Spanish accents, upside-down question marks, and other awkward letters… Are they really necessary? Yes, indeed!
Today we’re going to show you Spanish keyboard shortcuts and how to type Spanish accent marks, both on your computer and on your phone.
Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation allow the reader to fully visualize what is being told (and how is being told).
By using Spanish accents in your writing you will convey your message in a more convincing and clearer manner, as well as to be more professional.
Sharpen Your Spanish Orthography
No matter whether you are writing a love letter or filling in a job application, if you are serious about being fluent in Spanish you must learn to write correctly.
This means mastering the use of orthographic signs and therefore knowing how to type them on your computer or, for a matter of fact, in this modern age on any other electronic device!
Why? Because Spanish orthographic signs are graphic representations of the spoken language!
Let’s think about it for a moment; speech is an innate property of our human biology.
Sounds, rhythm, and melody come naturally to us. Thousands of years ago our ancestors created particular combinations and gave them meanings to form words.
Languages are a living thing and therefore continue to evolve. Did you know that every year new words are added to the Oxford English Dictionary?
For instance, some that made into this year’s list are ‘amber alert’, ‘amotivational’, ‘bare-bones’, ‘chewy’, ‘fakeness’, ‘microfinance’, ‘stuffie’, ‘whatev’ and even a few derived from the Star Wars Saga: ‘jedi’, ‘lightsabre’, and ‘Padawan’.
The study of languages and their development is fascinating. But, orthography is particularly interesting because orthographic systems (whether alphabetic, logographic or syllabic) have been purposely invented by humans to communicate spoken language in graphic form.
In this sense, writing in Spanish without the appropriate accents and punctuation marks would make a poor and unfinished visual representation of this beautiful Romance language.
How to Type Spanish Accents on Your Keyboard
Now that it is clear that accents marks and punctuation signs are not mere decoration but serve a real purpose let’s get into the technical side of actually typing them.
Spanish accent keyboard shortcuts may vary depending on the computer’s brand and operation system. However, below you will find a list containing the most common options.
- Copy and paste the signs from this list to your document.
Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú, Ü, á, é, í, ó, ú, ü, ¿, ¡, Ñ, ñ.
- Re-configure your system to the U.S. International Keyboard Layout (ENG INTL).
It is less complicated than it sounds. You can do this from your control panel. For Windows 10 go to the Settings menu, then click on Region and Language, then Languages Options, then Details or Keyboard Settings, and select International.
- Set your keyboard layout to Spanish.
It may not be an option for all computers but if it is for you, you will have to follow the same route as above, just select Spanish instead of the International. Just beware that you may have to learn the new key placements.
- Type Spanish accent marks on vowels with a Spanish keyboard layout.
Once your keyboard is in Spanish, it usually works by typing the key corresponding to the acute accent mark and then immediately (not at the same time) typing the vowel key. But, if it is not clearly marked on the keyboard, you may have to fiddle around to actually find it.
- Insert the special symbols from the Windows Character Map (Mapa de caracteres).
Go to Start and search for Character Map. It will open it on a new pop-up window, click on the desired character and then click again on the Select/Insert button.
- Type Spanish accent marks on vowels with a Mac:
New Macs tend to be really user friendly and very intuitive. Press and hold the vowel you want to accent until the pop-up menu appears (it will show you all the available options), then select the one you need. This also works for the letter (ñ).
- Use character codes (cryptic codes).
This option might be a bit boring but you can print the table and just hold it next to your computer’s screen or somewhere handy at your desk. Note that these codes may vary depending on the system you operate, or the operating system your machine runs. Alt codes mostly work with keyboards that include a number pad.
|Alt 0193||Á||A with accent|
|Alt 0201||É||E with accent|
|Alt 0205||Í||I with accent|
|Alt 0211||Ó||O with accent|
|Alt 0218||Ú||U with accent|
|Alt 0225||á||a with accent|
|Alt 0233||é||e with accent|
|Alt 0237||í||i with accent|
|Alt 0243||ó||o with accent|
|Alt 0250||ú||u with accent|
|Ñ & ñ|
|Alt 0161||¡||Inverted exclamation mark|
|Alt 0191||¿||Inverted question mark|
|Alt 0220||Ü||U with dieresis|
|Alt 0252||ü||u with dieresis|
How to Type Spanish Accents on Your Phone
Most smartphones work in the same way, just press or hold down the letter you want to accent and wait until the character menu pops up, choose the one you need from the available options. ¡Listo!
Alternatively, change the language settings to Spanish.
Spanish Letters and Accent Marks Summary
Below you can find a recap of the special characters that are mostly used when writing in Spanish.
- TILDE OR ACUTE ACCENT (´) – it is the main accent mark, which is placed on top of vowels to show a change of pitch.
- DIERESIS OR UMLAUT (¨) – it is only placed on top of the letter (u) in the syllables –gue and –gui to indicate that the (ü) should be intentionally pronounced, like in the word pingüino.
- VIRGULILLA (̴) – think of it like a hat placed on top of the letter (n) to form the letter (ñ), which produces the sound NYEH.
- UPSIDE-DOWN QUESTION MARK (¿) – it is used to open an interrogative sentence.
- UPSIDE-DOWN EXCLAMATION MARK (¡) – it is used to open an exclamation sentence.
For a more detailed explanation, you can check this other article. Or if you are looking to grasp basic Spanish, start with our Spanish Survival Crash Course. Each day for six days, we’ll send e-books and audio files to your inbox to help you get a basic foundation for the language, completely FREE!