Spanish Pronunciation

When you start learning a new language, the very first thing you should do is learn how that language is pronounced. Here I will compare the sounds of the Spanish language with the sounds of English language, so that you can reproduce the sound with little effort.

Lets start with the Vowels

The Vowels in Spanish really arent so difficult. Read the examples aloud, and repeat.

Vowels Comparable English Sound Comparable sound in English Words Some Spanish Examples
a ah
(Tip: The sound is open and clear. To practice open the mouth, jaw down.)
Like in the words: Rat, Car, Cat, Balcony Alba (Dawn)
Carta (A letter)
Amar (to love)
e eh
(Tip: to make it easier, say it with a smile)
Like in the words: Ether, Encounter, Essence Entre (between)
Establo (stable)
Estadio (stadium)
i ee
(Tip: It’s brief, and crisp. You can smile a small tight smile while saying it to practice at first)
Like in the words:
bee, eerie, instance, eagle
Isla (island)
Imitar (to imitate)
Libro (book)
o oh, uh
(Tip: It’s round and open. Say it with your mouth open in the shape of an ‘o’ to practice)
Like in the words:
musk, host, rock
Olmo (elm)
Olor (scent, a smell)
Orden (order)
u oo
(Tip: Say it with your mouth in a small ‘o’ shape, like you would to imitate an owl sound!)
Like in the words:
Loop, hoot, boot
Ulular (hoot)
Luz (light)
Mundo (world)

 

Now lets have a look at the Consonants

You will notice that many consonants are pronounced very similar to how they are pronounced in English, or equally, but with subtle differences. Read the examples aloud, and repeat. With practice comes ease, youll see.

Consonant Comparable English Sound Comparable Sound in English Words Some Spanish Examples
B Pronounced equally Beso (kiss)
C ‘s’ when in front of the vowels ‘i’ and ‘e’
‘c’ or ‘k’ the rest of the time
(*In Spain, there is a different sound for this letter when before the ‘e’ and ‘i’, but since this page is about the general, wider used Spanish, let’s stick to the sounds described here)
Ceiling, Same;
Come, Cling
Casa (house) [Pronounced: ca-sah]
Cielo (Sky) [Pronounced: see-eh-loh]
Cepillo (brush) [Pronounced: seh-pi-joh]
Ch Pronounced the equally Chatarra (junk)
D Pronounced equally, but slightly harder when ending a word Deseo (desire)
Vecindad (neighborhood)
F Pronounced equally Fuego (fire)
Felicidad (happiness)
G G Like in the words:
Game, goal, gamble
Gorro (hat)
Agua (water)
H The ‘h’ is silent Hielo (ice) [Pronounced: ee-eh-loh]
Hoja (leaf) [Pronounced: oh-ha]
J h Like in the words:
Hum, Hide, Home
Jaula (cage, jail) [Pronounced: Ha-oo-lah)
Joya (jewel) [Pronounced: ho-yah]
K Pronounced equally, but slightly softer Kilo (kilo)
L Pronounced equally, but with less stress on the tongue.
(Tip: Put the tip of the tongue right behind the upper teeth.)
Labio (lip)
M Pronounced equally Mosaico (mosaic)
N Pronounced equally Nuca (back of the neck)
P Pronounced equally, but with a little bit more ‘pop’ Polo (pole)
Q The pronunciation is similar. Always followed by the letter ‘u’, which is silent (Look at the Spanish word examples) Queso (cheese)
QuĆ­mica (chemistry)
R The ‘r’ in Spanish is a bit rolled. There’s a resemblance to the sound of the double t (tt) in English. When starting a word the ‘r’ is more stressed.
(Tip: Put the tip of the tongue in the palate, and blow. Let the tongue vibrate a little hitting the palate. Practice it alone before saying a word.)
*I know, the ‘r’ is one of the hard ones, but with practice, you’ll get there; don’t be afraid to exaggerate a little at first if it helps šŸ˜‰
Risa (laughter)
Aire (air)
Amor (love)
S Pronounced equally Sopa (soup)
T Pronounced equally Taza (cup)
V Pronounced equally, but in most cases, native Spanish speakers will usually pronounce it exactly like the ‘b’ Vase, base Vaca (cow)
Vidrio (glass)
W Pronounced equally (the ‘w’ usually appears in words not originally from Spanish, like names, for example.)
X ks, or similar to an ‘s’ sound when starting a word. XilĆ³fono (xylophone)
Y ‘ee’, when alone;
and similar to the English ‘j’ for the rest, but softer
Like in the words:
Joy, Jam, Jelly
Yema (yolk) [Pronounced: jeh-mah]
Yegua (mare) [Pronounced: jeh-guah]
Z S
(*the ‘z’ in Spain has a different sound, but since this page is all about general Spanish and keeping things simple, let’s stick to the more general, wider used, pronunciation)
Zapato (shoe)

 

 

More on the Spanish Alphabet (Special Letters!)

These ones may be considered the hard ones, but don’t fret! They really aren’t as hard as they seem; it just takes practice.

Letter Comparable sound to English Comparable sound in English words Spanish example words
Ƒ The closest I’ve heard could be the combination ‘ny’, especially when it precedes a vowel, like in the word ‘canyon’
(Tip: Pronounce a tight ‘n’, prolong it and combine it with the word ‘yogurt’. Say it over and over and increase the speed, and you should get a sound like ‘Ʊogurt’. It’s a little exercise that could help.)
Like in the word ‘Canyon’ NiƱo (child, boy)
PestaƱar (to blink)
Ll ‘j’, or ‘g’ like it sounds at the beginning of a word Like in the words:
Gesture, jest
Caballo (horse)
Llamada (a call)
Rr The double ‘r’ is trilled, hitting the tongue against the palate, right after the upper teeth.
(Tip: Practice the same exercise described for the simple ‘r’, but making a ‘t’ sound at the start. Some vocal teachers use this as a warm up exercise for singers.)
Arrojar (to toss, to throw)
Arruga (a wrinkle)