If you learn Spanish the right pronounciation is key or you will have trouble being understood proberly. Luckily Spanish is pretty easy when it comes to pronounciation and reading. You pronounce every word the way you read it. There are only a few exceptions but once you have learned those rules you can already read Spanish! After each letter we will give you example words and recommend you to listen to those words online (for example on Youtube) to get the right understanding of the sounds. In the following we will explain the letters you have to learn the others are basically prounonced as they are read.
C – The “C” is a bit tricky. First of all you have two different pronounciations depending which vocals will follow the “C”. Is the “C” followed by an “A”, “O” or “U” it is pronounced like a “K”. If the “C” is followed by an “E” or “I” it is pronounced either like an “S” (like in son) or (in some parts of Spain) like a “TH” (like in think). It depends where you want to use your Spanish you might want to adapt but you will be understood no matter if you pronounce it like “S” or “TH”.
Example: carne, gracias
G – The “G” has the same like the “C” it depends on the vocals that follow on how you will have to pronounce it. If it is followed by an “E” or “I” it is pronounced like a guttural “CH” (this sound does not exist in English the only exception would be the proper pronounciation of “Loch Ness”, for German speakers it is a lot easier it is the same sound as in “Buch”). If it´s followed by an “A”, “O” or “U” it is pronounced like a “G” (like in get) à also note the “gue” and “gui” in the explanation of the “U” below
Example: gente, garganta
H – The “H” in Spanish is always silent.
J – The “J” might sound harsh to some ears. It is pronounced like a “CHR” again this sound does not exist in English the only exception would be the proper pronounciation of “Loch Ness”, for German speakers it is a lot easier it is the same sound as in “Buch”.
LL – The double L is pronounced like the “Y” in yes
Ñ – The “N” with the wiggly line on top is pronounced like “ny” in canyon
Q – This letter is always pronounced like “K” in key and is always followed by a silent “U”
R – The “R” at the beginning of a word is rolled in Spanish and might be tricky for many learners. Just practice this sound and try to roll it as good as you can. Is this letter in the middle of a word you have to quickly touch the upper palate with the tip of your tongue. It is hard to explain you are better of listening to an example.
Example: real, querer
U – The “U” is pronounced like “OO” in food. The “U” is silent when it comes after a “G” and is followed by an “E” or “I” (gue, gui) (but in this case the “G” is pronounced like a “G”). There are Spanish words where the “U” is pronounced after the “G” in order to make it notable those words are written with a “Ü”.
Example: urgente, guitarra, pingüino
V – In some Spanish dialects the “V” is pronounved like a “B” but it´s up to you if you want to pronounce the “V” like a “B” or “V” either way you will be understood
W – The “W” doesn´t really exists in Spanish only for loanwords so the pronounciation will differ.
X – The “X” is pronounced as in English “KS”. There are some exception for example “México” is pronounced “Mejico” (with the Spanish “J”)
Example: extranjero, México
Y – The “Y” is pronounced differently depending where it is. If it is at the end of a syllable, it is pronounced like the English “Y” in say. If it stands at the beginning of a syllable, it is pronounced like “Y” mixed together with various amounts of “D”.
Example: y, estoy, ayudar
á, é, í, ó, ú – If you see the accent over a vocal it means you have to stress this vocal in your pronounciation