17.2 Identical Words and Words Differentiated Only by Accent Mark

1. Although context should always make the meaning clear, various irregular affirmative tú commands duplicate other verb forms and, in one case, a noun: di, sé, ve, ven and sal. See section 14.3 for examples in context.

2. The first person singular of the preterite of traer, traje, is identical to the noun for “suit”:

Llevó traje a la boda. He wore a suit to the wedding.

Similarly, the first and third person singular of the imperfect tense of ser, era, is identical to the noun la era (“era”), though this should never cause comprehension difficulties.

3. Other verb forms: The first person singular of the preterite of regular –ar verbs and the first and third persons of the present subjunctive are differentiated in writing only by the written accent on the former:

Llegué tarde. I arrived late.
Lo haré cuando llegue. I’ll do it when I/you arrive (he, she arrives).

Likewise, the written accent is all that distinguishes the third person singular of the future tense and the first and third persons singular of the imperfect subjunctive of –ar verbs:

Lo mandará. She’ll send it.
Urgía que lo mandara. It was urgent that I (he,she,you) send it.

4. Some other words distinguished only by the written accent mark (in addition to those in section 1.3) include:

de of, from
first and third persons of present subjunctive of dar 
hacia toward
hacía first and third persons of imperfect indicative of hacer
el papa pope*
el papá dad
sabia wise (fem.)
sabía first and third persons of the imperfect indicative of saber 
se third person singular and plural reflexive pronoun
first person singular present tense of saber 
affirmative tú command of ser and saber 
si if
yes
third person prepositional reflexive object pronoun (“himself,” “herself,” “yourself,” “itself,” “themselves,” “yourselves”)

*El papa must also be distinguished from la papa (“potato”).

Last revised on June 28, 2021.