How to Type and Pronounce Spanish Accents: Complete Guide

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How to Type and Pronounce Spanish Accents: Complete Guide

Navigating Spanish accents—or accents in any language that utilizes them—can be particularly challenging for individuals whose first language doesn’t include accent marks. How does one type Spanish accent marks on a standard keyboard? How does the pronunciation of a word shift with the addition of an accent mark? Do these marks affect the stress of a word? And how can one remember when they’re necessary?

If you’re not yet familiar with the primary rules of Spanish accents, these questions might seem daunting. However, it’s crucial not to get discouraged! Accents play a vital role in languages that incorporate them—not only in Spanish. It’s essential to understand that the presence or absence of an accent mark can drastically alter the meaning of a word. Mastering the use of accents is indispensable for anyone aiming to become proficient in Spanish. Here are the key facts you need to know about Spanish accents.

Spanish Accent Marks

Spanish accent marks or Spanish accents can also be referred to as diacritics, diacritical marks or diacritical signs. These represent an extra symbol or glyph added to a letter.

The Spanish language has three types of accent marks:

  • Tilde
  • Acute accents
  • Diaeresis


The tilde is only applied to the letter “n”, creating the character “ñ”, which is considered a separate letter in the Spanish alphabet and appears as such in dictionaries. Also known as la tilde de la eñe or la virgulilla, “ñ” appears in words such as niño (“child”), mañana (“tomorrow”), señor (“mister, sir”), año (“year”) and even español (“Spanish” – the language).


The diaeresis is only found on the letter “u”, marked by two dots above it (ü). It indicates that the “u” should be pronounced independently, as a separate vowel, not as part of a digraph or diphthong. Although rare, the diaeresis in Spanish is typically placed immediately after “g” or immediately before “e” or “i” in a word. In case you were wondering, yes, it is distinct from an umlaut, which denotes a sound shift.

Acute Accent

The acute accent, represented by a short diagonal line above vowels, is the most common accent mark in Spanish. Acute accents occur only once per word and their purpose is to stress words, distinguish between otherwise identical words and indicate questions.

Spanish accent marks

All Spanish Accents Letters

  • á
  • é
  • í
  • ó
  • ú
  • ñ
  • ü

Spanish uses accent marks on only six different letters. Accent marks are never applied to any other letters in the alphabet, so it’s easy to remember them. Here’s how Spanish accent letters are grouped by type of accent marks:

  • á, é, í, ó, ú use acute accents;
  • ñ uses the tilde;
  • ü uses the diaeresis.

Spanish Pronunciation Without Accent Marks

In Spanish, having accent marks makes speaking easier because they indicate the correct pronunciation of a word by telling you which syllable to stress or emphasize. But how do you pronounce Spanish words without accent marks? Here are the two main rules for how to pronounce Spanish words without accent marks:

1. If the word ends with a vowel, the letter “n” or the letter “s”, the stress is on the next to last syllable. For example:

  • com-pu-ta-DO-ra (“computer” in English)
  • her-MO-so (“beautiful” in English)

2. If the word ends with a consonant (other than “n” or “s”), the stress is on the last syllable. For example:

  • fe-LIZ (“happy” in English)
  • pro-fe-SOR (“professor” in English)

Spanish Pronunciation With Accents Marks

If your Spanish word has an acute accent, ignore the previously mentioned rules and stress the syllable that contains the accent. You’ll quickly become accustomed to pronouncing and writing these words. A helpful option for practice is to use the Mondly Chatbot, where you can both SEE and HEAR the words.

In Spanish, stress and accents are closely related as they help distinguish between words in both pronunciation and meaning. For example, ‘ella mandó una carta’ means ‘she sent a letter’, while ‘yo mando una carta’ means ‘I send a letter’. Here are some additional examples where accent marks can completely change the meaning of a word in Spanish:

Spanish words with accent marksSpanish words without accent marksExample sentence using both wordsTranslation
(you)tu (your)Tú tienes un perro muy bonito. ¿Es tu única mascota?You have a very cute dog. Is it your only pet?
  (tea)te (you)Te recomiendo que tomes mucho té.I recommend that you drink a lot of tea.
cómo (how/what)como (like, as)¿Cómo se llama tu colega? ¿Es tan inteligente como Cristian?What is your colleague's name? Is he as smart as Cristian?
él (he)el (the) A él le gusta el vino.He likes the wine.
(yes)si (if)Sí, quiero probar el chorizo pero solo si no es picante.Yes, I want to try the pork sausage but only if it is not spicy.

As you can see, Spanish differentiates between homonyms by using accent marks. Once you understand how Spanish accent marks make everything easier, you’ll love learning about them!

Spanish Accents Rules

Acute accents are necessary in Spanish to indicate the stressed syllable, especially in the following cases:

  1. When a word ends in a vowel, -n, or -s and the stress is on the last syllable. Example: camión (truck)
  2. When a word ends in a consonant (excluding -n or -s) or a vowel and the stress is on the second to last syllable. Example: fácil (easy)
  3. When the stress falls on the antepenultimate syllable (the syllable before the second to last). Example: político (politician)
  4. When the stress is on the syllable before the antepenultimate, especially with Spanish pronouns in gerunds, imperatives, or Spanish infinitives. Example: cómpramelo (buy it for me)


Words ending in -mente have two stressed syllables, complicating Spanish accent placement. What you can do is remove the ending (-mente), follow the above rules, then add the ending back on and stress both the accented Spanish letter and MEN-te.

Question Words

All Spanish question words require an acute accent, even if they don’t have one in declarative sentences. That’s basically how you differentiate between interrogative words: when they are used in a question, they have an accent; when used to answer a question or make a statement, they don’t.

For example, when you ask ¿cuánto tengo que pagar?’ (how much do I have to pay?) you use an acute accent, but when you say ‘tú no sabes cuanto te voy a extrañar’ (you don’t know how much I will miss you), you don’t.

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Typing Spanish Accents on a Keyboard

Whether you use a PC or a Mac, the best route is to change the keyboard settings to “US – International”.

Then, to type the special “á” character, you only need to press the apostrophe key and the letter “a”. Here’s a full list with all the key combinations for typing Spanish accents:

  • á = ‘ + a
  • é = ‘ + e
  • í = ‘ + i
  • ó = ‘ + o
  • ú = ‘ + u
  • ñ = ~ + n
  • ü = ” + u
  • ¡ = Alt (hold) + !
  • ¿ = Alt (hold) + ?

Typing Spanish accents

If that doesn’t work for you, you can try typing the Spanish accents you need using cryptic codes.

How to Write Spanish Accents on a Laptop

Spanish accent letterKeyboard combination
áAlt + 0225
éAlt + 0233
íAlt + 0237
óAlt + 024
úAlt + 0250
üAlt + 0252
ñAlt + 0241
¿Alt + 0191
¡Alt + 0161

How to Write Spanish Accents on a Mac

Spanish accent letterKeyboard combination
á/é/í/ó/úpress both “alt” and “e”, then release them and press the desired vowel
üpress both “alt” and “u”, then release them and press “u” again
ñpress both “alt” and “n”, then release them and press “n” again

In conclusion, mastering Spanish accents is essential for anyone striving to become proficient in Spanish. While initially daunting for those unfamiliar with accent marks, understanding their significance is crucial. Accents not only affect pronunciation and stress but also alter the meaning of words significantly. By familiarizing oneself with the primary rules governing Spanish accents, such as those indicating stress placement and distinguishing between homonyms, learners can navigate the language with confidence. Whether it’s remembering when to use accents or grasping their role in pronunciation, embracing the nuances of Spanish accents is a vital step toward fluency.

Before you go, make sure you check out these FAQs.

Why are accents important in Spanish pronunciation?

Accents are important in Spanish pronunciation because they indicate which syllable to stress or emphasize in a word, helping to differentiate between words that are spelled similarly but have different meanings.

What are the most common mistakes when using Spanish accents?

The most common mistakes when using Spanish accents include omitting accents where they're needed, placing them incorrectly, or misinterpreting their purpose, which can lead to mispronunciations or misunderstandings in written communication.

Spanish language pronunciation made easy

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It can be really tricky to master Spanish pronunciation and accents if you don’t actively live in a Spanish-speaking country. But with Mondly, you’ll have access to a unique, fast and highly efficient learning method that allows you to learn Spanish naturally with practical topics, authentic conversations and bite-sized Daily Lessons.

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Diana Lăpușneanu - Linguist at Mondly Blog

Diana is a Linguist at Mondly by Pearson. Learning English as a second language early on fueled her lifelong passion for language learning, leading her to pursue a diverse array of languages as a hobby alongside her academic endeavors. With a Master’s Degree in advertising and a fascination for historical linguistics, she brings a unique perspective to her role, making language learning fun for readers worldwide.

6 comments on “How to Type and Pronounce Spanish Accents: Complete Guide

  1. I am keenly interested in the study of Spanish language. I am a beginner. My big difficulty is when and when to place the stress accents. I can read, understand when one speaks the language. Lo comprendo pero no hablo mucho.

    1. Hi Felice! That’s a very interesting question. “Latinx” is pronounced exactly how it is written – meaning “lə-TEE-neks”, “LAT-in-eks” or “La-tinks”. Hope it helps!

  2. One thing I find confusing are words like cómo, cuándo, qué, cuál which would have stress on the same syllable even without the accent mark by the default rules. Or él, sí, té – with only one syllable there’s no choice on where the stress could be.

    I can’t really hear any difference in their pronunciation either – is there supposed to be some? Or is the accent mark there only for clarifying the meaning in written language?

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