Pronunciation (Part 2)


In this topic we will we will we will look more at improving our Spanish pronunciation.

In our previous topic we started looking at Spanish Pronunciation. We learned that on the whole Spanish pronunciation is very straightforward with most of the letters of the alphabet retaining one distinct sound in whichever words they are found. Alas, as is usually the case, there are exceptions to the rule and we will now delve a bit deeper and learn more Rules with Spanish Pronunciation to make sure you are confident with some of the letters which have more than one sound.

Spanish letter C

The Spanish letter C can be pronounced in two different ways. When it comes before the vowels “A”, “O” and “U” it has a similar sound to the English “K” or hard “C”.

Have a go:

Casa: house
Cuatro: four
Color: colour
Coliflor: cauliflower
Cara: face

If the “C” comes before an “E” or an “I” its pronunciation is slightly different depending on whether the speaker is Spanish or Latin American. In most of Latin America, the “C” has an English “S” sound when it comes before an “E” or an “I”. In most of Spain, the “C” before an “E” or an “I” is pronounced like the soft English “TH” in “through” or “think.” Contrary to common belief, this is not a lisp.

Have a go:

Cerilla: match
Once: eleven
Diciembre: December
Marcela: female name “Marcela”
Gracias: thank you

It should also be noted that according to the rules of the Spanish pronunciation the “CH” is considered a separate letter with its own distinct sound.

Spanish letter G

The Spanish letter G has various different pronunciations depending on its location in a word. When you combine a “G” with a consonant or when the “G” is located in front of an “A”, “O” or “U”, it sounds like an English “G” such as that found in words like “game”.

Have a go:

Gato: cat
Gusano: worm
Gota: drop
Ganso: goose
Grano: grain

The “G” sound changes when it is located in front of an “E” or an “I” and sounds more like the Spanish “J”, or the English “H”.

Have a go:

Generoso: generous
General: general
Gitano: gypsy
Agitar: to shake
Girar: to turn

When the “G” is located in front of an “UE” or “UI” its sound is like an English “G” again. In these instances the pronunciation of the “U” is silent.

Have a go:

Guitarra: guitar
Guerra: war
Manguera: hose
Águila: eagle
Hamburguesa: burger

Spanish letter R

The Spanish letter R has two distinct pronunciations, one hard and one soft. The single, soft, Spanish “R” sounds much like the English “D” or the English “TT” heard in English words such as “little”. It is formed by hitting the tongue, with a single tap, against the front ridge at the top of the mouth.

Have a go:

Cuchara: spoon
Caro: expensive
Trabajo: work
Triste: sad
Escribir: to write

The hard Spanish pronunciation rule, rolling Spanish “R” is heard when the “R” is doubled and with a single “R” that is located at the beginning of a word or after an “L”, “N” or “S”. It is a trilled sound formed by flapping the tongue against the front roof of the mouth. It might help you to think of the purring of a cat, a helicopter or the revving of a car motor. Try loosely holding the tip of your tongue to the front roof of your mouth and then blow air through, with a relaxed tongue.

Have a go:

Cerrar: to close
Perro: dog
Parrilla: grill
Torre: tower
Carro: car / cart


Play the audio below and practice your pronunciation by repeating with Laura.


ca, co, cu = English ‘k’ sound (e.g. casa)
ce, ci = English ‘th’ sound (e.g. cesta)

ga, go, gu = English ‘g’ sound (as in ‘goat’) (e.g. goma)
ge, gi = Spanish ‘J’ sound (e.g. general)
gue, gui = English ‘g’ sound (as in ‘goat’) (e.g. guitarra)

Single R in the middle of a word = Roll it for a short time (e.g. loro)
Single R at the beginning of a word or in the middle after a consonant = Roll it for longer: (e.g. Enrique, Roberto)
Double RR = Always roll it for longer: (e.g. carro)


Play the audio below and try to follow the conversation. Please listen at least twice before checking the transcript.


Teacher: Vamos a practicar la letra ‘eñe’. Repite: España
Student: España
Teacher: Muy bien. Ahora repite: Niño
Student: Ñiño
Teacher: No, no Niño. Primero N y luego Ñ. Niño.
Student: Ah sí. Niño.
Teacher: Muy bien. ¿Conoces más palabras con la letra eñe?
Student: Mmmmm Mañaña.
Teacher: Vale, pero se dice Mañana. Primero Ñ y luego N
Student: Vale, Mañana.
Teacher: Perfecto. ¿Alguna palabra más?
Student: Ehhh ¡Ah sí! Pequeño.
Teacher: Muy bien. Pequeño. ¿Alguna más?
Student: Sí, año.
Teacher: Perfecto, muy bien. Año.


Open the text below and try to follow what is written. Please read at least twice before checking the translation.

Manuel: Me encanta tu acento. Es muy bonito. ¿De dónde eres?
Lise: Muchas gracias. Soy de Francia. Llevo aquí cinco años.
Manuel: Pero hablas perfectamente. Parece que has estado aquí muchos más años que cinco. ¡Hablas como una española con un acento interesante!
Lise: Eres muy amable.
Manuel: ¿Cuál es tu secreto? ¿Cómo has aprendido español tan bien en tan poco tiempo?
Lise: No lo sé, si te digo la verdad. Veo mucha televisión y siempre veo programas en castellano sin subtítulos. También tengo muchos amigos españoles con los que hablo frecuentemente.
Manuel: Yo llevo casi diez años estudiando inglés y hablo mucho peor.
Lise: ¿Hablas otros idiomas también o es el inglés tu primer intento de aprender un idioma extranjero?
Manuel: Sí, nunca he intentado aprender otro idioma, solo el inglés.
Lise: Yo también sé hablar alemán y holandés bastante bien y he aprendido un poco de chino.
Manuel: Bueno, tú eres una experta entonces. ¿Es más fácil aprender un idioma después de aprender uno ya?
Lise: Claro que sí. He aprendido el español mucho más rápido que el alemán porque sé como aprender un idioma. Sé como recordar gramática y vocabulario y sé como tienes que practicar.
Manuel: Sí, supongo. ¿Y cómo pronuncias tan bien?
Lise: Intento imitar a la gente. Me fijo mucho en cómo habla la gente española e intento copiar. No debes estar avergonzado y creo que es una buena idea exagerar el acento cuando hablas.
Manuel: La verdad es que me siento ridículo cuando hablo inglés.
Lise: Hay que hablar con seguridad y orgullo.
Manuel: Bueno. Gracias. Lo voy a intentar.
Manuel: I love your accent. It is very pretty. Where are you from?
Lise: Thank you very much. I am from France. I’ve been here for five years.
Manuel: But you speak perfectly. It seems like you’ve been here many more years than five. You speak like a Spanish woman with an interesting accent!
Lise: You are very kind.
Manuel: What is your secret? How have you learned Spanish so well in such a short time?
Lise: I don’t know, to tell you the truth. I watch a lot of television and I always watch programs in Spanish without subtitles. I also have many Spanish friends with whom I speak frequently.
Manuel: I have been studying English for almost ten years and I speak much worse.
Lise: Do you speak other languages also or is English your first attempt to learn a foreign language?
Manuel: Yes, I’ve never tried to learn another language, only English.
Lise: I also know how to speak German and Dutch quite well and I have learned a bit of Chinese.
Manuel: Well, you are an expert then. Is it easier to learn a language after learning one already?
Lise: Yes, of course. I have learned Spanish much faster than German because I know how to learn a language. I know how to remember grammar and vocabulary and I know how you have to practice.
Manuel: Yes, I suppose. And how do you pronounce so well?
Lise: I try to imitate people. I focus on how Spanish people talk and try to copy. You must not be embarrassed and I think it’s a good idea to exaggerate the accent when you speak.
Manuel: The truth is that I feel ridiculous when I speak English.
Lise: You have to speak with confidence and pride.
Manuel: OK. Thank you. I’ll try.


Open the questions below and answer them in writing using the box provided. Check the answers afterwards to see how you got on.

Please write a little in Spanish about your thoughts regarding other languages. Do you speak any other languages? Do you want to learn any other languages? Are there any languages that you like how they sound? Do you like the sound of Spanish? Are there any languages that you don’t like how they sound?

Possible answer:

Hablo inglés y estoy aprendiendo español. Quiero hablar español muy bien. También quiero aprender chino en el futuro. Me encanta cómo suena el español. Me gusta el sonido del idioma español en las canciones. A veces suena muy rápido pero suena bonito. Algunos idiomas no son tan fluidos como otros. El alemán suena bastante duro. El chino también. Me encanta el sonido del francés.


Play the audio below and respond to the questions Laura asks you. Check the answers afterwards to see how you got on.


1. Cuando voy a mi casa siempre me encuentro con Concha
2. Pedro es el hombre que vive en la calle Ramiro Rodriguez
3. El general Jiménez juega al ajedrez con Juana
4. Hoy voy a cocinar guisantes con jamón
5. Mi amigo Camilo corre 30 minutos todas las mañanas
6. Javier y Jorge son dos hermanos que trabajan en Barcelona
7. Rafael Ramírez siempre hace sus compras por Internet
8. Me gusta viajar, cocinar y relajarme leyendo un libro o nadando en el mar