Spanish alphabet and pronunciation

Aa

[car]

Bb

[book]/

[vote]*

Cc*

[cart]/

[ceiling]

Dd

[door]

Ee

[stem]

Ff

[focus]

Gg

[good]

Hh*

No sound

Ii

[knee]

Jj*

[hat]

Kk

[key]

Ll*

[love]*

LL ll

[your]

Mm

[much]

Nn

[name]

Ññ*

[canyon]

Oo

[boring]

Pp

[post]

Qq

[quality]

Rr*

[ring]

RR rr*

[arrogant]

Ss

[soon]

Tt

[take]

Uu

[rule]

Vv*

[vote]/

[book]

Ww

[vote]

Xx

[matrix]

Yy

[your]

Zz*

[theater]/ [soon]

Ch ch

[chapter]

As you can see, Spanish alphabet is almost the same as English and most sounds are also the same. However, there are nuances with some letters that are marked by *:

  • LL (double L) and Y are pronounced as Y in Y
  • Y is pronounced like English Y in [YEAR]. But only in the single-letter word Y – and, consisting from itself is pronounced as EE in [meet].
  • G: before a/o/u is pronounced G as in G Before i/e it is pronounced as H in [hat].
  • J is pronounced as H in [hat]. Also, J can be used instead of G when in process of conjugation one must place a/o/u after softened G. For example:

Escoger – to choose, pronounced as [eskoher]

Yo escojo – I choose, pronounced as [eskoho]

  • Ñ is soft N. Pronounced as NY in [canyon].
  • H doesn’t have a sound. This letter is called “Ache”. For example, the word Hablar – to speak is pronounced as [ablar], and the word Hijo – son is pronounced as [eeho].
  • C before a/o/u sounds like C in [club], but before i/e sounds like CE in [ceiling], as well as in English.
  • Z has different sounds in Spain and Latin America. In Spain Z sounds like TH in [theater], and in Latil America sounds like S in [soon]. Also, Z is used instead of C before e/i when in process of conjugation one must place a/o/u after. For example:

Yo hice – I did

Él hizo – He did

  • U is pronounced as U in [rule] or OO in [zoom]
  • U in QU, CU, GU doesn’t have a sound. It is used after G, C to keep the sound hard from softening letters i/e. For example, in the word Guitarra U is used to keep sound G, because without U this word would sound as “hitarra”.
  • Ü is pronounced as usual OO in ZOO Used in , , when there must be the sound U instead of a diphthong. Example: Vergüenza – shame
  • Qu – equivalent of C except before a/o/u. Used instead of C when in process of conjugation one must place i/e after C. Example:

Yo toco la guitarra – I play guitar, pronounced [toko]

Yo toqué la guitarra – I played guitar, pronounced [toké]

  • R – is pronounced as R in English, but with a slight lingual flap.
  • RR – is pronounced as strong rolled R.
  • K, W – equivalents of C, V, they are used only in loan words.
  • Ch equals English CH as in CH
  • B and V don’t have a difference in pronunciation. Spanish speakers pronounce these sounds either as B or as V depending on local accent, or as a sound between both of these letters.

Stressed syllables in Spanish language

If a word ends on a vowel and on the consonants N, S – the accent is on the penultimate syllable, e.g. ESTABAN, if a word ends on a consonant apart from N, S – the accent is on the last syllable, e.g. NACIONAL.

If the accent doesn’t fit these rules – there must be an accent mark above, e.g. ESTÁ.

Also, the accent mark is written in some words to distinguish their meaning: SÍ – yes, SI – if, QUÉ – what, QUE – than, that, ÉL – he, EL – definite article, and others.

Read these words now and build sentences with them after the next lesson:

Gracias – thanks [grásias]

Hola – hello [óla]

Humano – human [umáno]

Mañana – morning/tomorrow [manyána]

Amorlove [amór]

Practicar – to practice [practicár]

Carretera – road [carretéra]

Español – Spanish [espaniól]

Lluvia – rain [yúvia]

Difícil – difficult [difícil]

Carretera – road [carretéra]

Hamster – hamster [ámster]

Incredible – increíble [increíbleh]

Plaza – square [plátha (Spain)/ plása (LA)]

Amarillo – yellow [amaríyo]

Zapatos – shoes [thapátos (Spain)/sapatos (LA)]

Joven – young [hóven]

Llamar – to call [yamár]

Rechazar – to reject [rechathár (Spain), Rechasár (LA)]

Ser – to be [ser]

Estar – to be [estár]

Dibujar – to draw [dibuhár]

Empezar – to start/begin [empethár (Spain), empesár (LA)]

Hijo – son [éeho]

Hija – daughter [éeha]

Lápiz – pencil [lápith (Spain)/ lapis(LA)]

Quierer – to want [querér]

Vergüenza – shame [verguéntha (Spain)/[verguénsa (LA)]

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