Do you ever struggle with Spanish pronunciation? Have you often heard teachers go on and on about the importance of pronunciation? As if it’s our one mission in life? Pronunciation is important, of course, but it’s not our top priority. Communication is.
If you’re on a journey to learn Spanish, we hope you’re not feeling pressured by these unwanted memories. Learning a new languages is, and must forever be, an enriching experience.
So if you want to learn more about Spanish pronunciation, we have a piece of advice for you: leave all stress aside… Except for maybe word stress.
What Is Word Stress?
Basically, the emphasised syllable of a word. A stressed syllable is louder, and there’s a difference in pitch. Can’t we all relate.
Knowing which is the stressed syllable in a word is very useful. It might have a say in whether you pronounce dad (papá) or potato (papa). Unlike in English, in Spanish we can ALWAYS tell which is the stressed syllables. How? Boring grammar rules.
They can be quite confusing even for native Spanish-speakers, so please be kind to yourself when (or if) learning this.
Is There a Trick to It?
The golden rule that works 100 percent of the time: if a Spanish word has a graphic accent ( ´ ), that’s where the stress is.
Café (kah-FEH): coffee
Árbol (AHR-bohl): tree
Brócoli (BROH-koh-lee): broccoli
Trágicamente (TRAH-hee-kah-mehn-teh): tragically
What Happens When There Is No Graphic Accent?
- If a word ends in any consonant except n or s, then the last syllable should be emphasised when speaking aloud.
Final (fee-NAHL): end
Hablar (ah-BLAHR): talk
Amistad (ah-mee-STAHD): friendship
- If a words end in n, s or vowel, then stress the second-to-last syllable.
Imagen (ee-MAH-hen): image
Antes (AHN-tehs): before
Cosa (KOH-sah): thing
Really, don’t stress
As we have mentioned, this is a complex concept for native English speakers as it is completely new territory. Take it easy. If you’re not ready to learn this by heart, no judgement here. Little by little it’ll come naturally to you. And hey, if you mispronounce something here or there, who cares? Besides, accents are the most natural, beautiful thing about learning a new language.
Don’t forget to practice some with our online activity below!