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Spanish Conjugation Glossary

» Hiatus (El hiato)

The term hiatus in linguistics refers to a short break, pause or interruption in the continuity which occurs in pronunciation between two vowel sounds adjacent syllables, with no intervening consonant.

In other words, hiatus occurs when two vowels are pronounced as two distinct syllables in contrary to a diphthong.

A given combination of vowels, which forms a diphthong may be changed into a hiatus by adding an accent over the weak vowel. An example of that are the verbs cambio and envío, where io forms a diphthong and ío forms a hiatus with the help of the accent. The accent is actually a spelling correction to match the actual pronunciation of the word in writing.

Hiatus examples

Hiatus examples in Spanish:
  • reúno (reunir)
  • actúo (actuar)
  • ahínco (ahincar) — note the h in between the vowels – what influences using the accent is the pronunciation as the h is silent in Spanish pronunciation
Hiatus examples in English:
  • reality
  • naive

Additional hiatus info

Plural form: hiatuses
Other names: diaeresis

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