Spanish words that change meaning with an accent

What is a tilde diacrítica?

In Spanish, an accent is sometimes placed on words that, according to grammatical rules, would not normally have an accent. We do this to distinguish them from words that are written the same but have a different meaning. This is known as a tilde diacrítica. Learn more about the tilde diacrítica with Lingolia’s examples, then test your knowledge in the exercises.

– ¿El bolso está encima de esta cómoda. ¿Quieres que te lo ?
- , si eres tan amable.
- ¿Y dónde está tu abrigo?
- Pues donde lo hayas puesto .

Words that are written with and without an accent

The words that take a tilde diacrítica range from adverbs, to prepositions, to possessives and beyond. The table below illustrates the words that are written the same but have different meanings that are distinguished by an accent.

Meaning with accent Word Pair Meaning without accent
still
Example:
Aún vivo con mis padresI still live with my parents.
aún – aun even
Example:
Te quiero, aun siendo pobres.I love you, even if you’re poor.
present subjunctive of the verb dar
Example:
Le hablaré cuando me las gracias.I will talk to him when he says thank you.
dé - de preposition
Example:
El abrigo es de seda.The coat is made from silk.
third person singular of estar
Example:
La cama ya está hecha.The bed is already made.
está - esta feminine demonstrative pronoun (this)
Example:
Esta cama es la tuya.This bed is yours.
personal pronoun (he)
Example:
Él es un alumno aplicado.He is a dedicated student.
él - el definite article (the)
Example:
El coche es nuevo.The car is new.
adverb (more) and mathematical symbol (plus)
Example:
Soy más alto que Rosana.I’m older than Rosana.
Ocho más dos son diez.Eight plus two is ten.
más - mas adversative conjunction pero (but)
Example:
Estudié mucho, mas no aprobé.I studied a lot but I didn’t pass.
personal pronoun (me)
Example:
Todo depende de .Everything depends on me.
mí - mi possessive (my)
Ejemplo:
Aquella es mi casa.That one is my house.
Imperative of the verb ser and present tense of saber
Example:
valiente; que lo eres.Be brave; I know that you are.
sé - se direct object pronoun
Example:
Se lo he contado hoy.I told him today.
adverb (yes) and pronoun
Examples:
, tengo hambre.Yes, I’m hungry.
Un es más que suficiente.One is more than enough.
Ella estaba orgullosa de misma.She is proud of herself.
sí - si conjunction (if) and musical note
Examples:
Si estudias más, aprobarás.If you study more you will pass.
Hoy aprendí acordes en si bemol.Today I learned chords in B flat.
noun (tea)
Example:
Me gusta el con leche.I like tea with milk.
té - te pronoun and name of the letter t
Example:
Te dije que se escribe con te.I told you that you write it with T.
personal pronoun (you)
Example:
eres una persona muy leal.You’re a very loyal person.
tú - tu possessive pronoun (your)
Example:
¿Cuál es tu habitación?Which is your room?

The Spanish question words and exclamations (qué, quién, cuándo, cómo, dónde, etc.) have an accent to distinguish them from relative pronouns.

Examples:
¿Qué haces? ≠ El libro que estoy leyendo.What are you doing? ≠ The book that I am reading.
¿Dónde vives? ≠ Hay muchos parques por la zona donde vivo.Where do you live? ≠ There are lots of parks in the area where I live.

sólo → solo

Since 2010, the Real Academia de la Lengua Española has recommended omitting the accent on the adverb solo and the demonstrative pronouns (ese, este, aquel, and their feminine and plural forms).