Are there any rules in Spanish spelling similar to those in English?

Are there any rules in Spanish spelling similar to those in English?


Are there Spanish spelling rules similar to the English ones? Ex: i before e except after c, or when sounding like a as in neighbor or weigh.

updated AGO 10, 2009
posted by ilearnspanish

2 Answers


Fortunately not!

Spanish spelling rules are about 1000 times easier than in English. From the point of view of its pronunciation, English has 12 vowels and 9 diphthongs, each one with different sounds, but only five written vowels to represent them (a, e, i, o, u), so there are countless rules and thousands of exceptions. On the other hand, Spanish has 5 spoken vowels, and 5 symbols, so you the sound and the letters follow a 1 to 1 correspondence. Those rules like "i before e except after c" make no sense in Spanish, because if you change the vowel, you change the sound altogether.

The rule in Spanish is: all letters have a very simple, strict and systematic rule that applies practically 100% of the time, so we don't get things like "child/children", where the *i* is pronounced differently after adding -*ren*. We don't get things like "ough", which can be pronounced in 10 different ways in English. A cluster of letter has always the same pronunciation, regardless of what comes before or after (although we soften some consonants in certain positions, but these changes obey a rule too anyway).

So reading is simple, but writing is not that easy, because the sound of some consonants overlap sometimes, and the h is silent, so sometimes you have to memorize the correct way to spell a letter.

updated AGO 10, 2009
edited by lazarus1907
posted by lazarus1907

With the exception of possible confusion between b/v, c/z/s, ll/y and silent "h" there is one simple rule: spell it the way it sounds. That one rule will get you through about 90% of the time.

updated AGO 9, 2009
posted by samdie
Of course you have to hear it right:-) ...not necessarily self-evident. I thought it would be easier to write down what I listen to than it has been. - Janice, AGO 9, 2009
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