Spanish pronunciation isn’t hard, as many sounds are similar to sounds used in English. There are some easy rules to follow and once you learn them it is likely you’ll be understood. The relationship between Spanish sounds and their spelling is straightforward and consistent. Like most languages, pronunciation can vary according to region. Our lessons focus on most common Spanish dialect and it is the Castilian Spanish.
There is stress in Spanish, which means you emphasise one syllable over another.
Rule of thumb: when a written word ends in n, s or a vowel the stress falls on the second – last syllable. Otherwise, the final syllable is stressed.
If you see an accent mark over syllable, it cancels out these rules and you just stress that syllable instead.
There are some key things to remember about consonants in Spanish writing:
- The letter ‘C‘ is pronounced with a lisp, bar-the-lo-na (Barcelona), except when it comes before A, O and U or a consonant, when it’s hard like K in ‘king’.
- When ending a word, the letter ‘D‘ is also soft, like a TH, or it’s so slight it doesn’t get pronounced at all.
- The Spanish letter ‘J‘ stands for a harsh and guttural sound, so we use a KH symbol in our phonetic guides.
- Try to roll your double R’s.
- The letter ‘Q‘ is pronounced hard like a K.
- The letter ‘V‘ sounds more like a B, said with the lips pressed together.
- There are a few letters, which don’t appear in the English alphabet: CH, LL and the ñ. You’ll see these have their own entries in the Spanish-English dictionary.