SPANISH PRONUNCIATION GUIDE
Spanish speaking people customarily speak distinctly and without slurring words. This is especially true of the vowels.
a - is pronounced as in the English word father.
e - has two sounds: in a syllable closed by a consonant it is pronounced as in English words set, met, get; otherwise e is pronounced as in padre.
i - is pronounced as in machine.
o - also has two sounds: (1) in an open syllable it is pronounced like the o in hello; and (2) as in torment (short o).
u - is pronounced like the oo in boot. A Spanish example is mucho—much.
y - is a vowel when it stands alone or ends a word as y, the Spanish word and, and in soy—"I am." y carries the same pronunciation as i in Spanish.
Most consonants are pronounced as in English. Below are a few of the major exceptions, such as:
b & v - are pronounced alike (except after a pause or after m or n as in embargo. In other instances b and v have the same sound as in give.
c - has the sound of k as in act. A Spanish example is casa. In Castilian, c before e and i is pronounced like th in the English word thin. In Central America c before e or i is pronounced as in the English say or sí (yes).
ch - is alphabetized and treated as a single consonant. It is pronounced as in the English word church.
d - has two distinct sounds: (1) after a pause, and after a n or l, it is pronounced similar to d in dog; (2) between vowels and at the end of a word, the sound is similar to th in though as in the Spanish donde (where).
f - is similar to the English f except it is pronounced by the lips coming together (not lips and teeth).
g - has two sounds: (1) before a, o and u, and before a consonant, it is pronounced like g in go. A Spanish example is gusto (taste). (2) before e and i, it is pronounced similar to the way ch is in loch lomond.
The Spanish alpahbet has more letters than in the English one, including the ch (described above), and ll which is treated and alphabetized as a single consonant. Another letter is ñ, pronounced as ny in canyon.
q - occurs only in combination with ue or ui (que or qui) and is pronounced like the English k with the u silent. A Spanish example is queso (cheese), pronounced kayso.
r - after a pause or preceded by l, n, or s, is trilled.
rr - (alphabetized and treated like a consonant) is always strongly trilled. When one calls perro (dog) all four legged creatures are very apt to come running.
x is usually similar to the sound of x in axe , or more like the x in exaggerate.
y used as a consonant is pronounced as the English y in yet.
z - in Castilian Spanish sounds as th in thing. In Latin America z sounds as s in case.
Return to California Missions Studies