Lecciones de Español

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7 One-syllable Words that Break the Accent Rule

Generally speaking, one-syllable words in Spanish don't need a graphic accent (tilde) even if they are tonic (words that are stressed when pronounced). Some examples of tonic one-syllable words include the following nouns:

 

sal (salt)

mar (sea)

mes (month)

fe (faith)

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Besides nouns, there are several one-syllable words that come from the conjugations of some verbs. Just as the nouns we mentioned before, these words don't need a graphic accent either. Let's see some examples:

 

Él los vio a los ladrones. ¿Usted vio a los ladrones?

He saw the thieves. Did you see the thieves?

Captions 16-17, Yago 6 Mentiras - Part 7

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No sabemos si fue el lunes o si fue el martes.

We don't know if it was on Monday or it was on Tuesday.

Caption 5, El Aula Azul Dos historias

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With that being said, there are some important exceptions of one-syllable words in Spanish that do need a graphic accent. This kind of accent is called in Spanish tilde diacrítica and we use it to avoid confusion between one-syllable words that have the same spelling but different meanings. Let's take a look.

 

1. él vs. el

Personal pronoun

Los niños y los adultos se ríen mucho con él.

Kids and adults laugh a lot with him.

Caption 54, El Aula Azul Las Profesiones - Part 2

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Definitive article

tenemos el brazo.

we have the arm.

Caption 9, Marta de Madrid El cuerpo - El tronco

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2. más vs. mas

Except when it acts as a conjunction of contrast (just like the word pero (but)), the one-syllable word más always has a graphic accent.

 

empecé más o menos a los diecisiete años a tocar instrumentos y a cantar a un nivel más avanzado.

I started to play instruments at about seventeen years old and to sing at a more advanced level.

Captions 18-19, Cleer Entrevista con Jacky

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3. mí vs. mi

When it works as a personal pronoun, you need to put the graphic accent.  

Pueden confiar en .

You can trust me.

Caption 11, Guillermina y Candelario Mi Primer Tesoro

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However, when it works as a possessive adjective, it doesn't need a graphic accent.

En mi barrio hay una farmacia.

In my neighborhood there is a pharmacy.

Caption 4, El Aula Azul Mi Barrio

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4. sé vs. se

Form of the verbs ser (to be) and saber (to know)

Que sí, mamá, que ya que siempre se olvida de mi cumpleaños,

Yes, Mom, I know that he always forgets my birthday,

Caption 1, Cortometraje Beta - Part 1

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Personal pronoun and reflexive

El martes se me perdieron las llaves de casa,

On Tuesday, my house keys got lost,

Caption 14, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: El pronombre "se"

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Ella no quería acostarse con Ivo Di Carlo,

She didn't want to sleep with Ivo Di Carlo,

Caption 61, Muñeca Brava 48 - Soluciones - Part 1

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5. sí vs. si

Reflexive pronoun and adverb of affirmation

, vine porque Aldo me había hecho una propuesta

Yes, I came because Aldo had made a suggestion

Caption 3, Yago 14 La peruana - Part 9

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Conditional conjunction

Si me dejan en la calle me arreglo

If they leave me on the street I manage

Caption 2, Jorge Celedón, Vicentico Si Me Dejan

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6. té vs. te

Noun

¿Quién no se despierta con una taza de café o de un buen ?

Who doesn't wake up with a cup of coffee or good tea?

Caption 39, Aprendiendo con Karen Utensilios de cocina

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Personal pronoun and reflexive

La que yo guardo donde te escribí, que te sueño y que te quiero tanto

The one I keep where I wrote to you, that I dream of you and that I love you so much

Caption 9, Carlos Vives, Shakira La Bicicleta

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7. tú vs. tu

Personal pronoun

Rachel, ¿qué quieres ?

Rachel, what do you want?

Caption 2, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 3

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Possessive adjective

para tu salud, tan importante para tu estilo de vida

for your health, as important for your lifestyle

Caption 52, Natalia de Ecuador Alimentos para el desayuno

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That's it for today. We encourage you to learn all these one-syllable words as they are used quite often in Spanish. If you master them, you will be able to avoid common writing mistakes. If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to contact us

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