The 27 Letters of the Spanish Alphabet

The fastest way to learn the Spanish alphabet is to know what each letter actually sounds like and more than anything, what each letter sounds like to an English-speakers. For instance the letter ‘i’ in Spanish sounds exactly like the letter ‘e’ in English, a simple fact that can help anyone remember how to say ‘i’ in Spanish. By using this kind of comparative English/Spanish approach we’ve had great success in our Fluenz language learning programs.

The ‘abecedario’ or Spanish alphabet includes all the 26 letter of the English alphabet, plus the ‘ñ’, a letter that plays a key role in the pronunciation of lots of Spanish words.

spanish alphabet

The majority of the letters in Spanish have their own special names and people use them all the time when spelling out words. Below you’ll find all 27 letters of the ‘abecedario’ and their names, along with an example word for each and the pronunciation using English sounds.

LetterSpanish Name(s)Pronunciation and example
aaSound: ‘AH’ as in ‘MarthA’
‘amarillo’ = yellow
ah-mah-REE-joh
*the syllables in caps are pronounced with emphasis.
bbeOther names: be larga or be alta
Sound: ‘B’ as in ‘Boyfriend’
‘biblioteca’ = library
bee-bleeoh-TEH-kah
cceSound: ‘K’ as in ‘Kilometer’
‘cara’ = face
KAH-rah

Or ‘S’ as in ‘MoScow’
(before ‘e’ or ‘i’):
‘cine’ = movie theater
‘SEE-neh’
ddeSame as in English:
‘decidir’ = to decide
deh-see-DEER
eeSound: ‘EH’ as in ‘Elephant’
‘enero’ = January
eh-NEH-roh
fefeSound: ‘F’ as in ‘Fall’
‘falda’ = skirt
FAHL-Dah
ggeSound: ‘G’ as in ‘Gondola’
‘gato’ = cat
GAH-toh
Or an ‘H’ as in ‘Hawk’, before ‘i’ and ‘e’
‘Gigante’ = giant
hee-GAHN-teh
hhacheThis is a silent letter!
‘hacer’ = to do / make
ah-sEHr
It is only pronunciated when placed after a ‘c’. It is the same sound in English: ‘charming’
‘chícharo’ = pea
CHEE-chah-roh
ii or i latinaSound: ‘EE’ as in ‘sEE’
‘iniciar’ = to begin
EE-NEE-SEE-Ar
jjotaThe most approximate sound in English is the ‘H’ in words such as ‘Holy’:
‘jugar’ = to play
HOO-GAHr
kkaSound: it is the same as the ‘K’ in ‘Kilometer’
‘kilo’ = kilo
KEE-loh
leleSame as in English:
‘labio’ = lip
Lah-BEEOH
memeSame as in English:
‘mamá’ = mom
mah-MAH
neneSame as in English:
‘nada’ = nothing
NAH-dah
ñeñeSound: very similar to the ‘gn’ in ‘lasaGNa’ or ‘ny’ in ‘KeNYa’
‘mañana’ = tomorrow
mah-GNAH-nah
ooSound: ‘OH’ as in ‘Oregon’
‘oso’ = bear
OH-soh
ppeSame as in English:
papá = dad
pah-PAH
qcuSound: same as the English sounds for ‘q’ and ‘k’
quiosco = kiosk
keeohs-KOH
rerreSound: a single ‘r’ is different from a double ‘r’. The first one sounds very similar to the ‘d’ in ‘Adam’ or the ‘t’ in ‘atom’
‘María’
Mah-dEE-ah

A double ‘r’ however is a vibrant sound, a rolling ‘r’, as when you are imitating a motorcycle: vrrroooom! There isn’t a similar sound in English and you have to train your muscles to get it right.

‘cerro’ = hill
SEH-rroh
seseSame as in English:
‘sal’ = salt
SAHL
tteSound: ‘T’ as in ‘Tea’
‘motocicleta’ = motorcycle
moh-toh-see-KLEH-tah
uuSound: ‘oo’ as in ‘goose’
‘uva’ = grape
OO-bah
vuve or ve corta or ve chica or ve bajaMost of Latin American countries do not differentiate ‘b’ from ‘v’ in terms of pronunciation. Both sound like the ‘b’ in ‘baseball’:
‘vivir’ = to live
bee-BEER
wuve doble or doble uve or doble ve or doble uSame as in English:
‘wifi’ = Wi-Fi
xequisSame as in English, in words such as ‘exchange’
‘oxígeno’ = oxygen
oh-XEE-heh-noh
yye or i griegaSound: ‘J’ as in ‘Junior’
‘yo’ = I
JO
zzetaMost of Latin American countries do not differentiate ‘z’ from ‘s’ in terms of pronunciation. Both sound like the ‘s’ in ‘muscle’:
‘zapato’ = shoe
sah-PAH-toh

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