Looking for a way to improve your pronunciation? Don't miss the Spanish alphabet and the letter sounds that will make you sound amazing.
How you speak makes an impression. Learning how to pronounce Spanish clearly and accurately sends a message. It tells others you can communicate effectively. Bad pronunciation can cause problems. One of them is saying the wrong thing and being misunderstood. It is a big mistake to use your English set of sounds to speak Spanish. That's why learning Spanish phonics is so important.
Below, you'll find basic facts about the alphabet in Spanish and how to pronounce the letter sounds. Since, English and Spanish share the same historic roots, they have many similarities. That gives you a head start. On the other hand, the differences are what really matters for beginners. Be sure to focus on those to make the most improvements in terms of good pronunciation.
Alphabet in Spanish
At first glance, the Spanish and English alphabets look the same. They are both based on the Latin alphabet from centuries ago. However, over time there has been one small change.
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To begin with, the alphabet in Spanish is called el alfabeto or el abecedario. Both are names for the group of letters that are used in Spanish. Each letter in the alphabet represents one sound. Today, the Spanish alphabet has 27 letters according to the Real Academia Española.
Spanish Alphabet Letters
The alphabet line below shows all the letters for the Spanish alphabet. It is the same as the English alphabet except for one additional letter, the Ññ. This extra letter is shown in red.
Even though we don't use this letter in English, we still do use the sound. For example, we say the ñ sound in the the word barnyard.
Are ch and ll letters in the Spanish alphabet?
Not too long ago, the Spanish alphabet had two more letters. You may be wondering what happened to the double letters "ch" and "ll". Since we live in the digital age, the double consonants got dropped. They didn't fit into single digit format for computing. Officially, they have been gone since 2010. Yet, they are still listed in some dictionaries.
Spanish Alphabet Pronunciation
At this point, it's necessary to point out that each letter has a name and at least one sound. Both have their own purposes. The name is how we identify the letter. The actual spoken sound is different from the letter name.
Spanish Alphabet Song
Although English and Spanish share the same alphabet letters, each letter has a different name in each language. We use the letter name to spell and alphabetize words. The letter names are important for spelling and alphabetizing. A traditional alphabet song is a good way to learn the letter names.
Spanish Alphabet Song Video
This video has an animated video of the letters with a catchy song. At the end, he adds on a silbario. A silario combines a consonant with the five vowels. There is more about consonants and vowels below. Here's the YouTube video link:
How to Pronounce the Spanish Alphabet Letters
The Spanish alphabet has twenty two consonants and five vowels. The vowels are blue in the following chart. Similarly, the consonants are black. All together these form el abecedario, what we call an alphabet. Below the letter is the pronunciation of the letter name.
Spanish Alphabet Pronunciation Chart
On the whole, the alphabet is one of the basic parts of language. The letter names are useful for writing, alphabetizing and spelling. The letter names are all essential for these parts of grammar. The Alphabet Banner Craft is a tool to help learn the letter names and sounds.
Spanish Alphabet Pronunciation
With the Spanish letters in mind, good pronunciation comes from understanding how the letters sound. Some sounds are similar, a few are completely different and in a couple cases the sounds are entirely new. Good speaking habits form from an early focus on saying the sounds accurately.
To begin with, become familiar with all of the letter sounds. Each letter represents at least one sound. Sharpen your listening skills with these audios of how the Spanish letter sounds are pronounced. Do your best to imitate what you hear.
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.
The Spanish Vowel Sounds
All the letters may be divided into two kinds - vowels and consonants. They are combined to create syllables. And one or more syllables create a word. After the abecedario, el silbario puts together combinations of letters. Most often, the combination is a consonant plus a vowel.
How many vowels are there in Spanish?
In total, there are five vowels. The best part is that there are also only five sounds. Unlike English, each Spanish vowel has only one sound. So anytime you see a, it says ah.
Spanish Vowel Sound Pronunciation
Letter Symbol A - E - I - O - U
Letter Sound AH - EH - EE - OH - OO
Most importantly, all the vowels sounds are very short and crisp. They take one quick burst of air through the lips. On the other hand, English vowels flow softly and have many variations.
The Spanish Consonant Sounds
Finally, this part is tricky. It's easier when you focus on each letter individually. Compared to English, some are the similar, others are different, a few are new sounds and one just disappears. The differences show in the movement of the lips and tongue. So, it helps to actually watch how a native speaker says it. Imitate others until you get it right.
Spanish Letter Sound Video
Learn how to say the letters and sounds in Spanish Butterfly Spanish Video
Spanish Vowel Sound Pronunciation
The consonants fall into one of three categories - similar, different or new sounds. Below I give a basic explanation of the sound. Best practice is to lip read and listen to a native speaker. This list will get you started.
Letters with Similar Sounds
For the most part, these letters are close to English sounds:
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 - hard 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 air
Ñ - ny
R - r or rr (tapping sound close to a t or tt)
In brief, practicing the Spanish letter sounds for accuracy will improve the quality of your conversational skills. Your ability to listening will improve right along with your speaking ability. The result is a greater connection with others and more opportunities unfold. Taking the time now to improve pronunciation makes a big difference.
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