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Spanish Alphabet

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MMLS NOTE- LEARNING:

El Alfabeto Español/ the Spanish Alphabet

If you know the alphabet in English, you can easily learn it in Spanish.
That is because the Spanish alphabet is very similar to the alphabets of most other western European languages, including English. According to the Real Academia Española, which is considered the arbiter of what's official Spanish, the following letters make up the Spanish alphabet:

a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z

The following chart shows the capital letters along with name of each letter.

|Letter |Name |Letter |Name |
|A |a |N |ene |
|B |be |Ñ |eñe |
|C |ce |O |o |
|D |de |P |pe |
|E |e |Q |cu |
|F |efe |R |ere |
|G |ge |S |ese |
|H |hache |T |te |
|I |i |U |u |
|J |jota |V |ve or uve |
|K |ka |W |Doble uve or doble be |
|L |ele |X |equis |
|M |eme |Y |ye or i griega |
| | |Z |zeta |

Note: According to the criteria of the Real Spanish Academy, the following consonants or words (CH, RR, and LL) are no longer included in the Spanish Alphabet.

Pronunciation: The Easy Consonants.

One factor that makes Spanish pronunciation fairly easy for English speakers is that many of the consonants are pronounced almost like their English equivalents. Although there are some subtle differences in a few cases, generally you can pronounce the consonants covered in this lesson as you would in English and be easily understood.

One thing to keep in mind about Spanish consonants is that they're generally softer and somewhat less distinct than their English equivalents (the most notable exceptions are the r and rr). Although their vowel sounds may be distinct, some hispanos hablantes may sound to the untrained ear like they're mumbling. Keep in mind that there are some regional variations as well, although if you follow the descriptions in these lessons you will be understood. Here are the pronunciations of the consonants with sounds most like English's:

• C, at least in most of Latin America, is pronounced like the "c" in "cereal" when it comes before an e or an i, and like the "c" in "car" when it is other positions. Examples: complacer, hacer, ácido, carro, acabar, crimen. Note: Although you will be understood if you use the Latin American pronunciation, in parts of Spain the c sounds like the "th" in "thin" when it comes before an e or i.

• CH is pronounced the same as the "ch" in "church." Examples: chico, machismo, Chile.

• F is pronounced like the "f" in "fox." Examples: eficaz, frío, frenos.

• K has basically the same sound in Spanish, although somewhat softer. It is found primarily in words of foreign origin. Examples: kilómetro, Irak.

• M is pronounced like the "m" in "mother." Examples: madre, música, embajada.

• P is pronounced like the "p" in "spot." Note that the "p" in "spot" is softer and less explosive than the "p" in "pot." Examples: papas, padre, suponer.

• Q is pronounced the same as the k. Note that the u following a q is not pronounced. Examples: quetzal, siquiatra, que.

• S is pronounced like the "s" in "simple." You do not give it the "z" sound heard in "wears" and many other English plural words, although it can be slightly voiced (like a soft "z") when it comes before an m, b, d, v, g, l, n or r. Examples: Susana, seres humanos, sencillo, fantasma.

• T is pronounced like the "t" in "stop." Note that the "t" of "stop" is softer and less explosive than the "t" of "top." Examples: todo, yate, temer. • W is pronounced like the "w" in "water." It is found primarily in words of foreign origin. Examples: kilowatt, Zimbabwe.

• Y is generally pronounced the same as in English. See the lesson on vowels for a more thorough explanation.

Pronunciation: Vowels.

English speakers generally find the pronunciation of Spanish vowels fairly easy. Close approximations of all their sounds exist in English, and, with the exception of the E and the sometimes silent U, all the vowels have basically one sound.

The main thing to keep in mind is that in Spanish the vowels' sounds are generally more distinct than they are in English. In English, any vowel can be represented by what's known as the schwa, an unstressed vowel sound such as the "a" in "about," the "ai" in "mountain," and the "u" in "pabulum." But in Spanish, such an indistinct sound isn't used. Although, as in most languages, the sounds of the vowels can vary slightly with the letters before and after them, in general the sound remains the same regardless of the word it's in.

First, the more or less invariable sounds. You can hear a these sounds and the others in this lesson by listening to the teacher.

• A is pronounced similarly to the "a" in "father" or the "o" in "loft." Examples: madre, ambos, mapa. There are some speakers who sometimes pronounce the ‘’a’’ something halfway between the "a" in "father" and the "a" in "mat," but in most areas the first sound given is standard.

• I is pronounced similarly to the "ee" in "feet" and the "e" in "me," although usually a little briefer. Examples: finca, timbre, mi.

• O is pronounced like the "oa" in "boat" or the "o" in "bone," although usually a little briefer. Example: teléfono, amo, foco.

Now, the two vowels whose sound can change:

• E is generally pronounced like the "e" in "met" when it is at the beginning or within a word. It is pronounced similarly to the Canadian "eh," kind of a shortened version of the "é" in the English "café," when it is at the end of the word. Sometimes it can be somewhere between those two sounds. It's not quite the sound of the English letter "A," which if pronounced slowly often has an "ee" sound at the end, but closer to the "e" of "met." Keep in mind that even when it's at the end of the word, in a sentence it may sound more like the "e" of met. For example, in a phrase such as de vez en cuando, each ‘’e’’ has approximately the same sound. Examples: café, compadre, embarcar, enero.

• U is generally pronounced like the "oo" in "boot" or the "u" in "tune." Do not pronounce it like the "u" in "uniform." Examples: universo, reunión, unidos. In the combinations gui and gue, as well as after q, the u is silent. Examples: guía, guerra, quizás. If the u should be pronounced between a g and i or e, an umlaut (sometimes called a dieresis) is placed over it. Examples: vergüenza, lingüista.

Diphthongs and triphthongs: As in English, two or three vowels in Spanish can blend together to form a sound. The sound is basically the sound of the two or three vowels rapidly pronounced. For example, the u when followed by an a, e, i or o ends up sounding something like the "w" in "water." Examples: cuaderno, cuerpo, cuota. The ai combination sounds something like the sound of "eye." Examples: hay, airear. The i when followed by an a, e, i or u sounds kind of like the "y" in "yellow.": hierba, bien, siete. And other combinations are possible as well: miau, Uruguay, caudillo.

The letter Y: Generally, the y is pronounced the same as it would if it were an i, as part of a diphthong. Examples: rey, soy, yacer. In some words that are derived from English and have a y at the end often retain the English pronunciation. For example, in popular songs you may hear words such as sexy and phrases such as oh baby.

Pronunciation: Difficult Consonants.

While many of the Spanish consonants have sounds that are similar to those in English, many are distinctly different. In this lesson we will study those consonants.

One thing to keep in mind about Spanish consonants is that they're generally softer and somewhat less distinct than their English equivalents (the most notable exceptions are the r and rr). Although their vowel sounds may be distinct, some hispanohablantes may sound to the untrained ear like they're mumbling. Keep in mind that there are some regional variations as well, although if you follow the descriptions in these lessons you will be understood. Be sure to listen to the streaming audio version of this lesson if you'd like to hear the example words pronounced.
Note the differences between the sounds of these consonants and their English counterparts in the following examples. Note also that these pronunciations are a guide only, as there are many subtle variations that can vary with locality.

• B and V are pronounced exactly the same. In fact, one of the few spelling problems that many Spanish speakers have is with these two letters, because they don't distinguish them at all from their sound. Generally, the b and v are pronounced like the "b" in "beach." When either of the letters is between two vowels, the sound is formed kind of like the English "v," except that the sound is made by touching the lips together instead of the upper teeth and lower lip. Examples: bebé, ambos, vencer.

• D generally is pronounced somewhat like the "d" in "diet," although often the tongue touches the bottom of the teeth instead of the top. But when “d” comes between vowels, it has a much softer sound, kind of like the "th" in "that." Examples: derecho, helado, diablo.

• G is pronounced much like the English "g" in "go," except when it precedes an i or e. In those cases, it is pronounced like the Spanish j. Examples: gordo, gritar, gigante, mágico.

• H is always silent. Examples: hermano, hacer, hogar.

• J (and the g when before an e or i) can be difficult, as its sound, that of the German ch, is absent in English except for a few foreign words where it is sometimes retained, as in the final sound of loch or the initial sound of Chanukah. The sound is sometimes described as a heavily aspirated "h," made by expelling air between the back of the tongue and the soft palate. If you can't pronounce it well, you'll be understood by using the "h" sound of "house," but it's worthwhile to work on the correct pronunciation. Examples: garaje, juego, jardín.

• L is always pronounced like the first "l" in "little," never like the second one. Examples: los, helado, pastel.

• LL is usually pronounced like the "y" in "yellow." There are some regional variations, however. In parts of Spain it has the sound of the "ll" in "million," and in parts of Argentina it has the "zh" sound of "azure." Examples: llama, calle, Hermosillo.

• N usually has the sound of the "n" in "nice." If it is followed by a b, v, f or p, it has the sound of "m" in "empathy." Examples: no, en, en vez de, andar.

• Ñ is pronounced like the "ny" in "canyon." Examples: ñoño, cañón, campaña.

• R and RR are formed by a flap of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, or a trill. See the R and RR "how to" guides for these letters.

• X varies in sound, depending on the origin of the word. It is often pronounced like the "x" in "example" or "exit," but it also may be pronounced like the s or the Spanish j. In words of Mayan origin it can even have the English "sh" sound. Examples: éxito, experiencia, México, taxi.

• Z generally sounds like the "s" in "simple." In Spain it is often pronounced like the "th" in "thin." Examples: zeta, zorro, vez.

PRACTICING:

1. Practice the Spanish alphabet; how you have noted in the Spanish alphabet there is a consonant (Ñ) which doesn’t appear in the English alphabet as well as double consonants CH, LL and RR which must be reviewed for its importance in our vocabulary.

You can make many words with those letters. Observe the examples below.

China, chino (China, Chinese)

Chalet (big house)

Chance (chance)

Chapucero-a (slapdash)

Chaqueta (jacket)

Charco (puddle)

Charla (chat)

Charlatán (chatterbox)

Llover (to rain)

Llamar (to call)

Llamarse (to be called)

Llenar (to fill out)

Llorar (to cry)

Perro (dog)

Gerra (war)

Gorra (cap)

Use the names of your family members, friends and your own name also to spell it, and then pronounce each letter many times.

Example: Nombre (name) Deletrear (spelling)

Orlando O, ere, ele, ene, de, o

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