The Spanish Alphabet and The Right Pronunciation

spanish alphabet
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When I used to play instructional videos by Americans or Brits, Kristina and her mother would leave the room, cringing. Always! That’s why I decided to put this post together, welcome to the Spanish Alphabet Pronunciation Guide. 

 

Kristina and her mother couldn’t stand the choppiness of the oral instructions. To them it sounded like castellaño had been ground up through a rusty mincer, serving up a tasteless blend of strange sounds as a means of communication. They were offended by the absence of emphasis where the ‘tilde’ floats above vowels. They especially couldn’t stand that I intended to learn their beloved language without the Latin music of their native tongue. That is my dramatic way of telling you to learn Spanish the right way! Don’t skip the basics.

 

There is no excuse really. With enough Youtube videos to learn from, Spanish movies to be entertained by and the innumerable podcasts, you can very easily expose yourself to the native sound of the language.

 

I know you are smart. And I know you can memorize all of the vocabularies that may fit in a Spanish dictionary, but wouldn’t all of that work be a waste if you aren’t pronouncing things correctly? Build on a strong foundation. Or at least try.

 

If not, you would be like one of those guys that live in the gym. The ones that lift and eat all day, those with giant arms, swollen chests, wide backs and rugged abs. You are impressed until you start to scan downwards to find an unproportional foundation. They have twigs for legs. NEVER SKIP LEG DAY! Strengthen the basis of your Spanish learning by practising the right pronunciation.

 

But no pressure. It takes time. Feel free to check back in every now and again to make sure you aren’t building your acumen of Spanish with the wrong sonic habits.

 

With that being said, think we are safe to begin. In this article we are going focus solely on the Alphabet, then I’ll work on articles that deal with Vowels, Accents, and Stresses.

 



THE SPANISH ALPHABET (29 LETTERS. Well, 27 depending on where you learn)

 

GOOD NEWS! Spanish pronunciation is not like English. And that is FANTASTIC. Letters tend to keep the one sound you learn. Once you have the pronunciation of a letter perfected, you don’t have to worry about changing that sound depending on different words.

 

NOTE: There are different forms of the Spanish Language, pronunciation will shift depending on the region. I practice Castellano, spoken in the European country of Spain. This means you are going to be learning to ingratiate the Castilian lisp into the way you pronounce Spanish words. Hey, they invented the language, might as learn it their way.

 

1. LETTER [NAME IN SPANISH]:

A [ A ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘AH’ as in, AH! I finally get how to pronounce the first letter of the Spanish alphabet.

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

The Spanish word ‘ALTO’ means ‘TALL’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘AH-L-TOH.’

 

B [ BE ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘BEH’ as in, how you would start to enunciate the English word ‘BEG.’ (BEH-G)

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

The Spanish word ‘BANDERA’ means ‘FLAG’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘B-AN-DEH-RAH.’

 

C [ CE ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘THEH’ as in, how you would start to enunciate the English word ‘THERMOMETER.’ (THEH-RMOMETER)

In Latin America, this would be pronounced as ‘SEH.’ That are not fans of the ‘lisp-ing.’

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

While in action this letter can be a bit stubborn. It has two pronunciations. Firstly, If the Spanish ‘C’ comes before the Vowels, ‘E’ or ‘I,’ it takes up the smooth ‘TH-’ sound. For example, the Spanish word ‘CIELO’ means ‘SKY’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘THE-EH-LOH.’

 

But then if the Spanish ‘C’ comes before the consonants and the Vowels, ‘A’ or ‘O’ or ‘U,’ it takes up the ‘K’ sound. For example, the Spanish word ‘CAMIÓN’ means ‘TRUCK’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘K-AH-ME-ÓN.’ Just as you would pronounce the Spanish ‘CUERPO’ (BODY in English) as ‘K-OO-EHR-POH.’

 

CH [ CHE ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘CHEH’ as in, how you would start to enunciate the English word ‘CHECK.’ (CHEH-CK)

 

NOTE: While teaching in at the Elementary and High School levels in Spain, I found that the letter ‘CH’ was not taught as a part of the alphabet.

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

The Spanish word ‘CHALECO’ means ‘VEST’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘CHAH-LEH-COH.’

 

D [ DE ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘TTHEH’ as in, if you are in Spain, you need to pronounce your ‘D’s’ more like HARD ‘TTH’s.’ Make the sound quickly and move on the rest of your Spanish word.

 

In Latin America, this would be pronounced as ‘DEH.’

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

The Spanish word ‘DENTRO’ means ‘INSIDE’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘TTH-EHN-TR-OH.’

 

E [ E ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘EH’ as in, how you would start to enunciate the English word ‘ELECTRIC’ (EH-LECTRIC).

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

The Spanish word ‘ESPOSA’ means ‘WIFE’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘EH-SPOH-SAH.’

 

F [ EFE ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘EH-FEH’ as in, don’t over complicate this one. As a stand-alone letter, the Spanish ‘F’ sounds like the Spanish word ‘HEFFE’ (‘BOSS’ in English), which is pronounced ‘EHF-FEH’. When you find the letter in a Spanish word, you can won’t sound off if you pronounce this letter the way you would amidst an English word.

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

The Spanish word ‘FRENTE’ means ‘FOREHEAD’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘F-R-EHN-TEH.’ The letter ‘F’ won’t cause you much trouble in Spanish, no worries here.

 

G [ GE ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘KHH-EH’ as in, the pronunciation of this letter starts in your throat. As if the letter ‘H’ is lodged in your throat like a tiny but stubborn fishbone. Get the irritation out with a quick ‘GHH.’ And ‘EH!’ would you look at that, the sound comes out. (‘GHH-EH’)

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

Another stubborn one. The Spanish ‘G’ has two pronunciations. Firstly, If the Spanish ‘G’ comes before the Vowels, ‘E’ or ‘I,’ it takes up the guttural-sounding ‘GHH-’. For example, the Spanish word ‘GENERAL’ means ‘GENERAL’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘KHH-EH-NEH-RAH-L.’

 

But then if the Spanish ‘G’ comes before the consonants and the Vowels, ‘A’ or ‘O’ or ‘U,’ it takes up the shorter ‘GH-’ sound. For example, the Spanish word ‘GATO’ means ‘CAT’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘G-AH-TOH’.’ Just as you would pronounce the Spanish ‘GORRO’ (CAP in English) as ‘GH-OH-RRR-OH.’

 

H [ HACHE ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘AH-CHEH’ as in time to forget about pronouncing the letter H in Spanish word. Take for example the pronunciation of the letter itself, ‘HACHE.’ You wouldn’t start it off the way you would start to pronounce the English word ‘HAT.’ The ‘H’ is completely silent.

 

If ‘HAT’ were a Spanish word you would simply say ‘AT.’ Because the Spanish seem to have a vendetta against the letter ‘H.’ They see it and tend to ignore it. Thus instead of pronouncing the Spanish letter as ‘HAH-CHEH,’ You would say ‘AH-CHEH.’ If you think about it, the pronunciation of the letter is really good practice for pronouncing words that contain the letter. The ‘H’ in ‘HACHE’ is silent.

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

REMEMBER! This one is SILENT! The Spanish word ‘HELADO’ means ‘ICECREAM’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘EH-LAH-TTH-OH.’

 

I [I]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘EE’ as in, the Spanish letter ‘I’ is pronounced like the English letter ‘E.’ Think about how you enunciate the ‘I’ in the English word ‘IGLOO.’ Sounds a whole lot like ‘EE-GLOO.’ Well there you go, you have one more letter under your belt.

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

The Spanish word ‘IZQUIERDA’ means ‘LEFT (THE DIRECTION)’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘EE-TH-KEE-ER-TTH-AH.’

 

J [ JOTA ]

 

THE LETTER PRONUNCIATION – SOUNDS LIKE:

‘KHHO-TAH’ as in, time to use your throat! Again! The pronunciation of the Spanish JOTA has a guttural beginning. Follow the instructions for pronouncing the Spanish ‘G’ and then tack on the ‘OTAH.’ (‘KHHO-TAH’ )

 

EXAMPLE IN ACTION:

The Spanish word ‘JAMÓN’ means ‘HAM’ in English. You would pronounce the Spanish word as ‘KHH-AHM-ÓN.’

Bayo

Bayo is a digital content creator who works on behalf of various businesses and B&K MAG. He expresses his gratitude to everyone who has played a part in his professional and personal growth. Photography, travel and directing videos were an accidental passion but being a writer for Bonds and Kindness has always been the dream. He hopes you enjoy the site, you are the reason it exists.

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