Spanish Vowels

Quick Answer

Spanish has five vowels: a, e, i, o, and u.

Spanish Vowel Pronunciation

Spanish has the same five vowels as English, but Spanish vowels are generally shorter (in duration) than their English counterparts.

Take the letter o. When you say the letter o in English, you tend to stretch it out and add a bit of of an uh sound at the end. In Spanish, o is much shorter and is pronounced with rounded lips from start to finish (sort of like the vowels you would use in English choral music).

Here are the five Spanish vowels and their pronunciations.

Spanish Vowel Sounds

Spanish VowelPronunciationExample Words
a
 
ahpapa , agua 
e
 
ehesperanza , be 
i
 
eesí , chica 
o
 
ohloco , bonito 
u
 
oogrupo , futuro 

Spanish Diphthongs

A diphthong is a sound formed by two vowels in a single syllable. In Spanish, diphthongs can be formed by combining a strong vowel (a, e, or o) and a weak vowel (i or u), or by combining two weak vowels. When a diphthong is made up a strong vowel and a weak vowel, the strong vowel is stressed a bit more than the weak vowel.

Spanish Diphthong Pronunciation

Below are examples of Spanish diphthongs and their pronunciation.

DiphthongPronunciationExamples
au
 
owaula , aunque 
ai , ay ayaire , hay 
eu
 
ehooEuropa , neutro 
ei , ey eyreina , rey 
ia
 
yahpiano , hacia 
ie
 
yehtierra , serpiente 
io
 
yoh
radio
 
iu
 
yooviuda , ciudad 
oi , oy oyboina , hoy 
ua
 
wahagua , cuadro 
ue
 
wehfuego , trueno 
ui
 
weefuimos , fuiste 
uo
 
wohcuota , individuo 

Spanish Vowel Hiatus

When a strong vowel and a weak vowel appear together and the weak vowel is accented, the vowels belong to two separate syllables. This is called a hiatus. Two strong vowels together also form a hiatus.

Hiatus Pronunciation

HiatusPronunciationExample
 
ah - EE
ps
 
 
ah - OO
Rl
 
 
oh - EE
r
 
 
eh - EE
rr
 
 
eh - OO
transnte
 
ía
 
EE - ah
día
 
íe
 
EE - eh
ríe
 
ío
 
EE - oh
río
 
úa
 
OO - ah
cacatúa
 
úe
 
OO - eh
acentúe
 
úo
 
OO - oh
continúo
 
ae
 
ah - eh
caer
 
ao
 
ah - oh
aorta
 
aa
 
ah - ah
azahar
 
ea
 
eh - ah
leal
 
eo
 
eh - oh
leo
 
ee
 
eh - eh
poseer
 
oa
 
oh - ah
cgulo
 
oe
 
oh - eh
poetisa
 
oo
 
oh - oh
alcohol
 

Remember that the h is silent in Spanish, so it does not make any sound in the words azahar and alcohol in the table above.

Take a practice quiz!

Practice what you know with our quiz tool.

Did this page answer your question?