How To Pronounce Spanish Words
It’s easy to pronounce Spanish words because Spanish words are pronounced like they are written. Plus many letters are pronounced much the same way as they are in English.
Perhaps the most difficult sound to pronounce for English speakers is the rolled r sound. But even if you can’t roll your r’s, you will still generally be understood. The odd exception may be words like pero (but) and perro (dog). If you don’t roll your r’s when you say perro, your Spanish listener may have trouble understanding you.
How to prounouce Spanish letters
Below you will find each Spanish letter and letter combinations. Beside each entry is an English word that demonstrates how to pronounce it.
c (before a,o,u) car
c (before e,i) century, city
g (before a,o,u) god
g (before e,i) hot (prounced like the English letter h, but stronger)
h (not prounced, always silent)
j hot (pronounced like the English letter h, but stronger)
ll yes (prounced like English letter y)
rr (pronouced by rolling the r)
v boy (prounced like the English letter b)
z sun (always pronounced like an s)
How to pronounce Spanish words
In Spanish, emphasize the last syllable of the word when the word ends in any consonant, except n or s. For example, lugar is pronounced luGAR.
When the word ends in n or s or a vowel, emphasize the next to last syllable. For example, menos is pronounced MENos and casa is pronounced CAsa.
Words that do not follow these general rules, use an accent mark to show which syllable is stressed. For example, árbol is pronounced ARbol.
How to improve your pronunciation of Spanish words
It’s not really important whether you speak Spanish with an English accent or not. The important thing is that you are understood. Here are two easy ways to improve your pronunciation without too much effort:
1) Listen to Latin music and watch Spanish television programs. By listening to native Spanish speakers you will gradually develop an ear for the sounds of Spanish and your accent will improve.
2) Read aloud whenever you read something in Spanish. This will help your practice and refine your Spanish pronunciation.
Listen to audio samples
Below are links to sites where you can hear the pronunciation of various Spanish letters, words and phrases:
Basic Spanish Words – Click on letters, words and phrases to play the audio files
More free audio files you can listen to
University of Iowa Phonetics – Not only are there audio files, but also flash animations and videos to show how the mouth makes each sound