Difference between Hiatus and Diphthong

In Spanish Language , when we find two vowels together; especially when making a syllabic division, we are invaded by confusion and doubt about the correct way to proceed.  Difference between Hiatus and Diphthong

First of all, it is good to know that Spanish vowels are divided into two categories: open or strong vowels (A, E, O) and closed or weak vowels (i, U). To properly divide syllables, it is important to know these types of vowels; because depending on these, we will determine if it is about hiatuses and diphthongs and this is how we will know if we divide the syllable or not.

Since you know which are the open vowels and which are the closed ones, below we will clarify the difference between hiatus and diphthong.

HIATUS  Difference between Hiatus and Diphthong

We speak of a hiatus when two contiguous vowels belong to different syllables, that is, the hiatuses do separate.

The hiatuses are formed from the union of two open vowels (A, E, O), two equal closed vowels (ii, uu) or, when an open vowel is combined with a closed one; but the closed one is checked (it has the check mark).

Depending on the geographical location, dialect variations may occur when making syllabic divisions.

Something important to take into account is that even if there is an H between the two vowels, if they meet the aforementioned requirements; they are hiatuses. Example: there nco.

Examples of hiatuses:

  • Sea eo
  • geolo gy
  •  l
  • ae r
  • Logical z oo
  • I UHO
  • Aho rrar
  • Ch ii ta


Diphthongs do not separate. They are formed when those contiguous vowels that are combined turn out to be an open or strong vowel and a closed or weak vowel, as long as the closed one is not a tonic; that is to say, that the tilde is not marked.

It does not matter the order in which they appear, the important thing is that they comply with the aforementioned requirement

Diphthongs can also form from the union of two closed vowels, but unlike what happens in the case of the hiatus; for these to form diphthong it is necessary that they be different and that neither of them have an accent. For example: c iu dadano, c ui given.

In the same way as hiatuses, when it comes to diphthongs, the presence of an H in the middle of the vowels is not an obstacle to their formation. Example: there jado.

Another thing you should know is that the Y at the end of words can form diphthongs; since when it is arranged in this way it is pronounced as ( i ). Example: m uy .

Examples of diphthongs:

  • ai saje
  • Mag ia
  • au sa
  • Ps eu do
  • There lar
  • ei na
  • ou rdes
  • Individ uo

Key differences between hiatus and diphthong

  • Diphthongs are only formed when an open or strong vowel (a, e, o) and a closed or weak vowel (i, u) are combined, or when two closed vowels are combined; but without any having an accent and on the condition that they are different (that they are not the same vowel repeated twice). On the other hand, hiatuses are formed when two open vowels are combined, two equal closed vowels and when an open vowel and a closed vowel are combined, but the latter must have the accent mark.
  • When we divide syllables, the diphthongs do not separate but the hiatuses do.

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