Today I went past a T-Mobile store (Cell phone company for those that don't know) and saw a sign out in front of the store that said:

Se hábla español

With an accent over the first á.

My feeling is that this is a mistake, and both google and the spell checker in my browser seem to agree with me. Is this a spelling mistake by a national company? Or in spanish is putting an accent on a letter that would already have emphasis something that I shouldn't worry about?

2 Answers 2


It is absolutely a spelling mistake.

It doesn't change pronunciation, though, so it won't impede understanding. There are only a handful of words where throwing an accent on the natural stress changes their meaning, and even more rarely would those be confused given context (basically, only the interrogative words with their relative counterparts).

  • It's hard to believe that a company the size of T-Mobile would get something so simple wrong
    – Peter M
    Dec 27, 2014 at 18:41
  • @PeterM you'd be surprised how often heritage speakers who, while perfectly capable of speaking the language, because they were never formally schooled in the language, will get asked by their company to write things rather than spend a few bucks on a professional translator. But, you even see it in English because they don't want to spend the money on a copy editor :) Dec 27, 2014 at 20:29

Yes, it is wrong.

As you might know, if the word is accented on the penultimate syllable and ends with n, s or vowel, no diacritic. Then, habla is right, hábla is wrong. This is the case for most of the words of Spanish.

Words that do not end with n-s-vowel are usually stressed on the last syllable, nor diacritic. Then hablar is right, hablár is wrong.

The diacritic is used to signify that the word escapes usual, the two cases mentioned above.

  • 2
    It looks like you are calling the accent mark a tilde. I understand ~ to be a tilde. And would call the mark you are using an acute accent. And in general anything over the top of a letter is called a diacritic
    – Peter M
    Dec 27, 2014 at 18:50
  • Sorry, is my bad English (and Google Translator that not understand me). When I said "tilde" I meant the slash that is placed over the letter. I will correct.
    – Rodrigo
    Dec 27, 2014 at 18:56
  • No hay problema. Inglés (australiano) yo sé, pero inglés americano no me gusta! Y mientras google no es perfecto lo uso todo al tiempo.
    – Peter M
    Dec 27, 2014 at 19:48
  • 2
    @PeterM in Spanish, both are called tilde in Spanish (and even has a verb! tildar). Acento (abd acentuar) is used for what we call stress in English. Leads to no end of confusion in Spanish classes. Dec 27, 2014 at 20:31
  • @guifa That is interesting .. and I can see very confusing!
    – Peter M
    Dec 27, 2014 at 21:35

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