I am an intermediate speaker of Spanish.

From what I remember, if there is no emphasis mark, the default is to emphasize the second-to-last syllable.

Why then, are there words that have accent marks on the second-to-last syllable?

  • 1
    I don't understand the edit here. How does strikeout work in this case? This clause was the genesis for my question. Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 15:20
  • He is modifying the question according to his personal opinion, use the flag to report it
    – Danielillo
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 15:52
  • @tac please do not vandalize other users' posts. If you think the question is too basic or a duplicate, vote to close and move on. This is a community and decisions are based on votes from several members, not on opinions from single users.
    – wimi
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 16:23
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    @JasonPSallinger we have a quick summary of accent placement rules here. Words with emphasis in the second-to-last syllable have an accent if they end with a consonant that is not "n" or "s". Examples: "cárcel", "cáliz".
    – wimi
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


If these words are diphthongs, i.e. double vowels, it's to separate them from hiatus.

Examples of diphthongs, magia, rabia and possibly mundial. Examples of hiatus sounds would be podía, había, día, prometía, sonríe, dormía, sonríe, fríe etc ..

If its diphthongs versus hiatus its because the "ia" is pronounced different to "ía" due to the double vowel sound rules.

There's a webpage on it here, https://www.berlitz.com/blog/spanish-vowels-dipthongs

  • This is one reason, but not the only reason (see comment by @wimi). This answer is incomplete & could be misleading to anybody learning about accent marks if it was not specified as incomplete. It also should be noted that OP's statement "if there is no emphasis mark, the default is to emphasize the second-to-last syllable" is incorrect as stated as well. Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:40

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