• Spanish course for beginners
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  • 1 The alphabet in Spanish [0/1]
  • 2 Spanish pronunciation rules [0/3]
  • 3 Introduce yourself in Spanish [0/2]
  • 4 Greetings in Spanish [0/2]
  • 5 Telling the time in Spanish [0/1]
  • 6 Counting in Spanish [0/3]
  • 7 Colours in Spanish [0/4]
  • 8 Days and months in Spanish [0/4]
  • 9 Weather in Spanish [0/2]
  • 10 Emotions in Spanish [0/3]
  • 11 Needs and opinions in Spanish [0/2]
  • 12 Asking for directions in Spanish [0/2]
  • 13 Foods and drinks in Spanish [0/3]
  • 14 How to order food in Spanish [0/2]
  • 15 Body parts in Spanish [0/4]
  • 16 Clothes in Spanish [0/3]
  • 17 Family in Spanish [0/3]
  • 18 Birthday wishes and party words in Spanish [0/3]
  • 19 Hobbies in Spanish [0/3]
  • 20 Animal names in Spanish [0/2]
  • 21 Countries and nationalities in Spanish [0/3]
  • Spanish pronunciation rules

    ¡Buenos días! Let´s get started with voicing Spanish!

    Theory and practice of Spanish pronunciation

    Vocalization of Spanish letters might be confusing for an English speaker as they represent different sounds from their English equivalents. Let´s take a look on those letters that make a difference with regard to pronunciation. 

    g pronunciation

    The letter g before the vowels a, o, u, ue, ui has the English hard g sound, such as in the word "good". However, before e and i, g sounds as exaggerated English h

    g sound exaggerated h sound
    guerra (war) gerente (manager)
    gastos (expenses) gigante (giant)
    gorro (hat) gente (people)

    g pronunciation Spanish

    y pronunciation

    The pronunciation of Spanish letter y is the same as of Spanish i. For instance:

    • hoy (today)
    • setenta y uno (seventy one)
    • ida y vuelta (round trip).

    ll pronunciation

    Depending on the Spanish-speaking country or region this letter could be heard as [ʝ], [ʒ] or [ʃ]. Notwithstanding, the majority of Spanish speakers say it like the letter y. In other words, ll and y represent the same sound. It could be compared to the sounding of the English "yes". For instance:

    • lluvia (rain)
    • llaves (keys)
    • llano (flat)
    • zapatillas (sneakers). 

    x pronunciation

    The Spanish x sounds just like the English one. Exception to the rule are the names containing x. In this cases the letter would rather sound as English h

    x sound h sound
    xenófobo (xenophobic) México
    xilografía (woodcut) Xavier

     

    z pronunciation

    In Spain it is pronounced like English th in the vocable "thanks" for example. In Latin America the same letter sounds like s. Some Z-words: 

    • zanahoria (carrot) 
    • zapato (shoe)
    • zanja (ditch). 

    v pronunciation

    In Spanish v and b represent the same sound:

    • Valencia (Valencia) 
    • vacaciones (holidays)
    • viernes (Friday). 

    j pronunciation

    J is alike English h in "hi", but exaggerated. It is also the same as Spanish ge and gi: 

    • joven (young)
    • jornada (working day)
    • junio (June). 

    u pronunciation

    It's like English oo in "roof", but shorter in the majority of the words. In the variants gui, gue and qu it is silent, unless it is marked this way:

    • güe
    • güi. 
    oo sound, but shorter silent u güe, güi
    Usted (you, polite) guerra (war) pingüino (penguin)
    uno (one) guitarra (guitar) cigüeña (stork)

     

    c pronunciation

    If it´s followed by the vowel sounds e and i, the pronunciation of the letter is like th in English (in Spain) or like s (in Latin America). If the letter is followed by the vowels a, o and u it is pronounced as k.

    th sound or s sound k sound
    cerveza (beer) cuando (when)
    cielo (sky) comida (food)

     

    Diphthongs

    Do you remember the pronunciation lesson number 1 from the alphabet lecture? Let us remind you the most important points:

    1. Two strong vowels one next to the other = 2 separate syllables: europeo, paseo.
    2. Strong vowel + weak vowel = 1 syllable with stress on the strong vowel: antiguo, especial.
    3. Two weak vowels = 1 syllable with emphasis on the second vowel: suizo, influir.

    How to stress the accent

     Which are the common rules?

    1. Words that end in consonant different from N and S have stress on the last syllable: salud, pastel, personalidad.
    2. Words that end in a vowel, N or S have stress on the penultimate syllable: julio, persona, joven.

    The Spanish acute accent called tilde (á,é,ó,í,ú) is very important in the language. It indicates that the normal rules of the word stress are being violated. Words with accent mark have to be learnt by memory. For example:

    • murciélago
    • miércoles
    • sábado.

    Some more words with "tilde" are:

    Some words with acute accent in Spanish
    énfasis (emphasis)
    politización (politization)
    canción (song)
    francés (French)
    característica (characteristic)
    según (according)

     

    enlightenedAcute accents are also used to distinguish words written in the same way, but with divergent meanings. For instance: si (if) and (yes). 

    Spanish pronunciation

    Now you can watch the video below or practice with the audio, microphone and exercises. Have fun!

    Exercises

    Spanish pronunciation exercise - single choice question

    Spanish tilde - pronunciation exercise

    Accute accent in Spanish exercise