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Diptongos e hiato
When a Spanish word has two vowels side by side, various pronunciation issues come into play: syllable division, diphthongs, and hiatus.
In terms of syllable division, Spanish vowels are divided into two categories:
To pronounce Spanish correctly, you need to understand strong and weak vowels and how they affect pronunciation.
1) Two strong vowels
Pronounced as a hiatus* with normal rules of word stress:
2) Strong vowel + weak vowel
Pronounced as a diphthong* with emphasis on the strong vowel. This is the most common combination.
3) Two weak vowels
Pronounced as a diphthong with emphasis on the second vowel
When the pronunciation of a word does not follow these rules, an acute accent is placed on the stressed vowel.
Hiatus: Two vowels pronounced as two distinct syllables.
Diphthong: Two vowels pronounced as a single syllable. When this happens, the unstressed weak vowel has a special sound: the letter I sounds like Y (as in yet) and U sounds like W (as in will).
Please note that this lesson is only a guideline for the Spanish that I know, which is Castilian Spanish. There are many regional variations in Spanish pronunciation.
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