Short Pronunciation Guide for Spanish Word a Day
We've used our own conventions for representing Spanish pronunciation in the Word A Day vocabulary since it is easier to understand for those who are not trained in linguistics.
Many of the sounds in Spanish are similar to those in English, so you can achieve acceptable pronunciation in a very short time. The basic points you need to know about Spanish pronunciation are:
- There are only 5 vowel sounds without any variation in the way they are pronounced
- The vowel sounds are much shorter than in English. That's why Spanish has a staccato sound
- There are a few letters that are pronounced differently than in English.
The most important sounds are the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and four letters which are different from or don't exist in English (h, j, ll, ñ). You can click on the links below to hear the sounds. The letter 'h' is not included because it is silent (not pronounced) in Spanish.
The text in parentheses after the letters and words is the way that we transcribe the pronunciation on our Spanish Word a Day page. Also, please note that both Spanish b and v are written as "b" since both letters sound the same in Spanish and are similar to English b.
The Spanish vowels
NOTE: if you use Internet Explorer as your browser, you may need to click twice on the buttons to hear the words/sounds. This is just another example of why it's better to use Firefox.
|a (ah)||e (eh)||i (ee)||o (oh)||u (oo)|
Letters j, ll and ñ
|J (like a harsh English 'H')|
|jefe (Héh-feh)||juego (Hwe-goh)|
|LL (similar to English 'Y')|
|llamo (Yáh-moh)||valle (báh-Yeh)|
|Ñ (like English 'ny')|
|enseño (ehn-séh-nyo)||piña (pée-nyah)|
Z, CE and CI are pronounced differently in Spain than in Latin America. The sound is like 'th' in Spain and like an 's' in Latin America:
|Z - CE - CI|
|Spain||caza (cáh-thah)||cinco (théen-coh)||quince (kéen-theh)|
|Latin America||caza (cáh-sah)||cinco (séen-coh)||quince (kéen-seh)|