Spanish Lesson 4: Typing in Accents


¡Bienvenidos a la clase!

Today we’re talking about accents: Not unique vocal inflections but special characters added to letters.

Accents are important!

I’ve often had students complain about how difficult it is to insert special characters when typing up their Spanish assignments. Many have tried to submit work bereft of the necessary accents, tildes or upside down question marks, with the excuse that, “Señora knows what I want to say.”


Sorry my dears, it does not work that way. Leaving out an accent can change the meaning of word. And those meanings can be significant!

We looked at the word Tú in earlier lessons:

Tú: You

Tu: Your

That accent means something very important here. Without it, you have a possessive pronoun instead of a personal pronoun.


Here are a few more examples

papá dad/ daddy
papa potato
cómo how
comó he ate
como like/as
está he/ she/ it is/ you are (formal)
esta this


So now we’ve established that the accents are important, but how do you type them?

Note: I’m including instructions only for the most common characters you will need in Spanish.


On a Mac

Acute accents: The accents “going up the mountain”- left to right ( ´ )

Acute: OPTION + “e” , the ´ will appear, then type the letter you want to appear beneath


Hold down the required letter key, continue holding the letter until a menu with special characters appears, click on the one you want (this method works for all vowels and ñ). You can use this method to get the ü as well.

ñ  OPTION + “n”, the ˜ will appear, then type the letter “n”

¿  OPTION + SHIFT + “?” 

¡  OPTION + “1”


On a PC

Acute accents: CTRL + ‘ (apostrophe), the letter

ü  CTRL + SHIFT + : (colon), release those 3 keys then press “u”

ñ  CTRL + SHIFT + ~ (tilde), the letter “n”

¿  ALT + CTRL + SHIFT + ?

¡  ALT + CTRL + SHIFT + !


To sum it all up:

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 4.41.51 PM.png


Next time you hand in a Spanish assignment, make sure you include all your accents!


Next lesson: The Alphabet in Spanish


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  1. Dani Kay July 6, 2018 at 1:26 am

    This is SO helpful!! Earlier this spring I was starting to try to re-learn Spanish (Before the Costa Rica trip) and typing was always so difficult having to google how to include the accents!

    1. K D July 6, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Oohh! I know. When I started typing Spanish assignments as a student I used to go crazy. Lol. It’s definitely easier now than when I was a student. And I find it even easier on a Mac than PC. Glad you found it useful! 🙂

  2. carolinehelbig July 9, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    Not being able to easily place accents and other symbols for Spanish, French and German used to bug me. Now I know that all I need to do is hold down the appropriate letter key and the accent options show up (on my Mac). Thank you for stressing that accents are important.

    1. K D July 10, 2018 at 11:14 am

      You’re welcome! I am so happy I have a Mac. I still find putting accents in very cumbersome on a PC. Lol


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