In the previous two lessons in this course we have discussed hiatuses and diphthongs and the usual rules of how to pronounce two vowels together in a Spanish word. There are, however, some exceptions to these rules that we should be aware of.
Occasionally a strong and a weak vowel together do not merge as one sound and instead are pronounced as separate syllables. Sometimes also, the same is true with two weak vowels together in a word. In such cases, an accent is used to show how the word should be correctly pronounced. An accent is placed on the vowel that must be stressed. An example of this is the name “María”, where an accent is found above the “I”. Without the accent, the name would be pronounced “Ma-ria” and so, in effect, the accent turns the “I” into a strong vowel.
Let´s see other words where an accent is used to keep a weak vowel from becoming part of a diphthong.
Listen and repeat:
Oído: inner ear
Oír: to hear
María: female name, equivalent to Mary/Marie
Frutería: fruit shop
Reír: to laugh
Maíz: sweet corn
Púa: spine, quill