Beginner: Pronunciation rules for the Spanish alphabet

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Information about Beginner: Pronunciation rules for the Spanish alphabet

Published on September 23, 2014

Author: Poncela



Beginner: Pronunciation rules for the Spanish alphabet

R. Poncela International House Newcastle @spanish_newcast

 There are five vowels in the Spanish alphabet, the same as in English: a, e, i, o and u. However, we have only one possible pronunciation each. A, E, I, O, U

 To remember their sound, try this: part, pet, pit, port, put  Or also: bath, bet, bit, bought, boot Note: in Spanish there is no distinction between short and long vowels as there is in English (e.g., as in “bit”/”beat”).

The letter C:  Sounds like the Spanish z /Ɵ/ when it comes before e or i: Cero / Cien  Sounds like c /k/ when it comes before or after a, o, u Casa, Copa, Cuento, Calle, Simpático

The letter g:  Sounds like the Spanish j /x/ when it comes before e, I Genio, Ginebra, Generoso,  Sounds like the Spanish g /g/ in “got” when it comes before a, o, u Gato, gorro, gustar, gafas, bigote

 For g /g/ to sound like g in “got” before e/i, it must be followed by a silent u, as in guitarra (guitar) / guerra (war)  If you want to force the pronunciation of the u in gue/gui? Then, you must put a diaeresis (¨) over it, as in: pingüino (penguin) / lingüista (linguist)

The letter z:  The letter z /Ɵ/ may sound like s in “see” (Hispanic American accents) or like th in “thin” (standard Spaniard accent). Zapato ( shoe) / Rizado (curly)

The letter q:  The letter q always sounds like c in “cat”.  Almost always, it is followed by a silent u, and is used with i or e only. Queso (cheese) / pequeño (small) / Quito

The letter j :  The letter j may sound like h in “hot” (Hispanic America) or like ch in the Scottish word “loch” (Spain). Joven (young) / Jugar ( play)

Raúl R. Poncela King James I Academy MFL Department

The letter h:  The letter h is always silent. So, Hola (hello) and ola (wave) have exactly the same pronunciation Hablar (to speak) / Hijo (son)

The letter y:  The letter y sounds like j in “jet” when it is placed at the beginning of a syllable: Yo (I) / Mayo (May)  And like y in “very” in any other case: Y (and) / muy (very)

The letter r:  The letter r sounds like tt in “matter” (with USA accent) when: it is not at the beginning of a syllable, e.g., brazo (arm), tren (train), or when it is placed between two vowels: pero (but), Corea (Korea).

The digraph rr:  The digraph rr is used to force a strongly trilled r betwee in two vowels, e.g: Perro (dog), Correa (leash)

The letter ñ  The letter ñ represents a nasal palatal phoneme, which is a sound that does not exist in English: Años (years) / Niño ( boy)

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