Spanish Phonetic

Spanish Phonetic


I am just learning spanish and for me the best way to remember pronunciation is to see the word in PHONETIC form. However, I have been looking high and low, off and on for over a month and I can not find a resource (web based, hand held portable device or anything in print) that can be used as a easy reference guide for the phonetic pronunciation of spanish words. I've even contacted the IPA association. Any help out there'

updated FEB 22, 2008
posted by muneco

4 Answers


THe reply you got is pretty accurate. One writes Spanish the way it is pronounced.
One small correction though.
In Spanish words are emphasized (or have an accent) according to a set of funny rules.
If the word has an emphasis on the last syllable it has a tilde if it ends in n, s or a vowel. (these words are called agudas which would translate to something like acute.)
Conversely if the word has an emphasis on the last but one syllable it has a tilde only if it doesn't finish in n, s or a vowel. (these words are called graves which would translate to something like grave.)
Words with an emphasius on previous syllables must always have a tilde. (these words are called esdrújulas - no translation to my knowledge)

so you have hable (speak) and hablé (I spoke) as differently pronounced words.
Hable has the emphasis on the a and hablé on the e.

pared (wall) has the emphasis on the e, and lápiz (pencil) has it on a.

words like esdrújula (words with an emphasis on a syllable before the last two), brújula (compass) have a tilde to show the emphasis.

As to how to pronounce the letters any pronounciation guide will help you but a summary is:
all consonants as in English except for
1. h (silent except in ch where it's like in chair) - hola sounds like ola
2. c before i and e is like an s (as in mess not rose) and before a,o and u like k. celar sounds like selar, but cola is like kola
3. g before i and e is like a harsh H (as used in dutch) and before a,o and u like g in go.
general is Heneral but gol is gol
4. j like a harsh h (as used in dutch) jefe is Hefe
5. ñ is like the frencg gn, eg in champagne. or like an n with a short i following. so ñato is niato
6. q is always followed by u and the qu group is like a k. quiso is kiso
7. rr is rolled as a scot would. and r at the beginning of a word is also rolled. so para and parra are different words pronounced diffenrently. There is never RR at the beginning of a word.
8. w is not a Spanish letter
9 ll is pronounced as na l followed by a short i. So lleno is lieno
10 vowels are always simple
a as in bat
e as in bet
i as a double ee in beet
o as in bot
u as double oo in boot

Good luck

updated FEB 22, 2008
posted by RicardoN

oddcast.com will speak whatever you enter & you can choose a dialect .

wordreference.com with also pronounce words but not all

updated FEB 11, 2008
posted by motley

I can highly recommend "Easy Spanish Phrase Book" "Over 770 Basic Phrases for Everyday Use".
The cost, if I may say, is cheap $1.50 USD, available on-line. I carry it with me while I walk my dog. It has three rows for each phrase, English, Spanish and phonetic Spanish.

updated FEB 9, 2008
posted by Zoltán

I think that there are no such things as the phonetic forms of Spanish words, becuase once you know how each of the letters' sounds, that's the way they sound in absolutely every word that they're used it, without exception. The rule as far as pronunciation of each word, I believe, is that the emphasis is always placed on the first syllable in the word. In words where that's not the case, then there's an accent over where the emphasis should be. That's the brilliance of the language, though, that all the stuff always sounds the same, and the phonetic spelling of the word would look just like the regular spelling. Hope that helped!

updated FEB 9, 2008
posted by jen3
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