Spanish For Beginners - Pronunciation

Spanish For Beginners – Pronunciation

We all find it hard when starting a new language, and one of the trickiest things can be pronunciation. What we will do is give you a quick run-through of the rules and how they apply them to Spanish words.

Photographer: Jaunt and Joy | Source: Unsplash

Welcome to Spanish for beginners, a pronunciation guide, the first thing we are going to look at is the Spanish Alphabet.

a b c ch d e f g h i j k l ll m n ń o p q r s t u v x y z

Firstly we can see that there is on w, but we do have three new letters that are not in the English alphabet, ch, ll, and ń. Let's start with the vowels.

The Vowels

Unlike English vowels, Spanish vowels only have one sound.

  • a is said as in cat, not as in say.
  • e is said as in beg.
  • i is said as in feet, not as in sit.
  • o is said as in not, not as in note.
  • u is the exception, it has two options! it is said as in cool, unless it is between a g and an i, or a g and an e, then it is silent, even then if it has two dots over it, then you do pronounce it as described. Easy?

The Consonants

We will look at the consonants the differ from the English consonants and leave the three new letters (ch, ll, and ń) until the end.

  • b and v have the same sound, not as harsh as either of the English version, more a light breathy combination of the two.
  • c is pronounced as in cat, unless it is followed by an e or i, then it is pronounced like th in this.
  • d is very similar but slightly softer than the English version, especially if it falls at the end of a word.
  • h is silent.
  • j should not be said as in jump, instead, it should be said like the ch in loch.
  • g has two sounds, it's pronounced like an English j (as in jump) if followed by an e or i, and like an English g (as in girl) when followed by a, o, and u.
  • qu is always pronounced like an English k, never a kw sound.
  • r is a letter you can have fun with, it should be rolled rrrr.
  • z is like the English th sound.

Go on have a go at a few words now, try Havier, Valladolid, quiosco, or Barcelona.

Stress Rules

Spanish words are in three groups when it comes to stressing the right part of the word, by stress I mean where you vocally emphasize the word (try saying emphasize out-loud, you will stress the em at the start of the word).

The first group is every word apart from those that end in a consonant other than n or s. In this first group, the stress is put on the last syllable as in calor, lavar, or nacionalidad.

The second group, the words that end in a vowel or n or s. Here the stress is on the syllable before last as in Mexico, nacimiento, or primavera.

The last group is nice and easy, if you see a word with a letter with an accent like a ń, then that is where the stress goes, as in marrûn or tambièn.

Well that’s those are the ground rules for Spanish for beginners, I really hope they have helped, you can have great fun with Spanish, give it a try.


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