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
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.
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
i, y -- like the y in yes. Examples: bien, hielo
u -- like with w in well. Examples: huevo, fuente, agua
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