When a word finishes in a consonant, excluding an “N” or an “S”, we put the stress/emphasis on the last syllable if there is no accent present. For example, “Trabajar” (to work) has three syllables “Tra-ba-jar” and the last letter of the word is an “R”. Therefore, the stressed syllable is the last one “JAR” and we pronounce the word “TrabaJAR”.
If a word finishes in a consonant that is not “N” or “S” but the stress doesn´t go on the last syllable we put and accent on the vowel of the stressed syllable. For example, with the word “Árbol” (tree) there are two syllables “Ár-bol” and the last letter is a consonant other than an “N” or an “S”, so without an accent the pronunciation would be “ArBOL” with the last syllable stressed. However, the correct pronunciation of this word is “ARbol”, with the stress on the syllable “AR”. Therefore an accent is placed on the first “A” (Árbol) to indicate how it should be correctly pronounced.
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.
Comprar (to buy): comPRAR – no accent
Lápiz (pencil): LApiz – accent on the A
Frágil (fragile): FRAgil – acent on the A
Color (colour): coLOR – no accent
Fácil (easy): FAcil – accent on the A
Feliz (happy): feLIZ – no accent
Carácter (character): caRACter – accent on the A of “rac”
Álbum (album): ALbum – accent on the A on “al”
Pastel (cake): pasTEL – no accent
Azul (blue): aZUL – no accent