How to Pronounce "B" and "V" in Spanish
B and V in Spanish
Most Spanish speakers pronounce the letters b and v the same way: much like the b in the English word book. It's important to note that the pronunciation of the letters b and v is slightly different depending on their position in a word. Native speakers of Spanish pronounce these two letters:
Like the b in the English word book if they appear:
Like the b in the English word book, but separating the lips slightly, if they appear:
Blame It on Latin
You may be wondering why Spanish needs two letters that are pronounced the same way. Well, you can blame it on Latin! Let’s get into a little bit of historical linguistics...the letters b and v did have different sounds in Latin, the language spoken by the ancient Romans that Spanish comes from. Early Spanish maintained the pronunciation difference from Latin, but lost it at some point on its linguistic journey to the Spanish spoken today. Although the written letters b and v remained in the language, speakers no longer distinguish between them in spoken Spanish. This makes it hard to predict how a Spanish word with this sound is written, but there are a few spelling tips you can follow. Read on for more!
Write a word with a b (not a v) in...
|Words containing the sound b preceded by the letter m||bomba(bomb), sombra(shadow)|
|Words containing the sound b followed by a consonant||cabra(goat), amable(kind), temblar(shake)||ovni(UFO)|
|All the imperfect tense endings of regular -ar verbs||hablábamos(we were speaking), temblaban(they were shaking)|
|All verbs ending in -bir||escribir(write), subir(go up)||hervir(boil), servir(serve), vivir(live)|
|Words beginning with the prefixes bi-(bi-), bio-(bio-), and sub-(sub-)||bisexual(bisexual), biología(biology), submarino(submarine)|
Write a word with a v (not a b) in...
|Words containing the sound b preceded by the letters b or d||obvio(obvious), adverbio(adverb)|
|Words containing the sound b preceded by ol||volver(return), polvo(dust)|
|Words beginning with ll followed by a vowel||llave(key), llevar(take), llover(rain), lluvioso(rainy)|
|Words beginning with the syllable di-||diva(diva), divino(divine), divertirse(have fun)|
|Words beginning with the prefix vice-(vice-)||vicepresidente(vice-president)|