Word Stress in Spanish

In lessons [link to lesson 35 – pronouncing vowels and 36 – pronouncing consonants], we learned how to pronounce the sounds of Spanish. Knowing how to pronounce the letters is only half of knowing how to pronounce a word – you also need to know which syllable to stress. Luckily, there are clear rules to follow.

1. If a word ends in a vowel, an "n" or an "s," the stress is in the next to last syllable (the penultimate syllable).
Perro [dog]
Calculadora [Calculator]
Joven [young]
Manzanas [apples]

2. Words ending in any other letter have the stress on the last syllable.
Hotel [hotel]
Comer [to eat]
Trabajador [hard-working]

3. For any word that does not follow the above rules, an accent is placed over the vowel of the syllable that gets the stress.
Dicil [difficult]
piz [pencil]
Inglés [English]

The only exceptions to the above rules are words borrowed from foreign languages, which usually retain their original stress.

Sometimes accents are placed on certain words to differentiate from homonyms with the same spelling and sound. These accents don't change the word stress because they are already on the accented syllable. These accents are called orthographic accents.
el [the]
él [he]
ésta [this]
está [is]

Related Links:
Pronouncing consonants in Spanish
Spanish Worksheets
Spanish Quizzes
Spanish Games
Spanish FlashCards

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