The Spanish Alphabet
What's in a (Letter) Name?
The majority of the letters in Spanish have their own special names (some even have more than one!) 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.
The Company You Keep Matters
While the majority of the letters in Spanish are always pronounced the same way, there are a few whose pronunciation changes depending on the letters they combine with. Let's take a look at some of the tricker combinations.
Ge Before a Vowel
- When ge comes before i or e, it's pronounced like a raspy English h. Examples: gente (people), Gibraltar (Gibraltar)
- Before other vowels (a, o, u), it's pronounced like the g in English good. Examples: gol (goal), guapo (handsome), gato (cat)
Ce Before hache
- When ce comes before hache, it's pronounced like the ch in English cheese. Examples: chícharo (pea), chicharra (cicada)
- When two eles appear together, they can be pronounced like the y in English yellow, the j in English judge, or the sh in English show, depending on what country you're in. Examples: llamar (to call), valle (valley)
- When two erres appear together, they are trilled (the sound you make when you roll your tongue). A single erre at the beginning of a word is also trilled. Examples: carro (car), burro (donkey), rojo (red)
Equis Marks the Spot
The equis is usually pronounced like the ks in English socks. However, in place and person names (especially those from Mexico), it can be pronounced like a raspy English h, an s, or even the sh in English show. Check out these examples:
Let's finish up by seeing how the abecedario is used in everyday life!