How to Pronounce Spanish Words

If you’re coming from a Germanic language like English, it can take some time to get used to Spanish pronunciation. Luckily, the general sounds are simple to make and words are almost always read the way they are spelt, making it easy to sound words out.

The Spanish Alphabet

Spanish uses the standard Latin alphabet, with a few modified letters.

Vowels

  • A – Pronounced “Ah” like the a in “Wad”
  • E – Pronounced “Eh” like the e in “Kept”
  • I – Pronounced “ee” like the ea in “Bean”
  • O – Pronounced “o” like the o in “order”

Consonants

The majority of Spanish consonants are the same as in English, but there are a few very common types of letter modifications.

  • B and V – Both of these letters make a “B” sound
  • C and Z – These letters share the same sound. In Spain, they are pronounced similarly to a “th” sound, as in “the”. In Atlantic varieties of Spanish, they are pronounced with an “s” sound.
  • D – This letter is often pronounced lighter than a D in English; closer to a “th” sound.
  • G – Pronounced as an “H” when before a vowel. Pronounced same as an English “G” after a consonant.
  • H – Silent letter; is not pronounced.
  • J – Similar to an “H” sound, like in “hockey”.
  • LL – Double Ls create a “Y” sound. Example: “Calle” is pronounced “Cah-Yeh”.
  • Ñ – An “N” with a tilde (accent mark) is called an “enye”. It creates an “ny”, like in the name “Tanya”.
  • RR – Double Rs create a rolling “R” sound. This is called an alveolar trill. This is created by pushing air past the tongue while it is near the roof of the mouth. There is no equivalent sound in english, but the initial sound is similar to pronouncing the word “three” with a trilled R sound.
  • Y – Can be pronounced like a vowel or the same way as in English. As a vowel, such as in “Y tu?”, pronounced the same way as “I”. As a consonant, Y is pronounced such as the Y in “yellow.

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