The Spanish Alphabet

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The First Step towards Mastering Spanish

Are you about to start learning Spanish, or have you missed out on properly learning the Spanish alphabet? Then you’ve come to right place!

The Spanish letters and their pronunciation are the basis of the whole Spanish language and it is essential to know them in order to become fluent in Spanish.

This topic is part of our free COMBI Course for beginners, which is based on our “24 Level System to Spanish Fluency®”. You are currently at level 1 (A1.1), studying the Spanish Alphabet!

General Information

The Spanish alphabet is called “abecedario” or “alfabeto”. It consists of 27 letters (22 consonants and 5 vowels). We need to learn it, as it is the basis of the whole language and it will help you when it comes to understand its speakers and with your pronunciation. As you may have noticed, that’s one more letter than in the English alphabet! The Spanish alphabet has an additional letter: ñ.

We will show you how to pronounce each of these letters, which also depends on the position they have in a word, give you examples of their use and make you practice their pronunciation. Let’s get started!

Read the table below, you will find the letters in the abecedario, along with their Spanish name(s):

A
(a)

B
(be)

C
(ce)

D
(de)

E
(e)

F
(efe)

G
(ge)

H
(hache)

I
(i)

J
(jota)

K
(ka)

L
(ele)

M
(eme)

N
(ene)

Ñ
(eñe)

O
(o)

P
(pe)

Q
(cu)

R
(erre)

S
(ese)

T
(te)

U
(u)

V
(uve)

W
(uve doble)

X
(equis)

Y
(i griega/ye)

Z
(zeta)

The name of the letters of the Spanish alphabet is always feminine, we say la eme, la hache

El Abecedario

In the following exercises, you can practice spelling:

Now try to spell your own name in Spanish. It isn’t difficult, right?

  • Sandra
  • Amanda
  • Juanjo
  • Kateryn
  • Laura
  • Daphne

💡 Keep on practicing

If you want to keep on practicing, have a look at the exercises “Entonación y deletreo” from Instituto Cervantes and “Practice spelling in Spanish” on YouTube.

How to Pronounce the Spanish letters?

Now that we know the letter names, let us focus on how to pronounce each letter alone and in combination with others. This is an essential step when learning any language in order to acquire good pronunciation habits. The Spanish language is quite easy to pronounce, as we mentioned before, the abecedario contains five vowels or vocales. They have only one sound each. 

Have a look at the following chart and read, listen and repeat the words:

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El abecedario also consists of twenty-two consonants or consonantes, many of them sound the same in Spanish as in English. Listen and repeat the words below:

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Some of these consonants are a bit tricky and they are pronounced differently, so here you have some tips to help you pronounce them.

The sound [b] and the letters Be (B) and Uve (V)

The letters B and V are pronounced the same in any position. This surprises many students, but you don’t have to worry… the sound of B and V is the same for all Spanish speakers.

Listen and repeat:

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The sounds [θ] and [k] and the letters Ce (C), Zeta (Z) and Cu (Q)

  • The letter Ce (C) has two different pronunciations. It sounds [k] (like the English K) when followed by A, O or U.

Read & listen & check:

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  • However, before E or I, it sounds differently. It is pronounced [θ] (like the TH sound in the English verb to think), or as [s] in some parts of Spain and throughout South America.

Listen to the [θ] pronunciation

And now, listen to the [s] pronunciation:

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In the following exercises, you can practice to pronounce the Ce (C):

  • Cielo
  • Corazón
  • Bosque
  • Cama
  • Química
  • Cero
  • Correr
  • Cuerpo
  • Aquí
  • Cosa
  • Cucaracha
  • Quinto

One question arises here, what about the [ki] and [ke] sounds? They do also exist in the Spanish language; however, you should bare in your mind that these sounds are not written with a C but with the letter Q followed by U (QU) and it sounds [k] (like English K).

Practice with these words, listen and repeat:

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The letter zeta (Z) is pronounced [θ] before A, O and U (or as [s] in some parts of Spain and South America).

 

Finally, the correct way to read and pronounce these letters is:

Listen to the [θ] pronunciation

And now, listen to the [s] pronunciation

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Listen

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The sound [ʧ] and the letters CH

The letter H after the letter C is not silent. This combination (CH) is not considered a letter anymore, but it is a sound. CH is basically the same as the [ʧ] in English words such as “church”.

Practice with the words below, then listen and check.

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The letter Hache (H)

This letter is silent and is never aspirated, then, we can say that hache is a letter but not a sound.

Listen and repeat

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  • Hola
  • Chaqueta
  • Hada
  • Chile
  • Habla
  • Hospital
  • Chatarra
  • Hielo
  • Chuches
  • Hombre
  • Coche
  • Pinche


The sounds [x] and [g] and the letters Ge (G) and Jota (J)

Letter Jota (J) is always pronounce like [x].

Listen

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The letter Ge (G), before the vowels E and I, coincides with the pronunciation of the letter Jota (J). They are both pronounced [x], like the H in “hat” (but harder). In the following examples you will see that Ge and Jota are different letters pronounced with the same sound (only when followed by E and I).

Listen and repeat:

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The letter Ge, followed by the rest of vowels (A, O, U), sounds [g] like the G in the word “good”.

Read the words below, then listen to check.

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This sound [g] is also possible in combination with E and I. You will find this sound whenever you see a GUE or GUI written in a Spanish word. You have to pronounce it as a single sound, see the examples.

Listen and repeat:

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And… What happens when in GUE or GUI we have to pronounce the U before E or I? Very easy! We put two dots (we call them diéresis) to the Ü and this means that you have to pronounce two sounds: GÜE – GÜI.

Listen and repeat:

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Finally, the correct way to read and pronounce these letters is:

Listen and repeat:

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In the following exercise, you can practice to pronounce the Ge (G) and Jota (J):

  • Guerrero
  • Juguete
  • Joya
  • Giro
  • Monje
  • Guapa
  • Gota
  • Jungla
  • Guitarra
  • Tijeras

The sound [y] and the letters Doble ele (LL) and Ye o i griega (Y)

The letter Ye (Y) can be a consonant or a vowel:
It is a vowel when it appears without other vowels (tú y yo) or at the end of a word (rey) and we pronounce it like the vowel [i]
It is a consonant when appears with other vowels (like in yo) and it is the same as in English “yellow” [y]
The Doble ele (LL) is the same as Ye (Y) when it is a consonant, let’s see some examples:

Listen and repeat:

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The letter Eñe (Ñ)

The Eñe (Ñ) is an N with virgulilla (~) placed over it and is used only in the Spanish language.

Listen and repeat:

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The sounds [r] and [rr] and the letters Erre (R) y Doble erre (RR)

The letter Erre (R) sounds soft between vowels, before or after consonants (other than S, L, N) and at the end of words.

Listen and repeat:

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The letter Erre (R) is pronounced strongly at the beginning of words and after the consonants S, L, N

Listen and repeat:

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The letter Doble erre (RR) is always pronounced strongly and goes between vowels.

Listen and repeat:

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To sum up, this chart gives you a printable overview of the Spanish alphabet: the letters, their names and examples for their use.

Spanish-Alphabet-Overview
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Well done! You’ve just laid the foundation for your Spanish learning journey! Now it’s time to build on it. 

The most effective way to learn Spanish online is signing up for an online Spanish course. Our online courses from Let’s Speak Spanish are a unique combination of self-learning, webinars and teacher and community support. They’re based on our “24 Level System to Spanish Fluency“ in which we divide the first four levels of the CERT (A1, A2, B1, B2) into 24 more detailed levels.

You will achieve the very first level by completing our FREE 2-week online course for beginners, which is designed for anyone who has little to no knowledge of Spanish. It offers clear and comprehensive content to help you gain a basic knowledge of the Spanish language. At the end of the course, you will be able to understand and use everyday expressions and phrases and you will be able to have fundamental conversations.

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2 thoughts on “The Spanish Alphabet”

  1. I absolutely love the way you have developed the explanation of the alphabet and sounds. Do you have anything on the pronunciation of “ll” and “ñ”?

    Thanks

    1. Thank you, Viviana, for your comment and suggestions. I’m glad you like the way we explain Spanish. We now added pronunciations for “ll” and “ñ”. I hope you like it.

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