Spanish Language Blog

¿Jirafa o girafa? Posted by on Jun 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

The letters g and j are pronounced the same way in some cases and in others they represent different phonemes. Here are some useful rules so you don’t get them wrong anymore!

1. The letter g, before the vowels e and i, is pronounced like the h in hat (but harder), and in this case it coincides with the pronunciation of the letter j:

Agitar (to stir) – engendrar (to cause) – geranio (geranium) – gitano (gypsy)

2. Before the vowels a, o, and u, the letter g sounds like the g in the word get:
Agua (water) – algún (some, any) – gato (cat) – gorra (cap, hood)

3. When you want the e and i to sound like the g in gato, add the letter u; however, the u sound is not uttered:
Aguerrido (hardened, veteran) – conseguir (to manage, to get) – guepardo (cheetah) – guirnalda (garland)

4. When in the combination gu+e/i, the u sound is pronounced, the u has to carry a dieresis (ü).

Paragüero (umbrella stand) – pingüino (penguin)

5. The letter j always has the same sound, a strongly aspired h.
Reloj (clock) – joven (young) – enjabonar (to lather, soap)

6. In some foreign words, both the letter g and the letter j sound like the letter j in the word January.

Adagio – gentleman – jacuzzi – jet set – judo – banjo – gillete – jazz – joule – júnior – disc-jockey – gincana – jeep – jiu-jitsu – majorette

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


  1. Nancy H:

    I am looking when to use j or g in spanish, when I suppost use j or when to use g.
    Your informacion is No help for my question.