Proper pronunciation is key to communicating in any language. Without proper pronunciation, it can become very difficult to make yourself understood. Review the guidelines below to better understand Spanish word syllabification and stress.
1. A syllable consists of at least one vowel sound and/or a vowel paired with one or two consonant sounds. (In the examples below the words are both Spanish and English)
animal: 3 syllables: a-ni-mal Argentina: 4 syllables: Ar-gen-ti-na
2a. Words that end in a consonant other than n or s are stressed on the last syllable.
2b. Words that end in a vowel, n, or s are stressed on the second to last syllable.
2c. Words whose accent falls on the third to last syllable always have an accent (tilde).
2d. Rarely, words are accented on the fourth, fifth, etc. to last syllable. These are limited to verbs with pronouns attached to them.
3. Spanish features both weak and strong vowels. A, E, O are strong while I, U are weak.
This affects pronunciation as two strong vowels cannot be in the same syllable. Therefore, two strong vowels found next to each other belong to separate syllables whereas a combination of a weak and strong vowel, or two weak vowels create a diphthong or a gliding sound which results in a single syllable. In order to break this diphthong, an accent may be placed on one of the vowels.