“Intonation” refers to pitch, the rising and falling of your voice while speaking. It is important to be clear on intonation because it can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
Spanish intonation is very similar to English intonation. The intonation of statements is flat or down and the pitch of your voice with most questions rises at the end of the question. The main difference between Spanish and English is that in Spanish you nearly always have to use a rising voice intonation with questions, unless a question word such as “dónde” (where), “cuándo” (when) or “cómo” (how) is present. This is because there are no question auxiliary verbs in Spanish such as “do” or “does” and the word order may not change between a statement and a question.
We are going to practice now the intonation of some identical statements and questions to illustrate how and why we intonate in Spanish. For example: “Vives en Barcelona” means “You live in Barcelona” and “¿Vives en Barcelona?” means “Do you live in Barcelona?” Both sentences contain exactly the same words in exactly the same order, but are very different in their significance. Let´s see know more examples. If you would like to see the meaning of any sentences you are unsure of please see the lesson notes.
Listen and repeat:
Estás triste: You are sad
¿Estás triste?: Are you sad?
No les gusta el chocolate: They don´t like chocolate
¿No les gusta el chocolate?: Don´t they like chocolate?
Tiene un abrigo como éste: He/She has a coat like this one
¿Tiene un abrigo como éste?: Has he/she got a coat like this one?
Vamos a cenar a un restaurante: We are going to have dinner in a restaurant
¿Vamos a cenar a un restaurant?: Shall we go to have dinner in a restaurant?
Comes mucho: You eat a lot
¿Comes mucho?: Do you eat a lot?
Eres español: You are Spanish
¿Eres español?: Are you Spanish?
Sonia tiene veinticinco años: Sonia is 25 years old
¿Sonia tiene veinticinco años?: Is Sonia 25 years old?
Viven en Méjico: They live in Mexico
¿Viven en Méjico?: Do they live in Mexico?
Comemos chocolate: We eat chocolate
¿Comemos chocolate?: Shall we eat chocolate?
Va a la playa: He/She goes to the beach
¿Va a la playa?: Does he/she go to the beach?