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Diphthongs in Spanish

Diphthongs in Spanish are formed by combining one of the strong vowels, a, e, o with one of the weak vowels (i and u):

ai, ei, oi au, eu, ou
ia, ie, io ua, ue, uo

A combination of the 2 weak vowels also forms a diphthong in Spanish:

iu, ui

Oi is written oy and ui is written uy at the end of a word. Examples:

Hoy (today), Muy (very)

When the diphthong is accented, the stress falls on the strong vowel, if there is one.

If the diphthong consists of 2 weak vowels, the second one receives the stress. For instance:

aire (air), pausa (pause)
veinte (twenty), feudo (fief)
oigo (I hear), bou (casting of nets)

In speaking or writing Spanish, you must take care never to divide a diphthong.

The vowels of the diphthong should be so pronounced that they fuse into one utterance.

In the mixed diphthongs, the stress falls on the strong vowel:

causa, pausa, seis, siete, bien, cuatro, nuevo, bueno.

Combination of Vowels not Forming Diphthongs in Spanish

Two strong vowels do not form a diphthong, but remain 2 distinct syllables:

Maestro

The "ae" vowels, do not form a diphthong, as they are strong vowels together.

Similarly, a strong vowel and an accented weak vowel standing together form separate syllables:

baúl (trunk), país (country)

If the first of 2 weak vowels coming together is accented, two syllables are formed:

Fluido (Flu-i-do) (fluid)

Spanish Triphthongs!?

Yes, the Spanish language has them too!

A triphthong consists of a stressed strong vowel standing between two weak vowels and forms a single syllable:

menospreciais (iai) (you undervalue)
menosprecieis (iei) (you may undervalue)
continuais (uai) (you continue)
continueis (uie) (you may continue).


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