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Spanish Language Pronunciation

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Spanish Pronunciation

Without centering too much in regional aspects, Spanish pronunciation is not that hard for an English speaker. There are many differences of course, but also similarities.

We will start with the 5 vocals in Spanish. They all have only one possible sound:

a =as in “father”
e = as in “wet”
i = as the ee in “see
o = as in “pot”
u = as the oo in “food”, except in “gue”, “gui” and after “q” where it is silent

Some consonants sound just like in English, except:

c = sounds like the English “k”, except in “ce” and “ci” where it sounds as th in “thin” (pronunciation from Spain, in Latin America it sounds like the English “s”)
g = as in “get”, except in “ge” and “gi” when it sounds like h in “hat”, but stronger
h = always silent (except in ch, which sounds as in “church”)
j = sounds like the English h as in “hat” but stronger. As ch in the Scottish word “loch
ll = sounds like the y in “yes”, for Spain pronunciation (in the Río de la Plata it is “sh”)
ñ = sounds like the ni in “onion”
q = always pronounced as the English “k”
r = if it is at the beginning of a word, it sounds like “rr”. If in the middle, it sounds similar to English, but stronger.
rr = does not exist in English. It is a very strong and vibrating “r”, like a child simulating the sound of a car or motor
z = similar to th in “thin” in Spain (other regions pronounce it as “s”)

The rest of the letters sound similar to English, so here are some examples to see and practice what you have just learned :

Gato (cat) =ga as in “garden”, to as in “toddler”.
Vino (wine) = sounds like “v-ee-no
Hombre (man) =remember h is silent, so “om-bre
Bailar (to dance) = the diphthong sound as the individual letters, so “baee-lar
Gente (people) = the g before e or i sound like an English h, so here it should be “hen-teh
Cero (zero) = c before e or i sounds like an English “th”, so it sounds “th-eh-ro
Cerro (mountain) = mind how the double rr completely changes the meaning! This one sounds stronger “th-eh-rro

 

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