Spanish Pronunciation

How to pronounce Spanish

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Spanish Pronunciation

Spanish Letter English Sound
a ah as in father
e ay as in bait
i ee as in feet
o oh as in coat
u oo as in moon
ai / all / ay as in eye
ca, co, cu, c + cons. k as in kite
ce, ci s as in see (most varieties of Spanish) / th as in thief (northern/central Spain)
d similar to th as in thigh when between 2 vowels
ga, go, gue, gué, gui g as in go
gua, güe, güi, guo gw
ge, gi hard h (similar to last sound in loch or Bach)
h (silent - not pronounced in Spanish)
j hard h (similar to last sound in loch or Bach)
ll y as in yes (most varieties)
lli as in million (northern/central Spain)
zh as in measure (Argentina)
ñ ny as in canyon
qu k as in kite
r similar to a soft d when between 2 vowels; sometimes weakened to l
rr r with a roll of the tongue
s s as in see but often weakened to h or not pronounced when at end of syllable (most of Latin America, southern Spain/Canary Islands)
v b at beginning of word, very soft b between 2 vowels
z s as in see but often weakened to h or not pronounced when at end of syllable (most of Latin America, southern Spain/Canary Islands) / th as in thief (northern/central Spain)


  1. The five vowels in Spanish are all pure vowels: [a], [e], [i], [o], [u] Be sure that you do not pronounce a diphthong as we do in English (the extra yuh or wuh sound at the end). Other consonants not listed are pronounced as in English, i.e. m as in man, y as in yes, etc.

  2. The two major differences in pronunciation between southern Spain/Latin America and northern/central Spain are called seseo and yeísmo. Seseo refers to the pronunciation of both s and z as s, while yeísmo refers to the pronunciation of ll as y - both are features of southern Spain/Canary Islands/Latin America Spanish.

  3. One feature of Spanish pronunciation that is often missing from textbooks is the loss of final -s. When -s is at the end of a syllable, it often weakens to -h or it is not pronounced at all. This occurs in southern Spain, the Canary Islands, and throughout Latin America, with the exception of some parts of Mexico and the Andean areas of South America. Final -r can also weaken to -l or even -y in Cuban Spanish. In fact, many consonants are much weaker and softer in Spanish than in English, as noted above with d, r, and v.


Stress: Just as in English, Spanish stresses a certain syllable in a word. If a word ends in a consonant, except s or n, the stress is on the last syllable. If a word ends in a vowel, or s or n, the stress is on the second-to-last syllable. For words that do no follow these rules, an accent is written over the vowel so that you will know to stress that syllable, as in el pájaro (bird).

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