Feeling a bit uncertain about how to say Spanish words? Don’t worry! I’ll introduce you to the sounds of Spanish today.
If the thought of sounding like a gringo makes you cringe, you’re in the right place. In this post, I go over the Spanish alphabet letters and the key differences between Spanish and English sounds.
Pronunciation is important for many reasons, but many struggle with where to begin. Here I have listed some good audio resources that I believe will help you get on the right track! So, whether you’re already familiar with how Spanish sounds or completely new to it, these tips should help you get started speaking Spanish clearly and understanding others.
The Spanish Alphabet
At first glance, the Spanish and English alphabets look the same. But let me show you the big differences, what matters for beginning learners.
How many letters are in the Spanish alphabet?
According to Real Academia Española there are 27 letters in the Spanish alphabet. Ñ is the only additional letter to the English alphabet. CH and LL, the double-digit letters have been gone since 2010.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N Ñ O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Each of the 27 letter symbols has a letter name and at least one letter sound. The letter names and letter sounds have different uses. Both are part of beginning Spanish phonics.
Spanish Letter Names
The letter names are important for spelling and alphabetizing. A traditional alphabet song is a good way to learn the letter names. Here’s a good video:
Spanish Alphabet Song – video and song
How to say the letter names
ah – be – ce – de – eh – efe – he – hache – i – jota – ka – ele – eme – ene – eñe – oh – pe – ku – ere – ese – te – u – ve – uve doble – equis – i griega – seta
Spanish Alphabet Sounds
More importantly, pronunciation is based on the letter sounds. One letter can have one or several different sounds. Many of the Spanish letter sounds are completely different from the English ones. Here are a couple of free audio resources that introduce basic Spanish letter sounds.
Pronouncing the Spanish Alphabet – spanishdict.com
- This guide has a sound explanation and audio clip for each letter sound.
Spanish Alphabet Pronunciation for Kids – You Study Spanish
- For each letter, there is a cute picture with the pronunciation of the letter and word.
To improve your pronunciation, as you discover new vocabulary, also learn the correct Spanish pronunciation from the beginning.
The 5 Spanish Vowel Sounds
One sound for each vowel makes Spanish really easy to read. But, first, you must learn the correct sounds for each vowel through repetition. Practicing the vowel will make the correct pronunciation of vowels automatic.
Letter Symbol A – E – I – O – U
Letter Sound AH – EH – EE – OH – OO
Pronunciation Tip – All of the vowel sounds are very short, meaning said quickly and clipped (not drawn out).
The 22 Consonants
For the consonants, some are the same, similar, or completely different sounds from English. The best way to approach Spanish consonants is to watch and listen to a native speaker. Some of them have different tongue and lip positions. Imitate until you get it right!
Learn how to say the letters and sounds in Spanish Butterfly Spanish Video
List of Spanish Consonant Sounds
Letters with Similar Sounds
For the most part, these letters are close to English
- C – k or s
- F – f
- K – k
- L – l
- M – m
- N – n
- P – p (short, clipped)
- S – s
- T – t (softer)
- W – w
- G – g or h
- J – h
- Q – k
- X (usually) – h (or occasionally ks / s)
- Y – y (same sound for LL) or ee
- Z – s
- B and V – b
- D – th
- H – silent
- Ñ – ny
- R – r or rr (tapping sound close to a t or tt)
As you can see, there are some big differences in the letter sounds between both languages. Taking the time to focus on learning the correct Spanish pronunciation will give you a solid foundation for your language skills, especially listening and speaking skills.
Now it’s your turn! Please answer these questions in the comments: What Spanish sounds are hard for you to say? How do you practice pronunciation?
Spanish Sounds Guide