How come there's symbols like (') or(~) on top of certain words?

How come there's symbols like (') or(~) on top of certain words?


If there's symbols on the top does it mean that you have to pronounce something differently? Plus, how come some phrases like What time is it? and when you reply back you say, ¿Son lasmenos diez? Why is there a menos?diez? If it's 8:50 shouldn't it be like, " ¿Es la ocho y cin cuenta?


updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by ziris10

4 Answers


Sometime it changes pronunciation, sometimes it changes the meaning of a word. Por ejemplo.


el=the Or it can change the stress of a word. In the word teléfono (pron. te-LE-fo-no), if the accent wasn't there it would be pronounced te-le-FO-no, because the accent tells you to put the stress on the second syllable because most Spanish words are stressed on the second to last syllable. the ~ makes an n turn into an ñ (a WHOLE diffrent letter)

N is prononced exactly the same way as english.

ñ is pronounced like ny as in canyon or onion.

on and all the symbols are called accents (los accentos) or tildes.

updated MAY 21, 2010
posted by Austin67427
*pronounced - Austin67427, MAY 20, 2010

The "symbols" are accents/tildes and usually indicate stress. As for your second question, both work but I've heard the second way used more. "Son las nueve menos diez" means it's 10 to 9 which is 8:50. The other version is just "It's 8:50" By the way, it's "¿Son las ocho y cincuenta?"

updated MAY 20, 2010
posted by indysidnarayan

The markings over certain letters are accents or stress marks that show speakers of the language where to emphasise/accentuate the sounds so as to be able to pronounce the words (consistently) accurately. The 'tilde; is a very common accent found in Spanish..as shown in the example below;

¿Cómo está Ud ? the highlighted letters have the tildes resting on them

(so the pronounciation is kO - mo - es tAr - oo sted)

I would add that it is both easer and better Spanish to use the following (based on 12 hour clock)

y (diez) minutos - for minutes up to the half hour eg Son las once y veinte de la mañana (11:20)

o son las tres y media de la tarde (3:30pm)

  • or son las cuatro menos veinticinco de la tarde (3: 35pm) for any time past the half hour mark

eg: Son las nueve menos diez de la tarde (8:50pm)

Native speakers from Spain and many from South America have also taught me this way.

I hope that this helps grin

updated MAY 21, 2010
edited by FELIZ77
posted by FELIZ77

well yes and no. **If it's 8:50 shouldn't it be like, " (copy and pasted)btw it's "¿Son las ocho y cincuenta? and yes if it's a question.

updated MAY 20, 2010
edited by Brezy09
posted by Brezy09
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