Does ‘como’ have an accent?

As a learner of Spanish, you’ve probably been taught that ‘como’ means ‘how’BUT it can also mean ‘as’, ‘like’, ‘however’ and a bunch of other words (gulp!).

And, well, whether ‘como’ is written with an accent or not depends entirely on its meaning / grammatical function!

In short – if ‘cómo’ is being used to ask a question or as an exclamation, you’re gonna need to pop an accent on that ‘o’. In all other situations, however, it’s accent-free!

Let’s dig a little deeper!

When to use ‘cómo’ in Spanish

‘Cómo’ with an accent is easier to recognize (even for Spanish-speakers!), so it’s a good starting point for anyone learning the language!

There are two ways in which you can use ‘cómo’: as an interrogative OR exclamatory adverb.

Cómo’ as an interrogative adverb

When used as an interrogative adverb (i.e., as a “question word”), ‘cómo’ can be used to mean ‘how’ AND ‘what’ / ‘excuse me’.

It’s used in BOTH direct or indirect questions (which means the sentence may or may not be written with question marks).

¿Cómo está tu mamá después de la cirugía?

How’s your mom after her operation?

¿Cómo es que no llegaste a la boda de tu hermana?

How come you didn’t make it to your sister’s wedding?

Adivina cómo me fue en la entrevista.

Guess how the interview went.

Now you’re probably wondering when exactly ‘cómo’ translates to ‘what’

Well, it’s VERY often used when asking someone to repeat or clarify something they’ve just said, much in the same way that we’d use ‘what?’ or ‘excuse me?’ in English.

Many Spanish speakers actually prefer to say ‘¿cómo?’ rather than ‘¿qué?’* as the latter is sometimes considered disrespectful –

Sofía – Y entonces, escaneas un código y abres el sitio web.

Gabo – ¿Cómo? No te escuché por sobre los ladridos del perro.

Sofía – And then, you scan a code and open the website.

Gabo – What? I couldn’t hear you over the dog barking.

*Erika’s note – another extremely common way of saying ‘excuse me’ in Mexico is ‘mande’, so you’ll often hear it used instead of ‘¿cómo?’ and ‘¿qué?’.

Cómo’ is also used as a synonym of ‘qué’ or ‘what’ when asking someone their name –

Rubén – ¿Cómo te llamas?

José Ángel – Me llamo José Ángel, pero todos me dicen Pepe.

Rubén – What’s your name?

José Ángel – My name is José Ángel, but everyone calls me Pepe.

As an exclamatory adverb / interjection

As an “exclamatory adverb”, ‘cómo’ is used to express surprise, delight, disgust or even outrage –

¡Cómo me encantan estos zapatos!

I love these shoes!

¡No manches, cómo odio las clases de química!

Darn, I hate chemistry class!

¡Cómo quisiera que ya fuera verano!

How I wish it were summer already!

Mariano – Al parecer, Karla chocó con un camión.

Ana – ¡Cómo! ¿Sabes si se encuentra bien?

Mariano – Apparently Karla hit a truck.

Ana – What! Do you know if she’s okay?

When to use ‘como’ in Spanish

‘Como’ with NO accent can be an adverb, a conjunction, or a preposition.

As an adverb

When ‘como’ is used as an adverb (questions and exclamations aside), it expresses a way / manner of doing something OR an estimate.

Sounds complicated, right? But don’t get in a twit just yet!

Como’ as an adverb generally translates to ‘as’, ‘like’, ‘about’, ‘around’ or ‘however’.

A way / manner of doing something (‘like’ / ‘as’ / ‘however’)

Arreglé la instalación eléctrica tal como me dijiste.

I fixed the electrical installation just as you told me.

Me encantaría cantar como tú.

I’d love to sing like you.

Rodrigo – ¿Cómo quieres tu café?

Jorge – Como tú te lo prepares está bien.

Rodrigo – How do you want your coffee?

Jorge – However you normally prepare it is fine.

An estimate (‘about’ / ‘around’)

Vivo muy cerca de aquí; como a tres cuadras.

I live nearby; about three blocks away from here.

Llego como en cinco minutos.

I’ll be there in about five minutes.

As a conjunction

‘Como’ is used as a conjunction when comparing people / things (normally translating to ‘as’), when explaining the cause or reason for something (normally translating to ‘since’), and in the expression ‘tanto … como’ (which translates as ‘both … and’).

Comparing two people / things (‘as’)

Camila es tan disciplinada como su mamá.

Camila is as disciplined as her mom.

El nuevo álbum de Imagine Dragons no me gusta tanto como el anterior.

I don’t like the new Imagine Dragons album as much as the previous one.

Explaining the cause / reason for something (‘since’)

Como me dolía la cabeza, decidí no ir a la fiesta.

Since I had a headache, I decided not to go to the party.

Tanto … como (‘both … and’)

Me súper encantan tanto los pasteles como las galletas.

I absolutely love both cakes and cookies.

As a preposition

Finally, when explaining the function or role of something, ‘como’ works as a preposition.

Ariadna – ¿Te gusta Antonio?

Terry – ¡Para nada! Él es como un hermano para mí.

Ariadna – Do you like Antonio?

Terry – Not at all! He’s like a brother to me.

Jimena usa mis sudaderas como si fueran pijamas.

Jimena wears my sweatshirts as if they were pajamas.

Como tu hermana, te digo que ese chico no te conviene.

As your sister, I’m telling you that boy is no good for you.

Final thoughts

And there you have it; all you need to know to confidently whack that little accent on ‘cómo’ or skip it altogether!

Remember: knowing exactly what you want to express (i.e., the function of ‘como’ within a sentence) is the key to writing it correctly.

Ready to test your newfound knowledge? I’ve left a little quiz at the bottom of the page for you to try!

Oh, and if you wanna learn more about Spanish grammar, make sure to check out our article on the differences between ‘gusta’ vs ‘gustan’.

¡Hasta pronto!

Cómo’ vs. ‘Como’ Quiz

Choose between ‘cómo’ or ‘como’

1. ¿________ te gustaría que decoremos la casa?

2. ¡Qué frío! Es ________ si viviéramos en el Polo Norte.

3. Pedro es  ________ su papá cuando tenía su edad.

4. ¡________! ¿En verdad estás embarazada?

5. Me van a dar un ascenso según ________ me vaya en la evaluación.

6. ¿_________? ¿Me podrías repetir?

7. La leche de coco no me gustar tanto __________ la leche de almendras.

8. ¿_________ se llama tu papá?

9. Mi hijo se comporta _________ si fuera un adulto.

10. ¡_________ quisiera que volviera mi hermano de su viaje por el mundo!

Answers –

1. Cómo  

2. como  

3. como  

4. Cómo 

5. cómo   

6. Cómo   

7. como   

8. Cómo   

9. como   

10. Cómo   

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