The Spanish Alphabet

Quick Answer

The Spanish alphabet, or abecedario  in Spanish, is composed of 27 letters. It includes one extra letter, la letra ñ , that we don't have in English.

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.

LetterSpanish Name(s)Example Word
a
 
a
 
armadillo  (armadillo)
b
 
be  or be larga  or be alta biblioteca  (library)
c
 
ce
 
carcajada  (loud laugh)
d
 
de
 
decidir  (to decide)
e
 
e
 
elefante  (elephant)
f
 
efe
 
falsificar  (to forge)
g
 
ge
 
gigante  (giant)
h
 
hache
 
hechizo  (spell)
i
 
i  or i latina iniciar  (to begin)
j
 
jota
 
jajajear  (to laugh)
k
 
ka
 
kaki  (khaki)
l
 
ele
 
labial  (lipstick)
m
 
eme
 
mamá  (mom)
n
 
ene
 
nene  (baby)
ñ
 
eñe
 
ñoño  (weakling)
o
 
o
 
coco  (coconut)
p
 
pe
 
papá  (dad)
q
 
cu
 
quiquiriq  (cock-a-doodle-doo)
r
 
erre
 
ronronear  (to purr)
s
 
ese
 
sisear  (to hiss)
t
 
te
 
tetera  (teapot)
u
 
u
 
ulular  (to hoot)
v
 
uve  or ve corta  or ve chica  or ve baja vivir  (to live)
w
 
uve doble  or doble uve  or doble ve  or doble u wifi  (Wi-Fi)
x
 
equis
 
sexto  (sixth)
y
 
ye  or i griega yoyó  (yoyo)
z
 
zeta
 
zarzamora  (blackberry)

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 with which they combine. Let's take a look at some of the trickier combinations.

Ge Before a Vowel

When ge comes before i or e, it's pronounced like a raspy English h.

  • gente  (people)
  • Gibraltar  (Gibraltar)

Before other vowels (a, o, u), it's pronounced like the g in English good.

  • gol  (goal)
  • guapo  (handsome)
  • gato  (cat)

Ce Before hache

When ce comes before hache, it's pronounced like the ch in English cheese.

  • chícharo  (pea)
  • chicharra  (cicada)

Double ele

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.

  • llamar  (to call)
  • valle  (valley)

Double erre

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.

  • 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:

  • Like the ks in English socks: examen  (exam)
  • Like a raspy English h: xico  (Mexico)
  • Like an s: Xochimilco  (Xochimilco, a neighborhood in Mexico City)
  • Like sh in English show Xicalango  (Xicalango, a town in Mexico)

Let's finish up by seeing how the abecedario is used in everyday life!

Customer:
Buenas tardes. Vengo a recoger un paquete. 
Good afternoon. I'm here to pick up a package.
Clerk:
Muy bien. ¿Cuál es su nombre? 
Very good. What's your name?
Customer:
Me llamo Víctor Hugo. 
My name is Victor Hugo.
Clerk:
No lo encuentro. ¿Cómo se deletrea su apellido? 
I can't find it. How do you spell your last name?
Customer:
Hache-u-ge-o. 
H-u-g-o.
Clerk:
Ah, sí. Aquí está su paquete. 
Ah, yes. Here's your package.
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