Let's start this lesson with a little question. Let's take the following sentence:
Me gusta Caravaggio, porque bueno, estudié en Italia,
I like Caravaggio, because well, I studied in Italy,
Caption 88, María Marí Su pasión por su arte - Part 1Play Caption
In Spanish, what do you call the little diagonal line above the final "é" in the word estudié? Do you call it acento? Or, do you call it tilde? Do you know what is the difference between tilde and acento?
If you are an English speaker, the first thing to know is that the word tilde in English doesn't have the same exact meaning as the word tilde in Spanish. In fact, in English the definition is quite clear:
1 : a mark ˜ placed especially over the letter n (as in Spanish señor sir) to denote the sound \nʸ\ or over vowels (as in Portuguese irmã sister) to indicate nasality (Merriam-Webster).
However, the definition of tilde in Spanish is kind of ambiguous and creates a bit of confusion. According to the Diccionario de la lengua española, tilde can be referred to the following:
1. acento (accent) as in the sentence Raúl se escribe con tilde en la u (Raúl is written with accent on the "u").
2. sign in the shape of a line, sometimes wavy, that is part of some letters such as the letter "ñ".
If we take that definition, we can see that the term tilde in Spanish can be used for both the tilde over the ñ as well as accent marks over vowels:
However, it is worth to say that the symbol over the letter "ñ" is also known as virgulilla.
As we previously saw, the Diccionario de la lengua española uses the term acento (accent) as the first definition for the word tilde. However, that brings even more ambiguity since the word acento has various meanings in Spanish. In fact, it can refer to the following:
1. The stress you put on the syllable of a given word
2. The graphic sign you put on some vowels
3. The diagonal line that you place on the vowels of stressed syllables in words such as cámara (camera) or útil (useful)
4. The way of speaking of certain people
As you can see, the definition of tilde and acento can be confusing. However, it is best to use the word acento when you are referring to the stress or emphasis you give to a particular syllable. On the other hand, if you want to refer to the graphic accent you put on top of some vowels, it is better to use the word tilde. Let's see some examples:
Ratón (mouse): Acento (in the last syllable 'tón'), tilde (on the 'ó' of the last syllable)
Amor (love): Acento (in the last syllable 'mor'), tilde (it doesn't have a tilde)
That's it for today. We hope you enjoy this lesson. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to hear back from you.
Let’s talk about accentuation and pronunciation. Today, we’ll discuss the so-called palabras esdrújulas (proparoxytone words). That’s a weird name, isn’t? Before we talk about palabras esdrújulas, we need to remember something important.
As we previously mentioned, all words in Spanish are stressed on one syllable. Depending on where that stress falls, words are divided into the following groups:
Palabras agudas (oxytone words) | accent on the last syllable
Palabras graves (paroxytone words) | accent on the second-to-last syllable
Palabras esdrújulas (proparoxytone words) | accent on the third-to-last syllable
Palabras sobresdrújulas (over-proparoxytone words) | accent on any syllable before the third-to-last syllable
Let’s get into palabras esdrújulas with the following example:
Palabras como micrófono, pirámide
Words like "micrófono," [microphone], "pirámide" [pyramid]Play Caption
The word micrófono has four syllables (mi | cró | fo | no) and the stress goes on the third-to-last syllable “cró.” Similarly, the word pirámide has four syllables (pi | rá | mi |de) and the stress also goes on the third-to-last syllable “rá.”
If you noticed it, the two proparoxytone words that we just mentioned bear a graphic accent (tilde) on their stressed syllables. And that’s exactly the beauty of the palabras esdrújulas. Unlike palabras agudas and palabras graves, which follow complex rules regarding the use of the graphic accent, the esdrújulas ALWAYS need to have a graphic accent. Let’s see more examples:
También nos dedicamos a música clásica.
Also, we do classical music.
Caption 13, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana PatyPlay Caption
ya construimos la cámara para grabar la película.
we already built the camera to film the movie.Play Caption
Yo realmente prefiero no dar mi número de mi tarjeta de crédito por teléfono.
I really prefer not to give my credit card number on the phone.
Caption 50, Cleer y Lida Reservando una habitaciónPlay Caption
As you can see from the examples above, there are lots of palabras esdrújulas in the Spanish language and some of them are quite common. Before we go, one last curious thing to remember:
The word esdrújula is also a esdrújula word!
That's it for now. If you feel like practicing a little bit more, take one of our videos and try to find all the proparoxytone words in it. And of course, don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you ready to learn some hard Spanish words? Don’t worry! We don’t want to scare you but rather we would like to highlight some of the issues that transform even simple words into difficult ones. Let’s review the following list featuring 100 of the most difficult Spanish words for English speakers.
Pronunciation is definitely the issue to keep in mind when we talk about hard Spanish words. In fact, if you are a native English speaker, there are several sounds that are quite challenging. Let’s start with some of the most difficult words to pronounce in Spanish for English speakers. We have divided these words in groups according to the pronunciation challenge they represent.
For many foreigners, words with the letter “j” are some of the most difficult Spanish words to say. If you are an English speaker, you can try to say the “j” in Spanish as a very strong “h” in English. Think of how you pronounce the letter “h” in the word ham. Let’s take a look:
1. Ají (chili or bell pepper)
"Ají" [chili pepper]?
Caption 37, Ricardo - La compañera de casa - Part 3Play Caption
2. Bajo (short)
Es bajo, es gordo,
He's short, he's fat,
Caption 33, El Aula Azul Mis PrimosPlay Caption
3. Caja (box)
y ellos también mandaron una caja grandísima
and they also sent a huge boxPlay Caption
4. Anaranjado (orange)
Adentro, son de color anaranjado.
Inside, they are orange-colored.Play Caption
5. Empujar (to push)
6. Equipaje (luggage)
¿Puedo dejar aquí mi equipaje?
Can I leave my luggage here?
Caption 59, Cleer y Lida - Recepción de hotelPlay Caption
7. Espantapájaros (scarecrow)
8. Cojear (to limp)
9. Injusticia (injustice)
10. Jamón (ham)
Fíjate: jamón, Javier.
Check it out: ham, Javier.
Caption 27, Fundamentos del Español - 10 - La PronunciaciónPlay Caption
11. Jirafa (giraffe)
12. Jornada (day)
13. Jota (J - the sound of the letter J in Spanish)
14. Jugar (to play)
También podemos jugar a las cartas,
We can also play cards,
Caption 12, Clara y Cristina - Hablan de actividadesPlay Caption
15. Junio (June)
16. Lujoso (luxurious)
17. Lejano (far, far away)
Érase una vez en un lejano reino, ahí vivía una joven niña.
Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom, there lived a young girl.
Caption 2, Cuentos de hadas - La Cenicienta - Part 1Play Caption
18. Majo (nice)
19. Mojado (wet)
20. Pájaro (bird)
21. Sonrojar (to blush)
22. Tajada (slice)
Just as it happens with the letter “j,”, there are several tricky words in Spanish with the letter “g”. What’s hard about this consonant is that there is a soft and a hard way to pronounce it. For example, you have a soft “g” in the word gato (cat). Think about the pronunciation of the syllable “ga” in the word gather. On the other hand, you have a hard “g” in the word gente (people), which is kind of similar to how you pronounce the “h” in the word helmet. Let’s see some tough Spanish words with the letter “g”:
23. Acogedor (cozy, welcoming)
Perfecto, porque es un barco muy marinero, muy acogedor para la gente,
Perfect, because it's a very seaworthy boat, very welcoming for the people,
Caption 16, La Gala - El bote de DalíPlay Caption
24. Agente (agent)
25. Agitar (shake)
26. Aguja (needle)
27. Agujero (hole)
Tiene un cuerpo con un agujero en el centro
It has a body with a hole in the center
Caption 45, Karla e Isabel - Instrumentos musicalesPlay Caption
28. Apagar (to turn off)
29. Coger (to take, to get)
El segundo paso es coger la cebolla,
The second step is to get the onion,
Caption 25, Clara cocina - Una tortilla españolaPlay Caption
30. Garganta (throat)
Me duele la garganta,
My throat hurts,
Caption 11, Ariana - Cita médicaPlay Caption
31. General (general)
En general, los nombres acabados en "a" son femeninos
In general, nouns ending in "a" are feminine
Caption 10, Fundamentos del Español - 2 - Nombres y GéneroPlay Caption
32. Geneaología (genealogy)
33. Geología (geology)
34. Gigante (giant, gigantic)
Una de las piezas más llamativas es este ajedrez gigante.
One of the most appealing pieces is this gigantic chess board.Play Caption
35. Ginecólogo (gynecologist)
36. Girasol (sunflower)
37. Guapo (handsome)
38. Juguetón (playful)
39. Tangible (tangible)
40. Tigre (tiger)
41. Zoológico (zoo)
There are plenty of tricky words in Spanish with the strong sound of the double “rr”. The following are some of them:
42. Aburrido (bored)
Ah, esto está muy aburrido, ni siquiera se entiende.
Oh, this is very boring, you can't even understand it.
Caption 24, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 2 - Part 4Play Caption
43. Carrera (career)
El presidente empezó su carrera política...
The president began his political career...
Caption 29, Lecciones con Carolina - El gerundio - Part 2Play Caption
44. Carretera (road)
45. Carro (car)
¿Ha venido en carro?
Have you come in a car?
Caption 64, Cleer y Lida - Recepción de hotelPlay Caption
46. Correr (to run)
47. Desarrollar (Develop)
Pero el reto era desarrollar proyectos de biomedicina,
But the challenge was to develop biomedical projects,
Caption 10, Club de las ideas - Lego Fest en SevillaPlay Caption
48. Error (mistake)
Esto es un error
This is a mistakePlay Caption
49. Ferrocarril (railroad, train)
en un carrito tipo ferrocarril tirado por un caballo
in a little train-like car pulled by a horsePlay Caption
50. Garrote (club)
51. Guerra (war)
La palabra más fea es guerra.
The ugliest word is war.
Caption 61, Karla e Isabel - PalabrasPlay Caption
52. Guitarra (guitar)
53. Herradura (horseshoe)
54. Irresponsable (irresponsible)
55. Morral (backpack)
56. Ornitorrinco (platypus)
57. Perro (dog)
Se escucha un perro.
You can hear a dog.Play Caption
58. Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican)
Without any doubt, words that have a syllable where the consonant “t” is followed by the consonant “r,” are some of the most difficult words for English speakers to pronounce in Spanish. If you want to improve this sound, please listen carefully to some of the audio clips we have included for the next set of words.
59. Abstracto (abstract)
60. Astronomía (astronomy)
61. Astrología (astrology)
y voy a entender lo que es la astrología.
and I am going to understand what astrology is.
Caption 60, Conversaciones con Luis - AstrologíaPlay Caption
62. Atracción (atraction)
Porque es en el centro... el sitio donde hay mayor atracción
Because it's at the center... the place where there are more attractions
Caption 21, Yabla en Lima - MirafloresPlay Caption
63. Cuatro (four)
Número cuatro: microscopio.
Number four: microscope.Play Caption
64. Entretener (to entertain)
65. Entretenido (entertaining)
66. Patrón (patron)
67. Patrulla (patrol)
68. Petróleo (oil)
69. Poltrona (easy chair)
70. Potro (colt)
71. Tradicion (tradition)
uno de los mitos más conocidos de la tradición indígena colombiana,
one of the best known myths of the indigenous Colombian tradition,Play Caption
72. Traicionar (to betray)
73. Trampa (trap)
No, no, me tendió una trampa y yo caí.
No, no, she set a trap for me and I fell into it.
Caption 29, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro - Part 7Play Caption
74. Treinta y tres (thirty-three)
treinta y tres,
75. Tres (three)
76. Trilogía (trilogy)
I am sad.
Caption 10, El Aula Azul - Estados de ánimoPlay Caption
78. Tronco (trunk)
Unlike English, Spanish vowels are very clearly defined. Five vowels equals five sounds, period. While that may sound simple, the problem is that English speakers are used to pronouncing vowels in many more different ways. Here are some hard Spanish words that highlight this challenge.
79. Aguacate (avocado)
Este es guacamole hecho con aguacate...
This is guacamole made with avocado...
Caption 33, Tacos Emmanuel - Cómo hacer tacos de pescadoPlay Caption
80. Estadounidense (American)
Paul es estadounidense, de los Estados Unidos.
Paul is American, from the United States.
Caption 16, Carlos explica - Geografía y gentiliciosPlay Caption
81. Eucalipto (eucalyptus)
82. Euforia (euphoria)
83. Idiosincrasia (idiosyncrasy)
84. Licuadora (blender)
85. Paraguas (umbrella)
Voy a coger un paraguas, por si acaso.
I am going to grab an umbrella, just in case.
Caption 42, Clara explica - El tiempo - Part 1Play Caption
86. Triángulo (triangle)
Después pones este triángulo con la base hacia abajo.
Afterwards you put this triangle with the base toward the bottom.Play Caption
87. Vergüenza (shame)
There is a ‘cute’ joke in Spanish that goes like this:
- Do you know what the longest word in Spanish is?
- No. What is it?
- Arroz (rice)!
- Arroz? That’s a very short word.
- No, arroz is the longest word in Spanish because it starts with ‘a’ and ends with ‘z’!
Of course, that’s only a joke! Arroz is one of the easiest words in Spanish. However, the following are some of the most challenging and longest Spanish words:
88. Electroencefalograma (electroencephalogram)
89. Esternocleidomastoideo (sternocleidomastoid)
90. Contrarrevolucionario (counter-revolutionary)
91. Constitucionalidad (constitutionality)
92. Internacionalización (internalization)
93. Otorrinolaringólogo (otolaryngologist)
Apart from these very complicated words, all those adverbs that end in -mente are also some of the longest Spanish words. Let’s look at a few:
94. Constitucionalmente (constitutionally)
95. Desafortunadamente (unfortunately)
Cuando tú creces, desafortunadamente te das cuenta que
When you grow up, unfortunately, you realize that
Caption 23, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 9Play Caption
96. Desconsoladamente (inconsolably)
97. Fuertemente (heavily)
98. Tradicionalmente (traditionally)
Y nos dedicamos al cultivo del champiñón tradicionalmente.
And we are dedicated to the cultivation of the mushroom traditionally.Play Caption
99. Tristemente (sadly)
And finally, can you think of any Spanish word that has all the vowels on it? We have a long word for you, which is actually quite short in English:
100. Murciélago (bat)
La palabra más larga es murciélago.
The longest word is bat.
Caption 43, Karla e Isabel - PalabrasPlay Caption
That's it for now. We know that there are many more hard Spanish words that we should include in this list. If you feel like it, please share some additional difficult Spanish words with us, and we’ll be happy to add them to this lesson. And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions. ¡Hasta la próxima!
In this lesson, we’ll talk about Spanish words that have the accent on the second-to-last syllable. We call these words palabras graves. In a previous lesson, we talked about palabras agudas, which are words with the accent on the last syllable.
Before we talk about palabras graves, let’s briefly discuss the meaning of the word “accent” in Spanish.
When we pronounce words in Spanish, the accent is the emphasis we give to a particular syllable of a word. We create that emphasis by giving the syllable a greater intensity, a longer duration, or a higher pitch. With that in mind, let’s review the way we categorize words in Spanish, according to their accent:
- Palabras agudas (oxytone words) | accent on the last syllable
- Palabras graves (paroxytone words) | accent on the second-to-last syllable
- Palabras esdrújulas (proparoxytone words) | accent on the third-to-last syllable
- Palabras sobresdrújulas (over-proparoxytone words) | accent on any syllable before the third-to-last syllable
Now we can focus on palabras graves, which are also known as palabras llanas. Let’s look at a couple of words:
Palabras como "lápiz" o "cereza" son palabras graves.
Words like "lápiz" [pencil] or "cereza" [cherry] are paroxytone words.Play Caption
The word lápiz has two syllables (lá | piz) and the accent goes on the second-to-last syllable “lá.” Similarly, the word cereza has three syllables (ce | re | za) and the accent also goes on the second-to-last syllable “re.”
We note that the word lápiz has a graphic accent (tilde) on the “á,” while the “e” in the second-to-last syllable of cereza doesn’t have that accent. Why not? It’s because paroxytone words need that graphic accent ONLY if they DO NOT end with “n,” “s,” or a vowel: Cereza ends in a vowel, so we don’t need the tilde.
y luego pasa en botella, donde se añade azúcar y eh... levadura.
and then goes into the bottle, where sugar is added and um... yeast.Play Caption
The word azúcar has three syllables (a | zú | car) and the accent goes on the second-to-last syllable “zú”. Since this word doesn’t end in “n,” “s” or a vowel, we need to put a tilde on the vowel of the second-to-last syllable.
La vida de músico es muy difícil, Kevin, es muy sacrificada.
The musician's life is very difficult, Kevin, it's very demanding.
Caption 16, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 3 - Part 8Play Caption
Likewise, the word difícil (di | fí | cil) has the accent on the second-to-last syllable “fí” and we need to put the graphic accent on the “í” since this word ends in a consonant (“l”), which is neither an “n,” an “s” nor a vowel.
There are, however, many palabras graves in Spanish that don’t need a graphic accent. Let’s take a look:
El lunes, por ejemplo, fui a trabajar.
On Monday for example, I went to work.
Caption 6, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos - El pasadoPlay Caption
Both lunes ( lu | nes) and ejemplo (e | jem | plo) have the accent on the second-to-last syllable. However, since lunes ends in “s” and ejemplo ends in a vowel, neither word needs the tilde.
One last thing: There are many words that are agudas in the singular and graves in the plural. Take a look at the following list (stressed syllable are in boldface):
- Organización [organization] | organizaciones [organizations]
- Nación [nation] | naciones [nations]
- Doctor [doctor] | doctores [doctors]
- Pared [wall] | paredes [walls]
That's it for now. If you feel like practicing a little bit more, take one of our videos and try to find all the paroxytone words with and without a tilde. And of course, don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions.
Let's talk about stress — not the kind you are feeling during this pandemic — the kind we use in speech, where we give more emphasis to one syllable of a word or another. In all Spanish words, there's one syllable that gets stressed, so we divide words into four groups according to which syllable gets the stress. Let's take a look:
Palabras agudas (Oxytone words) | Last syllable
Palabras graves (Paroxytone words) | Second-to-last syllable
Palabras esdrújulas (Proparoxytone words) | Third-to-last syllable
Palabras sobresdrújulas (Over-proparoxytone words) | Any syllable before the third-to-last syllable
Today, we will talk about palabras agudas. Let’s look at a couple of words:
Palabras como "corazón" o "tambor" son palabras agudas.
Words like "corazón" [heart] or "tambor" [drum] are oxytone words.Play Caption
The word corazón has three syllables (co | ra | zón) and the stress falls on the last syllable “zón.” Similarly, the word tambor has two syllables (tam | bor) and the stress falls on the last syllable “bor.”
However, the word corazón has an accent mark (tilde) on top of the “ó,” while the “o” in the last syllable of tambor doesn’t have that accent. Why? Because oxytone words need that accent ONLY when they end in “n”, in “s” or in a vowel:
La manera más simple de llegar a Barcelona es con el autobús
The simplest way to get to Barcelona is by bus
Caption 27, Blanca - Cómo moverse en BarcelonaPlay Caption
El coquí es un sapito que tenemos aquí en Puerto Rico.
The coquí is a little frog that we have here in Puerto Rico.
Caption 31, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1Play Caption
The word autobús has three syllables (au | to | bús) and the stress falls on the last syllable. Since this word ends in “s,” we need to put a tilde on the vowel of the last syllable. Likewise, the word coquí (co | quí) is stressed on the last syllable and we need to put the tilde on the “í” since this word ends in a vowel.
Important! In Spanish the accent mark ( ´ ) can only be placed on top of a vowel.
There are many oxytone words in Spanish. In fact, all verbs in the infinitive are palabras agudas:
¿Quieres tomar algo de beber, Raquel?
Do you want to have something to drink, Raquel?
Caption 22, Raquel - PresentacionesPlay Caption
Both tomar ( to | mar) and beber (be | ber) have two syllables and the stress falls on the last one. However, since they both end in “r,” the accent mark is not needed.
That's it for now. If you feel like practicing a little bit more, take one of our videos and try to find all the oxytone words without a tilde. And of course, don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to email@example.com.