This is the forty-third lesson in our beginner level Spanish course and we will look at Spanish Pronunciation Rules.
In general and in relation to other languages, Spanish pronunciation is easy. Spanish Pronunciation Rules are straightforward and quite regular. Once you know the sound of each letter, or group of letters, you know how to pronounce almost every Spanish word from the way it is written.
Let’s start off by looking at the Spanish Pronunciation Rules for the vowels. A, E, I, O, U are not tricky as very similar sounds exist in the English language and the Spanish vowel sounds are very distinct and reliable (unlike the English vowels which vary considerably).
Here is a simple guide on how the Spanish vowels are pronounced.
Maybe the only challenging aspect of pronouncing the Spanish vowels is not confusing E (eh) and I (eeh). The Spanish I (eeh) pronunciation sounds like the English letter E.
The sounds of the Spanish vowels can vary a little bit depending on which letters are before and after them (we will look at this in more detail later in the course), but on the whole we can say that the sounds are distinct regardless of the word they are a part of. This is great for the student!
Spanish Grammar may be more complex than English Grammar, but Spanish Pronunciation Rules are a doddle. With a bit of practice you can be reading Spanish texts out loud and sounding like a native Spanish speaker in no time at all. English words on the other hand demand familiarity with vocabulary before attempting reading out loud as English letters are pronounced differently in different words.
Most of the Spanish consonants are pronounced in a very similar way to English. There are a few, however, to watch out for.
b & v: These two consonants are pronounced the same – as B (e.g. Barcelona & Valencia)
h: The Spanish H is silent (e.g. Hola)
j: The Spanish J is pronounced like a strong English H (e.g. Jamón: Hamon)
ll: This letter is specific to Spanish and is pronounced Like an English Y (e.g. Llamo: Yamo)
ñ: This is another letter specific to the Spanish alphabet and sounds like the NI in Onion (e.g. Baño: Banio)
t: The Spanish T is not dissimilar to the English T but you need to pronounce it without releasing air from your mouth (e.g Té)
z: The Spanish Z sounds like an English TH (e.g. Zapato: Thapato)
This has been a basic introduction to Spanish Pronunciation Rules.
In our next lesson, we will continue and will delve a bit deeper with lots of useful examples.