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

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


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
Luis  fui  huir

Written accents on triphthongs:

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

exception: one-syllable words


Written accent on hiatus:

       Hiatus                  Rule                                    Examples

ae, ao, ea, eo, oe, oa
aa, ee, oo
general rules
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?
Ana, Laura y yo salimos ya.
punto y coma
A ella le encantó; pero a mí no me gustó nada.
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…
( )
Sus hijo (de ella) son muy rubios.
Se llama Rosa López-Andrade.
Me gusta tu vestido dijo Juan.

Note that exclamations and questions carry an opening mark.

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