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Sometimes a stressed syllable that needs an accent contains two vowels.
For example, the word “después” (after, later) has two syllables “des-pués”. The stress is on the second syllable and the last letter of the word is an “S” and so, according to the rules discussed in previous lessons, we should put an accent on the vowel, but the question is on which vowel? In such cases the accent and stress is placed on the strong vowel. The strong vowels are “A”, “E” and “O” and the weak vowels are “I” and “U”, so with the word “después” the stressed syllable contains a “U” and an “E” and we therefore put the accent on the “E”.
When two strong vowels are located together in a word we pronounce them in separate syllables. For example, the word “area” (area) has three syllables “a-re-a” and we pronounce it “area”. When there is a weak and a strong vowel located together we pronounce it as a single syllable. For example, the word “ciudad” (city) has two syllables “ciu-dad” and we pronounce it “ciudad”. There are occasions, however, when a weak and a strong vowel are located together and pronounced in separate syllables and in such cases an accent is placed on the weak vowel. For example, the word “librería” (book shop) has four syllables “li-bre-rí-a” and an accent is placed on the “I”. Without the accent it would be incorrectly pronounced “li-bre-ria”.
I will now say some Spanish words that have two vowels located together and I will give you a bit of time to decide how many syllables are in each word. If you would like to know the meaning of any words you are unsure of, please see my lesson notes:
Farmacia (pharmacy): 3 syllables Far-ma-cia
Cuidar (to look after): 2 syllables Cui-dar
Frutería (fruit shop): 4 syllables Fru-te-rí-a
Estudió (he/she studied): 3 syllables Es-tu-dió
Tontería (silly thing, nonsense): 4 syllables Ton-te-rí-a
Armario (wardrobe): 3 syllables Ar-ma-rio
Huésped (guest): 2 syllables Hués-ped
Cueva (cave): 2 syllables Cue-va
Sabio (wise): 2 syllables Sa-bio
Rocío (dew): 3 syllables Ro-cí-o
Next, I will repeat the same words and I would like you to decide if the word needs a written accent and, if so, on which letter:
Farmacia (pharmacy): No accent
Cuidar (to look after): No accent
Frutería (fruit shop): Accent on the I
Estudió (he/she studied): Accent on the O
Tontería (silly thing, nonsense): Accent on the I
Armario (wardrobe): No accent
Huésped (guest): Accent on the E
Cueva (cave): No accent
Sabio (wise): No accent
Rocío (dew): Accent on the I

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