Understanding where to place written accents in Spanish (called tildes) is very hard at first. However, tildes follow certain rules, so once you know them, you won’t have problem to figure out how to use them correctly. Tildes in Spanish play a pivotal role in the language. Among others, they indicate the reader the word stress; they distinguish identically spelled words. and they mark the sentence as a statement, question or exclamation.

The first rule to know about tildes is that if the word ends in a vowel or “n” or “s”, the tilde is not required because the stress automatically falls on the penultimate syllable. These words are called “palabras llanas”. Example: bonito (bon-i-to) stresses on “I” and there’s no tilde. Hablan (hab-lan) stresses on the first “a” because the word ends in “n” and the accent goes to the penultimate syllable.

Second rule: when the word ends in a consonant (other than “n” or “s”), the tilde is not required and the emphasis goes on the last syllable. These category is called “palabras agudas”. Some words that exemplify this rule are: edad (e-dad); ciudad (ciu-dad) both words stresses on “a”.

All the words that don’t place the accent according to the rules above, require the tilde to alert the reader that the accent is placed on a certain vowel contrary to what he expects. Let’s look at some examples to better understand it:

Canción (can-ción). The tilde here is essential, because if we were following the second rule, we would have stressed the “a” instead of “o”.

Fácil (fá-cil) The second rule would say to stress “i”, for this reason, the tilde here is required.

Other than this, tildes are also used to:

  • Stress the weak vowel (i/u) when the word presents 2 vowels close to each other.

Example: ría – día

  • Distinguish monosyllabe words that have the same spelling.

Tú (you) – Tu (your)

Sí (yes) – Si (if)

Él (he) – El (the)

Mí (me) – mi (my)

Té (tea) – te (you,yourself)

Sé (I know) – se (him/herself)


  • Differentiate a question from a statement:

¿Por qué? (why) – Por que (because)

¿Cómo? (how) – Como (like)

¿Qué? What, how? – Que (that, which)

¿Cuál? Which? – Cual (as, which)

¿Cuánto(s)? how much/how many? – Cuanto(s) (as much/as many)

¿Adónde? (To where?) – Adonde (where/to the house of someone)

Example: ¿Adónde vas a ir mañana? Mañana por la tarde voy adonde mis tíos.


  • Distinguish the present tense from the past tense (for regular -ar verbs) and the first person singular from the third person singular


Hablo con ella (I talk to her)

Habló con ella (He/She talked to her)


That’s all for today, we hope you found it useful and if you have any question, don’t hesitate to contact us!


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