Dieresis: ü

Diéresis

In Spanish, when the letter G precedes a U plus a hard vowel, both vowels are pronounced, and the U is pronounced [w] (like an English W):

guapo   handsome
guasón   joker

In order to obtain this [w] sound in front of a soft vowel, the Ü comes into play. The two dots over the U are called a dieresis and indicate that two adjacent vowels both need to be pronounced as a diphthong:

vergüenza   shame
lingüística   linguistics

 In Spanish, the dieresis is only found on the letter U, and only in front of E or I. When a U is followed by a hard vowel, as in guapo, the W sound / diphthong is automatic.

In comparison, U without dieresis + a soft vowel (E or I) just makes the G hard – see lesson on hard/soft vowels. It’s the dieresis that indicates that the U has its own sound in words like vergüenza., pronounced [ver gwen za]. Without the dieresis, "verguenza" would be pronounced [ver gen za].

Accent on grammar

1) Some conjugations of verbs that end in –guar require the dieresis.

Por ejemplo…

aguar   agüé
averiguar   averigüé

2) The verb argüir loses its dieresis in many conjugations.

Por ejemplo…

  • arguyo
  • arguyes
  • arguyendo

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 Germanic and Nordic languages have a similar-looking accent called an "umlaut."
 

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Spanish dieresis ü