written Spanish, a system of double punctuation is used. An upside down question mark is placed at the beginning of a question and the usual question mark is written at the end of it. Similarly, an inverted exclamation mark indicates the beginning of an exclamation, while the ordinary exclamation mark shows the end of the sentence.

Examples of double punctuation:
             • ¿Qué hora es? [What time is it?]
             • ¡Cuidado! [Watch out!]


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