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El Abecedario

Or perhaps it's better said if I call it the alphabet. The Spanish alphabet contains 29 letters and the letter k. The letter k is not part of the normal spanish alphabet, but is retained because there are enough foreign words to require the k to be present in the alphabet. Below is a chart showing the letter, its name, and its pronunciaion of the letter's namer. Most of the time the letters name will have the letter in it, so you will also learn that letter's pronunciation. In rare cases where it is not, (i.e. x an y) there will be help.

Letter Name Pronunciation
a a ah
b be
b de burro1
c ce say
ch che chay
d de day
e e ay
f efe ef - fay
g ge hey2
h hache (silent)3
i i long e
j jota hoe - tah 4
k ka (same as english)
l ele el - ay
ll elle ay-yay5
m eme em - ay
n ene en - ay
ņ eņe en-yay
o o oh
p pe peh
q cu coo
r ere air - ray
rr erre airrr-rrray6
s ese es-say
t te teh
u u oo
as in balloon
v ve bay
ve de vacas1
w doble ve do-bleh bay
x equis ek - wis7
y i griega ih gree-ay-gah
z zeta say - tah8

Explanation Of Subcripts
  1. the sound of (bay) is prounced with the letter "b" and the letter "v." When spelling, the b is represented by "b de burro" because burro starts with "b." The v is represented by "v de vacas" because vacas (cow) begins with v. Both sound like "bay de ....."
  2. the letter g is ge (hey), ge is prounounced like an English "h" with a small amount of sounding like you are coughing something up. Say an h while you're clearing your throat and you'll get an idea of what it's supposed to sound like. The only time g sounds like an English g is when it is folled by the letter u (e.g. guernica - "war" [ prounounced gair - nic - ah])
  3. the letter "h" (hache) is never pronounced in Spanish. It remains silent. Don't even try to prounounce it.
  4. j (jota) is prounounced similarly to g, only now make it sound like you're trying to clear your throat while saying "hoe"
  5. elle, ll make a y sound. When you see two l's together, remember that they make a "y" sound. Just like a y en ingles, a "ya" sound.
  6. the rr (erre) makes a stronger rolling-of-the-tonge sound. R's are rolled in Spanish, and the rr (erre) in Spanish is rolled a lot more than r (ere)
  7. the x (equis) makes a "hee" sound
  8. in Mexico, the z (zeta) makes an "s" sound. (i. e. zapatos (shoes) [pronounced "sa - paht - ohes"]) however in Spain, the z makes a "th" sound. (i.e. zapatos (shoes) [prounounced "tha - paht - ohes"])

This should help you a bit with the proununcation of some words. If you have any questions about the alphabet or its pronuncation, please mail me at about it.


© 1997 Joseph Holder