How to pronounce the Spanish alphabet
Every good introduction to language starts with the alphabet. As simple as this concept sounds, it is the key to starting to read, and thus gaining proficiency, in the language. Learning the alphabet will not only aid in the understanding of Spanish, but also the understanding of Romance languages (e.g. French, Spanish, Italian) in general because the vowel sounds across these languages are the same.
How do you pronounce the vowels in Spanish? How do you pronounce the consonants in Spanish?
The vowels are the same as they are in English: a, e, i, o, and u. However, there are no short or long sounds as there are in English. This means the sounds are always the same, unless there is a diphthong, “A” is pronounced “ah,” as in the exclamation “Aha!” “E” is ‘eh” as in the English word ‘egg.” “I” makes the “ee” sound, like “screen.” “O” makes the “oh” sound as in “coat.” Finally, “U” makes the “oo’ sound like “school.”
Now for the good news. The letters f,k,l,m,m,p,r,s,t,w,x and y are all pronounced similarly to their English counterparts.
The letters “b” and “v” (both pronounced “bay” are pronounced softer than their English counterparts (i.e. not as much emphasis on their sound). The letter “d” (“day”) is spoken much the same way. The letters “c” and “g” (“say” and “hey” respectively) follow similar rules as their English counterparts. When in front of an a, o, or u, these letters are hard and are pronounced as “kuh”and “guh.” When in front of an “e” or “i.” these letters make an “s” and “h” sound respectively. The “j” (“hotah”) always makes an “h” sound, while the “h” (achay) is a silent letter. Like the hard “C,”the “Q” is pronounced like a “k” and is often paired with a silent “u.” Example: “quiero” (kyer-oh). Finally, the “z” (zeta) is pronounced like an “s.”
That brings me to four special letters: Ch (chay), ll (eyay), ñ (enyay), and rr (erre).
“Ch” is pronounced as in the English word “chocolate.” Like “y,” “ll” is traditionally pronounced as “yuh.” The closest analogue to “ñ” that we have is the “ny” sound in the interjection “nyah!” Finally, “rr” is pronounced with a trill that happens by curving the tongue back and letting air pass through it.