Author Archives: practicalspanish

When to put accents in Spanish (II)


Besides the well-known general rules to put accents in Spanish, in 2010 the Royal Academy of the Spanish language (RAE, for its initials in Spanish) released “La Ortografía de la lengua española” (The Spanish Language Ortography), to describe the ortographic Spanish language system and explain its main rules for the correct writing in Spanish.  As a review, here we mention a couple of those rules:

1. Monosyllabic words do not have tilde (accent), except when the tilde is needed to differentiate a word from another one that has different meaning (diacritic accent). For example: tú (you) – tu (your); él (he) – el (the); mí (me) – mi (my); si (if; oneself), sí (yes); té (tea) – te (personal pronoun “you“, i.e.: ‘yo te dije’ – ‘I told you‘); dé (subjunctive form of verb ‘dar‘ – to give – for the 1st and 3rd person singular) – de (of); sé (I know; ) – se (3rd person singular/plural personal pronoun, i.e.: ‘ellos se aman‘ – ‘they love each other‘; or personal pronoun to form impersonal and pasive voice sentences, i.e.: ‘se busca vivo  o muerto‘ – ‘wanted dead or alive‘).

2. Words such as the adverb ‘solo’ (only) and the demonstratives ‘esta, este, esto’ (this) do not need to have the diacritic accent anymore. In the 2010 rules of the Spanish language ortography, the RAE “adviced” that Spanish speakers did not neet to put the diacritic accent in words such as  ‘solo’ (only; alone) and ‘esta, este, esto’ (and their plural forms: estas, estos). However, it has been noticed that users continue to put accents on these words to distinguish words as it follows:

solo‘ (alone) / ‘sólo‘ (only)

‘esta, este, esto’ (demonstrative adjectives; i.e.: ‘esta casa’ – ‘this house’) / ‘ésta, éste, ésto’  (demonstrative pronouns; i.e.: ‘esta casa es nueva, pero ésta no‘ – ‘this house is new, but not this one‘).

Personally, since this advice was released, I have stopped putting accents on the #2 cases, as I believe the context clarifies the meaning of the word, avoiding possible confusion. However, as Salvador Gutiérrez, one of the members of the RAE mentioned, I have noticed that some writers continue keeping the diacritic accent in those cases. I would like to hear what other people think about it.

For further resources visit:


In 18 things that people highly creative don’t do like the rest of people (*) Carolyn Gregoire (2014) explores the nature of creative individuals. Given the difficulty to make standard definitions, she describes 18 characteristics that creative people do different.

1. Daydreaming;

2. Observing everything;

3. Elaborating your own schedule (tailor-made);

4. Keeping some moments of loneliness for yourself;

5. Taking advantage of the problems that life brings;

6. Looking for new experiences;

7. Falling down and getting up again and again;

8. Posing big questions;

9. Observing people;

10. Taking risks;

11. Considering everything in life is an opportunity for self-expression;

12. Following your real passions;

13.  Coming out of your own mind;

14. Losing the conscious of time;

15. Being surrounded by beauty;

16. Knowing how to unite the loose ends;

17. Liking radical changes; and…

18. Finding time to meditate.

Now I wonder…aren’t we all humans creative by nature?, and if so, can we then develop further our creativity? 😉

(*) For the complete article in Spanish:

Gregoire, C. (2014, March 7). 18 cosas que las personas altamente creativas no hacen igual que el resto. El Huffington Post. Retrieved from



Hispanic Literature becomes a cultural force in the U.S.

« You cannot understand the U.S. if you ignore the Spanish language. » According to this article, appeared in the Spanish newspaper “El País” this week, the origin of “latinization” in the U.S. would date back to 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, between the U.S. and Mexico, was signed, to end the Mexican-American war (1846-1848).  Per this Treaty, Mexico gave to the U.S. more than half of its national territory, in exchange of $15 million that was paid to Mexico. This gave the U.S. ownership of the current states of California, Nevada, Utah, Nuevo México and Texas, and large zones within Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Through this trade of lands, people whose first language was Spanish, became living in a country where most people spoke English. The dissemination of Spanish language in the U.S. continues nowadays through the phenomenon of immigration from Hispanics to the U.S. For this reason, it should not be surprising that there is a literary tradition in Spanish in the U.S. This article mentions several authors and novels that are paramount to understand the Hispanic literature in the U.S. It considers ‘The Squatter and the Don’ (1885), by Amparo Ruis de Burton, as the first important literary work, which appeared after Mexico’s defeat. The vast list continues until more recent names, such as: Junot Díaz, Daniel Alarcón, Rubén Martínez, and others. Read the complete referred article in Spanish here: Lago, E. (2014, January 25). Hispanic Literature becomes a cultural force in the U.S.  El País. Available online from:

Spanish for foreigners: Four links – LETRA LIBRE Magazine



This webpage will lead you to four links (enlaces) where you can find some neat resources to learn and practice Spanish, which includes:

1. Basic course

2. Practice

3. Audiobooks

4. Readings, step by step, arranged by levels

I have reviewed numbers 3 and 4 and recommended before to anybody who is interested in reading and listening diverse stories in Spanish (novels, poetry, short stories). Some of them are original in English, but have been translated into Spanish, in case you want to try a story that you already know :).

Reading is an excellent way to gain more vocabulary and become familiar with some good sentence structures. Worth to check out and try ;).

Spanish Alphabet


The Spanish alphabet has 27 letters and 5 digraphs.  This has been approved by the Royal Spanish Academy in 2010 and this rule applies to all the Spanish speaking countries.  Be careful when you find material in Spanish that is not up to dated and it shows there are 29 letters. There are also 5 diagraphs or a pair of letters that represent one single sound: ch / ll / gu / q / rr.–5-digrafos/art/6359/

Ortografía en español


Para aquellos a quienes nos interesa escribir bien en español, aquí una lista de palabras que en realidad no llevan tilde, pero muchas veces las encontramos escritas con tilde o dudamos si deben llevar tilde o no.

A tener en cuenta y a conservar la belleza del idioma:

The year of the Spanish language and the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy)


This year will be the tricentenary of the Real Academia Española – RAE (Royal Spanish Academy), since its foundation in 1713.  There will be a commemorative presentation which will include paintings, portraits, engraved pieces, valuable bibliography, furniture, graphic documentaries, newspapers and other objects, in order to get a better understanding of our history and the icons of our language, its speakers, the Academy and the citizens in every historic moment.

This presentation is targetted to public of all-ages and conditions, since the history of the language and the RAE’s is also its speakers’ history.

Read the original text in Spanish here: El año de la lengua española y de la RAE (retrieved January 22, 2013 from