Stress rules in -ia-ending words

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by ruprecht, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. ruprecht New Member

    english england
    I'm sure this has come up before but I can't find the appropriate thread.

    Unless you see it print i.e. accented, is there any way of knowing if an ia-ending word you know, and want to use in speech, obeys the penultimate accent rule?

    Thank you.
  2. the MASTER

    the MASTER Senior Member

    Here and there ...
    English - British
    I don't understand. If you know the word, you must have seen it in print or heard it from someone else. That means you would know where the accent would fall.
  3. Joel - Spanish Member

    British English
    I take it that you mean: Does ia at the end of words get pronounced with the stress on the i ?

    The answer is no, unless the i has a tilde.

    For example:

    democracia - stress on the penultimate a
    bestia - stress on the e
    aprendía - stress on the i.

    I don't know if this is what you were referring to.
  4. ruprecht New Member

    english england
    "I don't understand. If you know the word, you must have seen it in print or heard it from someone else. That means you would know where the accent would fall."

    Unfortunately, having previously heard any word or seen it in print doesn't guarantee that, perhaps months later, you will remember where the stress is when you come to use it!

    Words one uses often like día and guardia are easy because one says them so often. But what dictates, for example - and I am deliberately leaving out any accents - how the following are pronounced? Compania, farmacia, Normandia, aristocracia, economia, dependencia, fotografia.....

    On the face of it, one might expect them all to have the stress in the same place, but they don't. There is obviously no hard and fast rule.

    However, it would help if one knew what proportion of -ia ending words in Spanish have the stress on the penultimate syllable as in farmacia, or the ultimate as in compañía, so one could take an educated guess next time your memory let you down!

    Un abrazo.
  5. manicha Senior Member

    Spanish/Galician - Spain
    Ahora lo entendí!. Quieres saber si hay una regla para saber si la terminación en ia de una palabra se acentúa, o no, en la í, sin verla escrita? Pues en realidad no la hay. Pero he estado pensando un poco y me he dado cuenta de que las palabras terminadas en -cia suelen ser llanas: farmacia, urgencia, constancia, conciencia, denuncia, justicia, adolescencia, gracia, acacia, argucia, astucia, ciencia, codicia, creencia, inercia, alopecia, abundancia, indiferencia... Pero Abogacía, policía y mercancía (como ves, terminan en -cia y se acentúan).
    En cambio, la terminación ía se acentúa habitualmente cuando se refiere a nombres de ramas del conocimiento: geografía, economía, poesía... lugares donde se desarrolla una actividad... fiscalía, panadería, zapatería ...(muchos nombres de clases de comercios acaban en -ía) y algunas otras: brujería, día, etc. Además, las formas del pretérito imperfecto de la segunda y tercera conjugación -quería, vivía- se acentúan.
    Espero haberte ayudado!
  6. ruprecht New Member

    english england
    Fanastico, Manicha, es exactamente el tipo de análisis que esperaba! Muchas gracias.
  7. hr1982 New Member

    American English - New England
    Thank you for the explanation; I'm sorry I can't reply in Spanish. I've been trying to figure out why farmacia is not pronounced "farmacía," like many of the other places one shops, and I think this gets to the root of the problem.
    When I looked up the etymology for "pharmacy," I found that the entire word used to refer to the medicine itself, so the "ia" is not signifying a place to buy, for example, a "farm."
  8. elianecanspeak

    elianecanspeak Senior Member

    by Lake Michigan
    English - EEUU
    ¿Si la palabra deriva del griego afecterá la posisión del acento tónico?
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
  9. Spug Senior Member

    Hi ruprecht,

    I don't know if this will help you, but the vowel combination ia is considered a diphthong in Spanish. Unless there is a written accent over one of the vowels, the combination is pronounced as one syllable. This is the case in the word farmacia. As manicha says, there is no firm rule that lets us know which words will have written accents over one of the vowels and which will not.

    I'd like to recommend an excellent source for you for information about questions like yours. Do a search for the Real Academia Española document Ortografía de la lengua española. The document is available for free in pdf format, even though you can't print or modify it (but you can download it to your own computer). Not only is it authoritative, it is very helpful to folks like us who speak Spanish as a second language (and probably to native speakers too. ;))

    Take care...
  10. jas0491 New Member

    Where would words like ceremonia go?

    Do words ending in nia commonly not have accents?
  11. DLMcN New Member

    English - England
    In reply to jas0491, "-enia", "-inia" and "-rnia" nouns never stress that "i", but the majority of "-ania" nouns do stress it - unless they are place-names... Nouns ending in "-onia" can fall into either category, with no marked majority either way.

    Moderator's note
    Promotional links and references removed - rule 6.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2017
  12. DLMcN New Member

    English - England
    Ruprecht - My dictionary comes with a disc with which you can examine all its Spanish words using a 'reverse alphabetic' option - i.e., specifying certain endings. Using this, I tried to find guidelines for deciding when the "i" should be stressed in nouns with an "-ia" ending. And I think I had some success - it confirmed what Manicha said about "-cia" nouns (and also those terminating in "-eria"). Several other "rules" emerged (including the ones mentioned above^ regarding "-nia" nouns). Using the same disc, it was also possible to establish that the majority of nouns and adjectives ending in "-io" do not stress that "i" - except when they would have produced a monosyllabic word.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  13. DLMcN New Member

    English - England
    Ruprecht - There is insufficient space here to include all the "rules" which emerged from my investigation using the disc. If you would like to see the others, you could perhaps let me have your e-mail address? - [I am not sure whether the rules of this forum permit you to do that].
  14. Wandering JJ

    Wandering JJ Senior Member

    British English
  15. Wandering JJ

    Wandering JJ Senior Member

    British English
    David, I'd just downloaded your 7-page MSWord document on this very topic before I read post #11 and recognised the authority. An excellent guide to —ía versus —ia!

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