Tu vs Tú: Spanish Words that change meaning with accent marks
One of the most common issues I see with my new students is accent marks. Whether the accent marks intimidate them, whether they overlook accent marks or whether they struggle with where to place them in a word, some of my new English speakers, well, just hate accent marks.
But in fact, words that change meaning with accent marks are super easy to learn. Even better, this is a crucial topic for beginners since of the words these words are very common. Luckily, they tend to be related, and you can think of the accent mark as a way to modify the word. Simple enough, right?
That’s why Stephanie and I created a new video devoted to this topic. In this video, you’ll learn key differences like tu vs. tú and solo vs. solo, and hopefully you’ll learn some new words as well!
We stick to very common words, like el vs. él for instance. Without the accent, el means the (which I’m sure nearly all of you know by now), and with the accent, it means he. And tu vs. tú works more or less the same way: Tu means your, while tú means you.
When you’re reading, you don’t need to focus on these examples too much since the context usually fills you in. Plus, él and tú can be pretty rare in writing since they are used to emphasize the subject.
However, when you’re writing, it’s crucial to know these differences from the very beginning. Even if some natives do tend to drop the accent marks, if you’re planning on using Spanish in a formal environment, they are all the more important.
As the case with él and tú, these accent marks can also serve as a way to distinguish two words that are spelt or sound the same, such as habló, which is he spoke, and hablo, which is I speak. Much like I had to learn all the nuances behind English spelling changes like their, there and they’re, my Spanish students go through a similar process with Spanish words that change meaning with accent marks
I always wondered why accent marks were so intimidating to some early students, but soon enough, that lightbulb goes off in their head and they realize that they’re actually more helpful than difficult!
Alas, when it comes to accent marks for word stress, that’s a topic best left for another lesson. So check back soon!