Spanish is no different to any other language in that it has certain rules that need to be applied and adhered to with regards to pronunciation. It must be stressed from the start that Spanish is an extremely phonetic language and the use of audio commentary would enhance and improve your ability to learn and understand the sounds much more easily and a lot quicker.
Pronunciation of Spanish Vowels:
Spanish vowels have only one sound which is not as long and broad as their English counterpart. The vowel sounds are also shortened when part of a syllable or an unstressed word and when they are before a consonant.
“a” pronounced like “ah”; example: la casa (the house) [lah kah-sah]
“e” pronounced like “ay”; example: la calle (the street) [lah kah-lee’ay]
“i” pronounced like “ee”; example: el pie (the foot) [ell pee-ay]
“o” pronounced like “o”; example: el piano (the piano) [ell pee-ah-no]
“u” pronounced like “oo”; example: uno (one) [oo-no]
The pronunciation of Spanish Consonants:
In Spanish, most of the consonants are pronounced as in English with maybe some minor changes but there are two letters that are pronounced totally different and they are “z” and “j”.
“z” pronounced like “th” in “with” or “thin” for example; el pez (the fish) [ell peth]
“j” pronounced like a the “ch” in the Scottish word “loch”: el ojo (the eye) [ell o-‘Ho]
In fact, the area in Spain where I live the “j” is pretty much pronounced like an aspirated H, which can be far easier to use, other letters that differ slightly are as follows;
ch pronounced as in “chap” or “mulch”
c when used in front of the letters “e” or “i” it is pronounced like the Spanish “z”; ie like “th” in thin.
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g before “e” or “i” pronounced like the Spanish “j”, but if used before any other letter it is pronounced like the “g” in the English word “go”
gu when preceding “e” or “i” is like “g” in English “go” but when preceding “a, o or u” is pronounced “goo”
h “h” is silent in Spanish
ll is pronounced like the “ll” in million, although again in many dialects and regions the “l” sound is almost dropped altogether in father of a “yer” sound; for example the English word “million” would be pronounced “meel-yon” instead of “mee-lee-on”.
ñ is pronounced like the “ni” in the English word “onion”; for example; el niño (the boy/child) [ell neen-neeo]
qu pronounced like the English “k”
r is rolled, especially when used at the start of a word.
s always pronounced crisply as in “last” and never like a “z” as in “easy”.
y is like y in “yellow”, but if standing alone or at the end of a word it is pronounced like the Spanish “i”: (ee)
As I have mentioned there are regional variations in pronunciation, none to severe, but if you learn the Castilian pronunciation, (which is generally known as the mother tongue) it will give you a foundation that you can alter easily to whatever dialect you are speaking.
I recommended in the preceding article to this one that the easiest way to learn the Spanish language and alphabet is to use a good Spanish language software package or interactive online Spanish course, If you have been trying to understand and learn Spanish alphabet phonetics without the aid of a course or relevant audio then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage, so check out a course as soon as possible.