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Lesson 24: Diphthongs

Spanish vowels are either strong or weak. The vowels a, e and o are strong. The vowels u and i are weak. When two strong vowels appear next to each other, they form two separate syllables. When a vowel appears next to a weak vowel, they together form one single syllable. The two vowels that appear together in one syllable are called diphthongs.

Let's look at some words with strong and weak vowels to see how they are divided in syllables.

the student el es-tu-dian-te
the city la ciu-dad
the theater el te-a-tro
the paella la pa-e-lla

If we want to prevent the weak vowel from forming a single syllable, then we put an accent mark on the weak syllable, thereby breaking the diphthong.

the country el pa-ís

Putting an accent mark on the strong syllable within a diphthong does not break the diphthong.

the relationship la re-la-ción
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