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Published on: Grammar Bites

The accent mark in Spanish on similar monosyllables

When we have two words (typically monosyllables) that sound and look the same, but have a different meaning, we need to use the an accent mark to help us tell them apart. This type of accent mark is known as tilde diacrítica.

Let’s take a look at the most common cases of tilde diacrítica and how the accent marks changes the meaning of the word:

The accent mark in Spanish on similar monosyllables - Easy Español

Examples:

  • eres una persona maravillosa. You are a wonderful person.
  • Tu mochila está muy bonita. Your backpack is very nice.
  • Te informo que mañana no hay clases. I’m informing you that there won’t be any classes tomorrow.
  • Yo quiero un verde por favor. I would like a green tea, please.
  • Mi cabeza está llena de ideas. My head is full of ideas.
  • Esta carta es para mí. This letter is for me.

We can also find el acento diacrítico in interrogative pronouns like ¿Qué, Quién, Cuándo, Cómo, Cuál, Dónde? and exclamation pronouns like ¡Cómo, Qué, Cómo, Quién, Cuánto!:

  • ¿Quién tomó los libros de mi escritorio? Who took the books from my desk?
  • ¿Cuándo sales de viaje? When do you leave for your trip?
  • ¡Cuánto tiempo sin vernos! Long time no see!
  • ¡Qué caro está todo! Everything is so expensive!

We must use la tilde diacrítica in interrogative and exclamation pronouns to tell them apart from when we use these same words as relative pronouns or conjunctions, as in: que, quien, cuando, como, cual, donde:

  • Yo no pienso que ustedes sean buenos amigos. = conjunción. I don’t think that you are good friends.
  • Como ustedes llegaron tarde, no fuimos al cine. = conjunción causal. Since you arrived late, we didn’t go to the movies.
  • La razón por la cual estoy aquí es que quiero aprender la lengua. = pronombre relativo. I’m here because I want to learn the language.
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