When a word finishes in a vowel (A, E, I, O, U) or in an “N” or an “S” we put the stress/emphasis on the syllable before last if there is no accent present. For example, “cabeza” (head) has three syllables “ca-be-za” and the last letter of the word is the vowel “A”. We stress the “BE” syllable, because this is the penultimate syllable, and pronounce it “caBEza”.
If a word finishes in a vowel, an “N” or an “S”, but the stress doesn´t go on the syllable before last we put and accent on the vowel of the syllable that should be stressed. For example, with the word “Café” (coffee) we have two syllables (“Ca-fé”) and the last letter is a vowel. If there was no accent present we would pronounce it “CA-fe”, with stress on the penultimate syllable. The correct pronunciation, however, is “caFE” and so an accent is placed over the final “E” indicating that the stress should be given to the final syllable “FE”.
Let´s practice highlighting accents and stress together now with a little exercise. I will say various words and give you a bit of time to think if each word needs an accent or not. And if it does, where should the accent be placed, over which vowel? Then I will give you the correct answer.
If you would like to see the meaning of any words you are unsure of please see the lesson notes.
Cama (bed): CAma – no accent
Sofá (sofa): soFA – accent on the A
Canción (song): canCION – accent on the O
Mesa (table): MEsa – no accent
Fantástico (fantastic): fanTAStico – accent on the A of the syllable “tas”
Hablaré (I will speak): hablaRE – accent on the E
Dámelo (Give it to me): DAmelo – accent on the A
Comí (I ate): coMI – accent on the I
Solo (alone): SOlo – no accent
Tarántula (tarantula): taRANtula – accent on the A of “ran”