Pronunciation / Pronunciación

GOOD NEWS: Spanish pronunciation is much easier than English pronunciation.

1.Alphabet / Alfabeto

Spanish letters are almost always pronounced in the same way. Because of this, you will soon be able to speak and read aloud. There are some tips to better your pronunciation. It is advisable to check word stress.

In the following chart, the Spanish alphabet letters and their pronunciaton are featured. Simple examples of pronunciation are given (as similar as possible). Find the audio below:

Letter             Pronunciation                     English/ Spanish examples

A a
cat / gato
B b
boat / barca
C c
/Θ/ before e, i 
/k/ before a, o, u
think / cera
cat / cosa
D d
dot / dado
E e
ten / leve
F f
fan / favor
G g
/x/ before e, i
/g/ before a, o, u
/g/ in the cluster gu before e, i
loch / genial
go / gorro
guitarra / guerra
H h
/x/ in foreign words
/t∫/ in the cluster ch
loch / hámster
beach / churro
I i
pin / tipo
J j
loch / jarra
K k
Kenya / kilo
L l
/j/ when doubled (usual pronunciation)
lake / lago
yes / llave
M m
man / menos
N n
no / ni
Ñ ñ
/ŋ/ (similar to /nj/, when preceeding a vowel)
similar to onion / niño

O o
source / polo
P p
pin / palo
Q q
/k/ always combined qu
quick / que
R r
/r/ hard pronunciation
/г/ soft pronunciation
rule / regla
similar to AE matter / cera
S s
son / sano
T t
Similar to tap / tarro
U u
silent in the clusters gue, gui, qu
/w/ in the combinations güe, güi
/w/ before another vowel
queen / güisqui
quick / cuidar
superb / tuyo
V v
be / vaso
W w
/b/ (in some foreign words)
kiwi / kiwi
be / walkiria
X x

/s/ beginning a word
/x/ (some words)
excellent / examen

list / xenófobo
loch / México
Y y
/i/ (word y, end of words, before consonants)
/j/ (in the rest of the cases)
Lindy / ley

similar to yes / ya
Z z
think / zapato


2.Pronunciation: Tips and definitions / Pronunciación: consejos prácticos y definiciones

I have tried to simplify the Spanish pronunciation. Please, note that this is the standard for Spain. There are different accents depending on the Spanish region or the country (like those in South America). This is similar to English, according to the speaker’s origin. My advice: learn standard pronunciation at first. When you feel at ease speaking Spanish you will be able to recognize other accents.

Vowels are short and clear, even if they are unstressed.

Spanish and English intonation are similar. If you listen to other people speaking in Spanish you won’t have any problem with this issue.

syllable is a sound or group of sounds pronounced at a short time. It usually has only one vowel. Spanish word stress is quite different from English. 

diphthong is the combination of two vowels pronounced in the same syllable. A triphthong is the combination of three vowels pronounced in the same syllable.

hiatus is the succession of two vowels in different syllables.

An intermediate “h” doesn’t affect diphthongs, triphthongs or hiatus.

The diéresis (diaeresis) is a mark used in the combinations güe, güi, which means that the u is pronounced.

3. Word stress / La acentuación

Spanish words have only one stressed syllable (sílaba tónica). With the exception of adverbs ending in –mente, that have two stressed syllables: the one in the original adjective and men. Example: -cil-men-te (from fácil).

According to their stressed syllable, words are classified like this:

    Stressed syllable             Type                         Example

Third from last
Four or five from last

Most words are llanas.