Spanish Language Blog

Spanish Lesson Beginner 30 Spanish pronunciation rules Posted by on Feb 22, 2012 in Spanish Culture, Videos

Hola ¿Qué tal?

Today, we are going to look at improving your Spanish pronunciation with some important Spanish pronunciation rules.

Spanish pronunciation is actually quite straightforward. This might be hard to believe at first glance, but many of the Spanish letters are pronounced very similarly to their English counterparts and there is a definite, clear and consistent relationship between the spelling of all Spanish words and the way they are pronounced. This is not the case with English which is a notoriously tricky language for foreign speakers to pronounce correctly.

The key to good Spanish pronunciation is to be clear on how to pronounce each letter of the Spanish alphabet correctly.

Let first take a look at the Spanish vowels:

• a: ah (pa: pah, la: lah, ma: mah,…)
• e: eh (pe: peh, le: leh, me: meh,…)
• i: eeh (pi: peeh, li: leeh, mi: meeh,…)
• o: oh (po: poh, lo: loh, mo: moh,…)
• u: uh (pu: pooh, lu: looh, mu: mooh,…)

• ai: aire (air)
• ei: veinte (twenty)

Now let’s look at some of the trickier Spanish consonants:

• b=v: Barcelona: Valencia
• h: Silent: Hola (hello)
• j: As a strong English h: Jamón: Hamon (ham)
• ll: As an English y: Llamo: Yamo (I call)
• ñ: As the “ni” in “Onion”: Baño: Banio (bathroom)
• t: As an English “t” but without releasing air from your mouth: Té (tea)
• z: As a th, Zapato: Thapato (shoe) (or as an “s” in Latin America and some parts of the south of Spain)

Finally, let´s see some Spanish letters which have various pronunciations:

• c: ca, co, cu: As a “k”: Casa (house)
• ce, ci: As a th: Cesta (basket)

• g: ga, go, gu: As a “g” in “Goat”: Goma (rubber)
• gue, gui: As a “g” in “Goat”: Guitarra (guitar)
• ge, gi: As a Spanish “J”: General (general)

• r: Single R in the middle of a word: Roll it for a short time: Loro (parrot)
• Single R at the beginning of a word or in the middle after a consonant: Roll it for longer: Enrique, Roberto
• Double RR: Always roll it for longer: Carro (cart, car)

The sounds of the Spanish letters can vary a little bit depending on which letters are before and after them, but generally we can say that their sounds are distinct and constant. This makes things much easier for you, the Spanish student, and with a bit of care you can be reading Spanish texts out loud with assured pronunciation in no time at all.

English on the other hand is much harder to read out loud correctly until you are familiar with all the different vocabulary and exactly how each word is pronounced. The sounds of the letters vary frequently and often mysteriously and I believe that although the Spanish grammar may be a little trickier than the English grammar, the Spanish pronunciation is a lot more straightforward for the foreign language student.

The key to sounding like a native Spanish speaker is to be well practiced, methodical and disciplined in your pronunciation of the different Spanish letters. Many people assume that it is impossible to speak with a genuine Spanish accent… it really isn’t!

¡Disfruta tu español y hasta la proxima clase!

Tags: ,
Keep learning Spanish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Laura & Adam

Laura & Adam have been blogging and creating online Spanish courses for Transparent Language since 2010. Laura is from Bilbao in northern Spain and Adam is from Devon in the south of England. They lived together in Spain for over 10 years, where their 2 daughters were born, and now they live in Scotland. Both Laura & Adam qualified as foreign language teachers in 2004 and since have been teaching Spanish in Spain, the UK, and online.