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How type Spanish accents on a computer

The accent (tilde) in Spanish is a short diagonal line that goes from lower left to upper right on top of vowels: á, é, í, ó, ú. Unlike the ñ (see this blog post) letters that have an accent are not letters in their own right – they are transitional, in as much as the accent is an addition.

The purpose is to give more emphasis to that letter which in many cases changes the meaning of the word:

Hablo con María – I speak to María

Habló con María – he/she spoke to María

Writing the accent marks is easy but how do you add them onto a Spanish letter using an English keyboard?

There are two ways to do it:

1. Change the configuration of the language of your keyboard

The language settings of your keyboard can be done from your Control Panel and system preferences. Check out walk-though videos for your specific operating system (Mac, Windows etc.) on how to do this online if you’re unsure.

As I spend A LOT of time typing in Spanish I have Spanish as an additional language on my keyboard. By adding Spanish as an additional language in the settings I can easily flick through from my English keyboard to the Spanish one quickly. I simply holding down the “alt” key and pressing “shift”.

If, however you don’t spend much time typing in Spanish you may want to save yourself the headache of deep diving into your computer settings (unless you like that sorts of thing) and learn the shortcuts instead.

2. Keyboard shortcuts

To make an “é” (lower case) hold down the “alt” key and press 0233.

  • alt + 0233

To make an “É” (upper case) hold down the “alt” key and press 0201

  • alt + 0201

(Remember use the 10-digit keypad at the right end of your keyboard to enter the numbers, this doesn’t work with the numbers at the top of your keyboard)

SmartPhone

Simply press and hold down the key of the letter you want to accent, eg “e”.

So there you have it, adding the accent on Spanish letters is easy when you know how! Check out this short lesson on YouTube.

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