Spanish can be a tricky language to learn. While it does share many similar words with English, the grammar is nothing alike. This is why an English to Spanish translation online can yield bizarre results. One area where Spanish is arguably much easier than English is spelling and pronunciation. With a couple of exceptions, the rules are straightforward. But something strange an English speaker without knowledge of Spanish will encounter is the use of accent marks that modify the pronunciation of certain letters.
Here’s a crash course on what all those accent marks mean.
Tilde: This is the word for the squiggly line above the ñ that you see in words like español. The letter ñ in Spanish is called “enye” and pronounced exactly that way, like an and y together. Without the tilde, you could think of the word español spelled espanyol to indicate a similar pronunciation.
Diaeresis: Known as an umlaut in German, these two dots are found in Spanish above the letter u in specific circumstances. Normally, when the letter g is followed by the letter u, the sound produced is a guttural stop or a hard g. An example in English is the g sound in got, or gun. But when you should pronounce both the g and u, which is pronounced similarly to gw in English, this is indicated with a diaeresis.
Acute accent mark: Here’s where it starts to get a little tricky but bear with me. There are a few different uses for an acute accent mark (the right-angled vertical dash above a vowel) in Spanish. Here’s a brief description of each use:
Is your head spinning yet? Spanish, like English, has exceptions to just about every rule. But don’t get overwhelmed, instead leave your Spanish content up to the professionals. Get in touch to learn more.