How do the small accent marks over Spanish vowells change the pronunciation?
The accent normally falls on the penultimate (second to last) syllable of a word. The accent tells you to emphasize a different syllable. Without the accent, comió would be pronounced co MI o. With the accent it is co mi O.
We have two Reference Pages that will be a big help to you in understanding where the stress or emphasis is placed on spoken Spanish words. One page explains the standard or usual rules, and the other deals with exceptions to the usual or customary practices. I suggest you will find it helpful to read them in the following order:
This one explains usual rules for stress ----> Emphasis
This one explains the rules for the use of accents ----> Accents
When you have read the pages and have understood them (they are not difficult) you will have the better understanding you are looking for.
Muchos salodos/Best regards.
¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Spanishdict!
The accent marks indicate where the stress should be place. There are standard rules around which syllables to stress, depending on the last letter of the word. If a word ends in a vowel, an S or an N, the second to the last syllable is normally stressed. (bUEnas tARdes - good afternoon). Otherwise, the last syllable is stressed. (reLOJ - watch).
If the word does not follow the rule, an accent will be placed to indicate the proper syllable to stress. (comí - I ate - normal rules would dictate the accent on the second to the last syllable - COmi. In the case, the accent (or tilde) tells us to stress the last syllable - coMI.)
Hope this helps.
While the accent mark over a vowel doesn't neccessarily change the pronunciation, it does change the emphasis.
There are a few reasons why there are accent marks in Spanish.
1) Weak-vowel strong. The weak vowels in Spanish are i and u, while the others are strong vowels. For example, tío (uncle) splits up the syllables (tE-oh).
2) Multiple words. Sometimes the only difference between two words in Spanish is the accent mark. For example, si (if) and sí (yes).
3) Change of Emphasis. Normally if a word ends in a vowel, an 'n', or an 's', the emphasis will be on the second-to-last syllable. Otherwise it will be on the last syllable. Álgebra (Algebra) changes the emphasis which would have normally been on the second-to-last syllable to the first syllable. (Al-hay-brah).
I'm sure there are other reasons, but these are the main three that I can remember.