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 referred 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.
Spanish punctuation may seem difficult if you are just learning the language. However, if you keep in mind the following rules, you will definitely improve your writing and the use of punctuation in Spanish.
In Spanish, you always need to use opening and closing punctuation. Keep this in mind especially for question marks and exclamation points.
¿Qué más cosas hay en el sueño?
What other things are there in the dream?
Caption 15, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: Hay y estarPlay Caption
¡Todo el mundo paga para que lo escuchen!
Everyone pays for them to listen to you!
Caption 45, Yago 14 La peruana - Part 7Play Caption
D.A.S. [Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad].
A.D.S [Administrative Department of Security].Play Caption
After a question mark or exclamation point, you can put any punctuation mark except a period.
¡Acompáñame! Este recorrido inicia en la Calle Doctor Coss,
Join me! This tour begins at Doctor Coss Street,
Captions 5-6, Paseando con Karen Canal Santa LucíaPlay Caption
Don't put a comma or semicolon before an opening parenthesis. However, feel free to put those marks after the closing parenthesis.
If you want to put a period at the end of a sentence that is between quotations marks, you need to put the period after the closing quotation mark.
La cita de hoy es de Aldous Huxley y dice así: "Todos los hombres son dioses para su perro".
Today's quote is by Aldous Huxley and goes like this: "To his dog, every man is Napoleon" [literally "To their dog, all men are gods].
Captions 8-10, Los casos de Yabla El perrito malcriado - Part 1Play Caption
Unless you are quoting something (as in the example we mentioned for rule 6) or writing a particular document (e.g. a letter), you always need to use lower case after a colon.
Luego tendrá usted que rellenar un formulario con las siguientes cuestiones: país de recogida, ciudad de recogida,
Then you will have to fill out a form with the following questions: country of pickup, city of pickup,
Captions 14-16, Raquel Alquiler de cochePlay Caption
Sí, Zárate, ¿qué pasó?
Yes, Zarate, what happened?Play Caption
There are many more rules regarding punctuation in Spanish. However, we invite you to keep in mind the rules we just mentioned here because that way you'll certainly improve your writing in Spanish. And don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.