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Spanish Pronunciation: How to Sound More Like a Native

It's been a few months since you started learning Spanish, but you still can't get your Spanish pronunciation right. You're still mispronouncing jalapeño as hah-lah-pee-no (should be pronounced as hah-lah-pay-nyo). No worries, we have got you covered.

As one of the most phonetic languages in the world, Spanish is an easy and straightforward language to pronounce. If you can spell a Spanish word, you can usually pronounce it. Often, a word is not said as how it looks in English. I mean, who decided that colonel is pronounced as "kernel" and not call-o-nell?

Even though Spanish is a very phonetic language, there are some tips and tricks to make you sound more like a native.

Learn the Basics of Spanish Pronunciation

The Vowels: they each are associated with one sound, unlike English, a vowel can have different pronunciations depends on its placement.

  • a: like the a in far
  • e: like the e in bed
  • i: like the ee in see
  • o: like the o in more
  • u: like the oo in too

The Consonants: most consonants sound the same in both Spanish and English, but there are some exceptions.

Consonant Pronunciation Consonant Pronunciation
b&v When followed by a consonant, it sounds like b. Otherwise, the sound falls between the English b and v. r It sounds very similar to d in udder.
d When d is placed between 2 vowels, it sounds like th in that or the. rr It's strongly trilled
h It's ALWAYS silent in Spanish. q It's pronounced as k in keep. The u after q is always silent.
j It's pronounced like h in hot. z It's pronounced as an s in English.
ñ It sounds like ny in canyon or onion. g Before a, o, u, it's pronounced like g in grape.
When it's placed before **e** or **i**, it's pronounced like h in hi.

The Spanish Pronunciation Errors You Might Be Making

1. Accent Marks
When we are texting, we often rely on auto-correct or just get too lazy to make sure the accent marks are placed correctly. Yes, your friends might still be able to understand you without those accent marks.

But misplacing or forgetting an accent is not appropriate in a formal setting or when you're speaking the language. Why? Because the meaning of a sentence can change when an accent is placed differently. For example, mas and más have two very different meanings. You don't want to say more when you mean to say but.

2. R/RR
One of the most important elements in Spanish pronunciation - rolling your rr's! If you can't roll your rr's, you'll agree with me when I say, it feels like mission impossible. Trust me, nothing is impossible. Many Spanish learners start off not being able to roll their rr's but manage to train their tongues and mouth muscles to do it later on. So you can do it too.

A single r sound almost like the tter in butter and tta in gotta or lotta.

There're many articles and videos online teaching you how to mater the rr's, so just google how to roll your rr's and find one that speaks to you. I, personally, find this video from Joy of Languages useful.

3. G/J/Gua
When Spanish letter g precedes u, a, or a consonant, it sounds similar to the g in grape. However, the Spanish g sounds a bit softer. A mistake Spanish learners usually make is pronouncing the g sound too hard.

Before we continue with the letter g and its other pronunciations, let's look at the other Spanish pronunciation mistake Spanish learners often make- the Spanish letter j. In Spanish, j is pronounced like the h in the English word "house". Use jalapeño as a reminder when you think of the letter j.

But, when g precedes i or e, it's pronounced like the Spanish letter j. For example, gente is pronounced as HEN-teh. Last pronunciation of letter g is when it pairs up with u - gu. The pair has its own rules - when it precedes i, e, or o, the g sound is hard. For example, antiguo.

4. D

Have you ever heard of Homer Simpson's famous catchline? If you haven't, make sure you watch the video above. Because that's what you should not sound like when you pronounce Spanish letter d. Try pronouncing d softer like how you'd pronounce the d in didn't. When d is placed at the end of a word, you'll find Spanish speakers pronounce it so softly that it feels like d doesn't exist.

How Does Glossika Help with Your Spanish Pronunciation?

By using Glossika as your language training resource, you will be able to mimic the way a child acquires a language while getting optimal results by immersing yourself in your target language on a daily basis.

Mastering Spanish pronunciation can be challenging. However, the more you listen and speak, the better and the more fluent you'll be. Our spaced repetition training gets your muscles familiar with speaking your target language. And learn to perfect your Spanish pronunciation with Glossika's courses recorded by native speakers.

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Spanish Pronunciation: How to Sound More Like a Native
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