ACCENT MARKS

Why are there accent marks on certain Spanish words and not all Spanish words?

The list of Spanish words without an accent mark greatly outnumbers those Spanish words with an accent mark.  The reason is because those words without an accent mark follow a simple pronunciation rule adopted from Latin.

This rule is: "The accent falls on the second to last syllable of words ending in a vowel or in n or s; and on the last syllable of words ending in any other consonant. Whenever a word does not follow this rule (and sometimes even when it does, to distinguish homographs), the accented vowel bears an acute accent (´)."

For example:

e.g.: abogado,(lawyer) accented on the 3rd syllable
e.g.: tomo,(volume) accented on 1st syllable
e.g.: tomas, accented on the 1st syllable
e.g.: toman, accented on the 1st syllable
e.g.: tomar, (to take) accented on last syllable
e.g.: balcón,(balcony) accented on 2nd syllable
e.g.: cuándo, (when) accented on 1st syllable
e.g.: teléfono,(telephone) accented on 2nd syllable

Note however the difference in these words.
telégrafo (telegraph)
telegrama (telegram) - no accent mark
telemarketing or telemercadeo (telemarketing) - no accent
televisión (television)

So you can't assume that a word would have a written accent mark just because a similar word also has a written accent mark.

Remember accent marks help a non-native speaker to correctly pronounce a Spanish word.  A non-native speaker of English does not have a similar device to help them with their pronunciation.  Accent marks are your friend not your enemy.

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