The following is intended to give you a general idea of Spanish pronunciation. Although not necessary for reading purposes, knowledge of the sounds is helpful if you also plan to speak the language.
The English words given below are not always exact equivalents of the Spanish sounds. When not, they are the closest approximation in English.
Spanish vowels are pronounced quickly, clearly and sharply. They are never drawn out.
|a, as in “father”||amigo – friend
casa – house
|e, as in “café”||mesa – table
leche – milk
|i, as in “machine”||día – day
yanqui – Yankee, American
|o, as in “open”||lobo – wolf
todo – all, everything
|u, as in “rule” or “moon”||uno – a, an, one
mucho – many, much
b and v (pronounced identically)
As in “boy,” when occurring initially or after an n or m:
In all other positions, this sound is very weak and the lips do not touch, or do so only barely:
As in “cat,” before a, o, and u:
As in “sun,” before e and i:
In most of Spain, the ce– and ci– combinations are pronounces like the “th” in “thin.”
ch as in “chew”
As in “dawn,” when occurring initially or after n and l:
As in the “th” in “they” in all other positions:
f, l, m, n, p and t are pronounced approximately as in English.
As in “go,” when occurring before a, o, and u, or after a consonant:
|ganar||to gain (to win, to earn)|
As in “house,” but stronger, when occurring before e and i:
h, always silent
j, as in the “h” in “house,” but stronger (same sound as occurs in ge– and gi– combinations):
|jota||J (letter of alphabet)|
k, as in English. Used only in foreign words.
ll, as in “million” or as in the “y” in “yes”:
ñ, as in “canyon”:
qu, always followed by e or i as in English “k” (the u is silent):
|equis||X (letter of alphabet)|
r, pronounced by tapping the tip of the tongue against the gums of the upper front teeth:
|querer||to want, to love|
rr, or the single initial r, or after n and l, pronounced by trilling the tip of the tongue against the gums of the upper front teeth:
Usually as in “see”:
As in “rose,” when occurring before m, d, and g:
w, as in English. Found only in foreign words.
As in “see,” when not between vowels:
As in “x” in “exact,” when occurring between vowels:
z, as in “see”:
In most of Spain, the z is pronounced like the “th” in “thin.”