The English equivalents given are a rough guide to pronunciation and they will enable you to understand spoken Spanish and to be understood, but you should be aware that in some cases they are not exactly the same sounds as used in English.

A  [a] as in English ‘bag’.


B  [b] as in ‘big’ at the beginning of a phrase or after n or m. Otherwise [β]. The lips are shaped as for [b] but slightly apart.


C   [k] as in ‘cat’ when before a, o, u or a consonant. [θ] as in ‘think’ before e or i in standard peninsular Spanish, but [s] in Latin America and southern Spain. ch [č] as in ‘church’.


D  [d] as in ‘dog’ at the beginning of a phrase or after n or l. Otherwise as in ‘this’. e [e] as in ‘bed’.


F  [f] as in ‘feather’.


G  [g] as in ‘game’ when before a, o or u. But before e or i, [x] as in Scottish ‘loch’.


H  always silent.


I  [i] as in ‘meet’.


J  [x] as in Scottish ‘loch’.


K  [k] as in ‘car’.


L  [l] as in ‘flat’.


Ll  [j] as in ‘yet’ (this is the most commonly heard pronunciation in standard Spanish, although strictly speaking it should be pronounced as in ‘million’).


M  [m] as in ‘mother’.


N  [n] as in number’.


O  [o] as in ‘opera’.


P  [p] as in ‘pear’.


Q  This is always followed by u and qu is pronounced [k] as in ‘corner’.


R  [r] this is a rolled ‘r’ as in Scottish pronunciation of ‘car’, i.e. with a slight flick or vibration of the tongue.


R r  this requires a more pronounced rolling of the ‘r’, or vibration of the tongue.


S  [s] as in ‘single’.


T  [t] as in ‘take’.

U  [u] as in ‘soon’.


V  This is pronounced the same as b.


W  This only occurs in borrowed words in Spanish and its pronunciation varies. The most common variations are [β], [b] and [w].


X  [ks] as in ‘extra’, but more commonly in spoken peninsular Spanish it is simplified to [s].


Y  [j] as in ‘yellow’ when on its own, but when it is used in combination with a vowel it is weakened to [i].


Z  [θ] as in ‘think’.