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 dé?
- Sí, si eres tan amable.
- ¿Y dónde está tu abrigo?
- Pues donde lo hayas puesto tú.
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|
||aún – aun||even
|present subjunctive of the verb dar
||dé - de||preposition
|third person singular of estar
||está - esta||feminine demonstrative pronoun (this)
|personal pronoun (he)
||él - el||definite article (the)
|adverb (more) and mathematical symbol (plus)
||más - mas||adversative conjunction pero (but)
|personal pronoun (me)
||mí - mi||possessive (my)
|Imperative of the verb ser and present tense of saber
||sé - se||direct object pronoun
|adverb (yes) and pronoun
||sí - si||conjunction (if) and musical note
||té - te||pronoun and name of the letter t
|personal pronoun (you)
||tú - tu||possessive pronoun (your)
- ¿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).