Spanish spelling / Ortografía española

Spanish spelling is quite different from English spelling. To begin with, Spanish has accent marks.



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1. The written accent
2. Punctuation marks










1. The written accent / La tilde



 These are some easy tips on the written accent:

  1. This ´ is the only accent mark used in Spanish.
  2. Not all stressed syllables carry a written accent.
  3. One-syllable words don’t carry an accent mark. The only exception is seen in next point.
  4. The same word can carry an explicit accent or not, depending on its specific function in the sentence. Examples: el (article) / él (pronoun).


General rules for written accents



     Word type        Rule                                                 Examples

Aguda
ending in a vowel or  -n after a vowel or  -s after a vowel
co- / can-ción
so-fás
Llana
ending in a consonant different from –n or –s, preceded by a vowel
ending in –n or –s, preceded by a consonant
-nar / -piz


-mics
Esdrújula
always
lán-gui-do
Sobresdrújula
always
á-gil-men-te





Written accents on diphthongs follow the general rules. The specific rules to place the explicit accent are as follows:



    Diphthong                Rule                                    Examples

ai, au, ei, eu, oi, ou
ia, ua, ie, ue, io, uo
stressed a, e, o before or after i, u
exception: one-syllable words
u-nión la-váis béis-bol
vais  ion  truhan
iu, ui
stressed final vowel
exception: one-syllable words
ben-juí
Luis  fui  huir



Written accents on triphthongs:


   Triphthong              Rule                                    Examples
    (possible)
iai, iau, uai, uau iei, ieu, uei, ueu, ioi, iou,  uoi, uou
stressed a, e, o between i, u

exception: one-syllable words
a-so-ciáis

guiar



Written accent on hiatus:


       Hiatus                  Rule                                    Examples

ae, ao, ea, eo, oe, oa
aa, ee, oo
general rules
pe-ón
ai, au, ei, eu, oi, ou
stressed i,u: always
la-úd  pa-ís




2. Punctuation marks / Los signos de puntuación


Punctuation marks have a similar use in Spanish. As sentences are usually longer than in English, some marks are widely used.


Here is a list of the most important ones and an example of their use:


 Mark        Name                                         Examples

¡ !
signos de exclamación
¡Qué frío!
¿ ?
signos de interrogación 
¿Qué hacemos?
,
coma
Ana, Laura y yo salimos ya.
;
punto y coma
A ella le encantó; pero a mí no me gustó nada.
.
punto
Hacía mucho frío. Se acercaba el otoño.
:
dos puntos
Hay dos menúsnormal y de dieta.
puntos suspensivos
Me gusta el cine, el baile, la lectura…
( )
paréntesis
Sus hijo (de ella) son muy rubios.
-
guion
Se llama Rosa López-Andrade.
raya
Me gusta tu vestido dijo Juan.



Note that exclamations and questions carry an opening mark.




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