Monday, 19 November 2012

Tell Me, Do You Write 'tu' With An Accent?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. Maybe you are both studying Spanish together. The other person is not sure about the spelling of a Spanish word. He/ she knows that your knowledge of the subject is good and says to you something like: "tell me, do you write 'tu' with an accent?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿la palabra “tu” lleva tilde?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿la palabra “tu” lleva tilde?


OUR TIP
The question could be considered an invitation for you to state the spelling of a word in Spanish. When you talk about how you would spell a word, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Your main concern should be about saying how you would spell the word in question. Perhaps you want to say that you:
  • Spell the word in question with an accent sometimes (and give a couple of examples)
  • Spell it without an accent on other occasions (and give a couple of examples);
  • Don't know whether it needs an accent or not;

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • ” lleva tilde cuando se trata del pronombre personal* (“” is written with an accent when it is a personal pronoun. Por ejemplo (for example):
    • hablas español (you speak Spanish);
    • eres periodista, ¿no? (you are a journalist, are you not?);

  • Tu” no llevará tilde cuando se trate de un adjetivo* (“tu” should be written without an accent when it is an adjective). Por ejemplo (for example):
    • Tu hermano (your brother);
    • Tu hermana (your sister);

  • No sé si “tu” lleva tilde o no* (I don't know whether “tu” is written with or without an accent).
Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿la palabra “tu” lleva tilde?

*Please see grammar below

Grammar-Diacritical Accent
A mark used to identify each one of the separate meanings of one single word is often referred to as a diacritical accent. Diacritical accents are used in Spanish to discriminate between meanings of some words which would otherwise be spelled exactly the same. In Spanish, the diacritical accent takes the form of an acute accent and is placed above a vowel. The following Spanish words have different meanings depending on whether written with or without an accent:

    1. Aun/ Aún
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “aun” corresponds to English linker expressions such as even so, even when or similar. Some examples of the use of “aun” are:
    • Aun así perdimos el vuelo (even so we missed the flight).
    • Aun cuando no teníamos nada éramos felices (even when we had nothing we were happy);

  • With the accent, “aún” corresponds to English expressions such as still/ still not/ not yet. A couple of examples of the use of “aún” are:
    • Pedro aún está enfermo (Pedro is still ill);
    • A las diez aún no habiamos llegado (at ten o'clock we still had not arrived);


    2. De/ Dé
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “de” is not a form of the verb “dar”- to give. Some examples of the use of “de” are:
    • La casa de mis padres (my parents' house);
    • El café es de Colombia (the coffee is from Columbia);
    • El vino es de buena calidad (the wine is of a good quality);
    • La letra “de (the letter/ character “d”);

  • With the accent, “is a form of the verb “dar” (to give). Some examples of the use of “” are:
    • gracias a Dios (give thanks to God);
    • Haz lo que te la gana (do whatever you want);
    • recuerdos a su hermano de mi parte (give my regards to your brother);

3. El/ Él
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “el” is the masculine/ singular form of the definite article the. Some examples of the use of “el” are:
    • El perro (the dog);
    • El teléfono (the phone);
    • El vino (the wine);

  • With the accent, “él” could be the subject personal pronoun he or the object personal pronoun him. Some examples of the use of “él” are:
    • Él escribió esa carta (he wrote that letter);
    • El perro le mordió a él (the dog bit him);

4. Mas/ Más
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “mas” means but. Some examples of the use of “mas” are:
    • Queríamos salir mas empezó a llover (we were going to go out but it started raining);
    • La casa es bonita mas pequeña (the house is nice but small);

  • With the accent, “más may mean more/ plus/ the most/ etc.. Some examples of the use of “más” are:
    • Más o menos (more or less);
    • Necesito más dinero (I need more money);
    • Pedro es más alto que Antonio (Pedro is taller than Antonio);
    • Eso cuesta más de diez dólares (that costs more than US$10);
    • Dos más dos son cuatro (two plus two are four);
    • Pedro es el más alto de la clase (Pedro is the tallest in the class);

5. Mi/ Mí
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “mi” could be:
    • The possessive, my;
    • The musical note, E (mi);
    • A Greek alphabet character, M/µ;

  • Some examples of the use of “mi” are:
    • Mi perro (my dog);
    • Mi teléfono móvil (my mobile phone);
    • Mi casa (my house);
    • Mi bemol (E flat);
    • En mi mayor (in E major);
    • La letra griega mi (the Greek letter mu/ µ);

  • With the accent, “” is the pronoun me. Some examples of the use of “” are:
    • A me gusta el pescado (I like fish);
    • Pedro me escribió esa carta a (Pedro wrote that letter to me);
    • El mensaje es para (the message is for me);

6. Se/ Sé
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “se” is a personal pronoun. Some examples of the use of “se” are:
    • Ese señor se llama Antonio (that gentleman's name is Antonio);
    • La carta se la di a Pedro (I gave the letter to Pedro);
    • Aquí se habla español (Spanish is spoken here);

  • With the accent, “” could be:
    • A form of the present tense of the verb “saber” (to know).
    • A form of the imperative* of the verb “ser” (to be).

  • Some examples of the use of “” are:
    • que me has llamado (I know you have called me);
    • No que hacer (I don't know what to do);
    • bueno (be good – said to a male);
    • buena (be good – said to a female);

*NB Please note that this form is only to be used in imperative affirmative sentences.

    7. Si/ Sí
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “si” could be:
    • The conjunction if.
    • The musical note B (ti).

  • Some examples of the use of “si” are:
    • Si lo prefieres, no vamos (if you prefer it, we won't go);
    • Si bemol (B flat);
    • En si mayor (in B major);

  • With the accent, “” could be:
    • The affirmative expression yes
    • A form of a reflexive pronoun when preceded by a preposition .

  • Some examples of the use of “” are:
    • Dime que (say yes to me);
    • Eso se dijo Pedro para (Pedro said that to himself);
    • Antonio no haría eso consigo* mismo (Antonio would not do that to/ with himself);

*NB Please note the special form “consigo” often followd by “mismo” when preceded by the preposition “con

    8. Solo/ Sólo
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “solo” is adjective alone. Some examples of the use of “solo” are:
    • Pedro estaba solo (Pedro was alone);
    • Ana estaba sola (Ana was alone);

  • With the accent, “sólo” is the adverb only. A couple of examples of the use of “sólo” are:
    • Pedro sólo sabe el camino (Pedro only knows the way);
    • Sólo vamos a tomar algo (we are only going for a drink);


    9. Te/ Té
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “te is personal pronoun you. Some examples of the use of “te” are:
    • Pedro te va a llamar (Pedro is going to call you);
    • ¿Te llamas Antonio? (is your name Antonio?);
    • Te gusta el café (do you like coffee?);

  • With the accent, “” is only the Spanish word for tea. A couple of examples of the use of “” are:
    • ¿Te gusta el (do you like tea?);
    • En Inglaterra se bebe mucho (in England people drink a lot of tea);


    10. Tu/ Tú
The meanings indicated by the accent or the lack of accent are:
  • Without the accent, “tu” is the form of the possessive adjective your which is used when preceding a noun. Some examples of the use of “tu” are:
    • Tu perro (your dog);
    • Tu teléfono móvil (your mobile phone);
    • Tu casa (your home);

  • With the accent, “” is the subject personal pronoun you. A couple of examples of the use of “” are:
    • ¿Escribiste esa carta? (did you write that letter?);
    • sabrás que hacer (you will know what to do);

Now you should practise the use of the diacritic accent with some examples of your own.


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