How do you say that in Spanish? One word sounds completely different in Spanish. I break down the ways English and Spanish are the same and different, so you can say words right.
The Spanish Alphabet
At first glance, the Spanish and English alphabets look the same. But let me show you the big differences, what really matters for beginning learners.
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 have 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 free audio resources that introduce basic Spanish letter sounds.
Pronouncing the Spanish Alphabet – spanishdict.com
- This guide has 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 pronunciation of 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 correct pronunciation of vowels automatic.
Letter Symbol A – E – I – O – U
Letter Sound AH – EH – EE – OH – OO
Pronunciation Tip – All of the vowels 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 the 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 the letter sounds between both languages. Taking the time to focus on learning the correct Spanish pronunciation will give a solid foundation for your language skills, especially listening and speaking skills.
In sum, learning the Spanish sounds is important to have good pronunciation.