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Learn Spanish: Rules of Pronunciation & Accents

Learn Spanish Grammar

Spanish Pronunciation
Spanish Gender and Articles
Spanish Subject Pronouns
Spanish Verb Ser
Spanish Plural Nouns and Adjectives
Calendar in Spanish
Spanish Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers
Spanish Prepositions
Telling Time in Spanish
Spanish Verb Hay
Spanish Verbs Present Tense

Spanish Verb Ir
Spanish Verb Tener

Spanish Verb Estar
Ser
vs. Estar

Spanish Possessive Adjectives
Spanish Possessive Pronouns
Spanish Stem-Changing Verbs
Spanish Prepositions Por vs. Para
Spanish Demonstratives
Spanish Direct Object Pronouns
Spanish Indirect Object Pronoun
Direct + Indirect Object Pronouns
Spanish Verb Gustar
Weather in Spanish
Spanish Reflexive Verbs (coming soon)
Spanish Verb Acabar
Spanish Verb Volver
Spanish Past Tense - Pretérito
Spanish Informal Commands
Spanish Plural Familiar Commands
Spanish Nosotros Commands (coming soon)

Spanish Past Tense - Imperfecto
Preterit vs. Imperfect
Spanish Past Participles
Spanish Present Perfect Tense
Spanish Past Perfect Tense
Spanish Formal Commands
Spanish Subjunctive Mood
Spanish Future Tense
Spanish Conditional Tense

 

 

Spanish Pronunciation

 

Learn Spanish:
How to Pronounce the Spanish alphabet - Pronunciation & Accents

Being able to properly pronounce words in Spanish is important. Simply knowing the meaning of a Spanish word will help you on a school exam but will not help you communicate with others in Spanish if they have trouble understanding what you say. Communication is a two-way process afterall!

Rules of Accentuation

If a word ends in a vowel or with n or s, then the next to last syllable is stressed.

If a word ends in a consonant other than n or s, then the stress falls on the last syllable.

If the word has an accent mark, then that syllable is stressed, and you ignore the above two rules.

Dividing syllables involving two vowels

The vowels a, e, and o are considered "strong" vowels, and i and u are considered "weak." Where two vowels fall together, the following rules affect syllable division and accentuation:

A weak + strong combination belongs to one syllable with the stress falling on the strong vowel. aceite, cierra, causa.

A weak + weak combination belongs to one syllable with the stress falling on the second vowel. viuda, fuimos, diluir

A strong + strong combination is divided into two syllables. bom-be- ar, po-le-a, em-ple- o

If the word has an accent mark, then that syllable is stressed. flúido, día, encías

Vowels

a -- like the a in father

e -- for a syllable ending in a vowel, like the e in they; for a syllable ending in a consonant, like the e in get

i -- like the i in machine

o -- for a syllable ending in a vowel, like the o in vote; for a syllable ending in a consonant, like the o in pot

u -- like the u in rule; silent after q and in the groups gue and gui

y -- When used as a vowel, such as in the words y and voy, it is pronounced like the Spanish i.

Diphthongs

ai, ay -- like the i in side

au -- like the ou in found

ei, ey -- like the ey in they

eu -- like the vowel sounds in may-you

oi, oy -- like the oy in boy

Semiconsonants

i, y -- like the y in yes. Examples: bien, hielo

u -- like with w in well. Examples: huevo, fuente, agua

Consonants

b, v -- When found at the beginning of a word or following a consonant, these are pronounced like a b. Otherwise, they have a sound which falls somewhere inbetween the English b and v sounds.

c -- before a consonant or a, o, or u, like the c in cat; before e or i like an s

ch -- like the ch in church. Historically, the Spanish ch has been treated as a separate letter although this has recently been changed. Therefore, many dictionaries list words beginning with ch after the c's and before the d's.

d -- like the English d except between vowels and following l or n where pronounced like the th in this

f -- like the f in for

g -- before e or i, like the Spanish j; otherwise like the g in get

h -- silent

j -- like an h but stronger; silent when at the end of a word

k -- like a k

l -- like an l

ll -- like the y in you

m -- like an m

n -- like an n; except where it appears before a v, like an m

ñ -- like the n in onion

p -- like a p

q -- like a k; always followed by a silent u

r -- pronounced with a strong trill at the beginning of a word and following an l, n, or s; very little trill when at the end of a word; and medium trill in other positions

rr -- strongly trilled

s -- before consonants b, d, g, l, m, n, like a z; otherwise like an s

t -- like a t

v – pronounced like the Spanish b (see above)

w -- generally like a v

x -- when between vowels, like the x in box; before a consonant, like an s

y -- like the y in yes

z -- like an s