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Houghton MifflinSpanish Pronunciation Guide
  • 1 = Spanish letter;
  • 2 = Spanish examples;
  • 3 = English word with similar sound;
  • 4 = description.
1 2 3 4
a año, pata father
b boca, embargo bib Initial in the word or with m, similar to English b
labio, tabla Between vowels or before l or r, more like the v in lever
c cedro, civil cedar c before e or i: in most of Spain, similar to the th in thick; in southern Spain and Latin America, similar to the English s
cable, cobre cat The hard c in Spanish is not aspirated as it is in English
ch* chiste, muchacho church *No longer alphabetized as a separate letter
d dar, falda deed Initial in the word or after n or l, similar to English d, but not aspirated
lodo, padre In all other positions, similar to the th in rather
e denso, espada pet When the syllable ends in a consonant, similar to the e in pet
me, pero café When the syllable ends in a vowel, similar to the e in café
f fuerte, sofá fat
g general, gitano Before e or i, similar to the strongly aspirated h in ha!
gato, grupo The hard g is not aspirated as it is in English
h honor, ahora Is always silent
i silla, grito machine
j jugo, pájaro Similar to the strongly aspirated h in ha!
k kilo, kimono kick Not aspirated as it is in English
l listo, oler lid
ll* llamar, olla In most of Spain, similar to the lli in million; in southern Spain and most of Spanish America, similar to the j in jar; in Argentina and Uruguay, similar to the s in vision; *no longer alphabetized as a separate letter
m masa, amargo mum
n sin, nota, tono no
rencor, fango Before hard c or g, sounds like the ng of thing
ñ riña Sounds like the ny in canyon
o sordo, toldo cord When the syllable ends in a consonant, sounds like the o in cord
lodo, ocupar note When the syllable ends in a vowel, sounds like the o in note
p parte, capa pot Not aspirated as it is in English
q quinto, níquel pique Pronounced like an unaspirated k
r raya, enredo Initial in the word or after l, n, or s, it is strongly trilled
caro, contar Elsewhere, pronounced with a flap of the tongue like the dd in ladder
rr* carro Is strongly trilled; *not alphabetized as a separate letter
s cosa, sino salty
t tonto, matar tight Not aspirated as it is in English
u luto, útil rude
quince, guerra Silent when preceded by q or in gui and gue, unless marked by dieresis
agüero, güiro When marked by dieresis, sounds like the u in Guinevere
v vino, vista Initial in the word, sounds like the b in bib
lavar, salvo In all other positions it is softer, more like the v in level
w wat, water Pronounced like either the English v or w
x éxito, exacto Pronounced like either the x of exit or the gs of eggs
mixta, experto Sometimes softened to the sound of an s
México In the words México and mexicano, sounds like the aspirated h in ha!
y yeso, suyo young Initial in the word or between vowels, is like the y in young; in Argentina and Uruguay sounds like the s in vision between vowels
y, carey As a word, or final in the word, is like the i in machine
z zona, trazar In most of Spain, is like the th in thick; in southern Spain and Latin America, is like the English s
Diphthongs
ai, ay baile, vaya Like the i in wide
au causa Like the ou in round
ei, ey peinar, rey Like the ey in they
eu deuda Like the combined vowel sounds of hey, you!
ia, ya estudiar, haya Like the ya in yarn
ie, ye sierra, yermo Like the ye in yes
io, yo porción, yodo Like the yo in yoke
iu, yu viudo, yugo Like the yu in yule
oi, oy oigo, voy Like the oi in voice
ua cuanto Like the wa in wand
ue cuento Like the we in went
ui cuidar Like the wee in weed
uo cuota Like the uo in quote
Triphthongs
iai estudiáis Like the yi in yipes
iau miau Like the eow in meow
iei confiéis Like yea
uai, uay continuáis, Uruguay Like the wi in wire
uau guau Like wow
uei, uey continuéis, buey Like the wei in weight


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