Why do we need accents?
Sometimes we use accents to make it clear which word we’re reading or saying.
- ¿Cómo? (how) vs. como (I eat)
- papa (potato) vs. papá (dad)
Accents help us know how to say the word by showing which syllable gets stressed.
- esta, es-ta (this), vs. está, está (is feeling or is located)
- papa, pa-pa (potato) vs. papá, pa-pá (dad)
Here’s a long word: bo-li-gra-fo
Which of those syllables gets the accent? Well, normally, the natural stress falls on the second to last syllable. So, our word would then sound like bo-li-gra-fo.
But that doesn’t sound right. The word is actually bo-li-gra-fo, and to get that stress on the third to last syllable, we write in the accent: bolígrafo.
There plenty of other rules, but for the most part the accent is there because the natural stress is not falling on the second to last syllable. If you’re just starting, don’t try to hear your way through it. Start by memorizing.
Here are three of my favorite things that 7 Brain Hacks to Learn and Memorize things Faster suggests:
- Write down what needs to be memorized over and over. …
- Study or practice in the afternoon. …
- Stay away from multitasking.