Spanish Vowels

Quick Answer

Spanish has five vowels: a, e, i, o, and u.

Spanish Vowel Pronunciation

Spanish has the same five vowels as English, but Spanish vowels are generally shorter (in duration) than their English counterparts.

Take the letter o. When you say the letter o in English, you tend to stretch it out and add a bit of of an uh sound at the end. In Spanish, o is much shorter and is pronounced with rounded lips from start to finish (sort of like the vowels you would use in English choral music).

Here are the five Spanish vowels and their pronunciations.

Spanish Vowel Sounds

Spanish VowelPronunciationExample Words
a
ahpapa, agua
e
ehesperanza, be
i
eesí, chica
o
ohloco, bonito
u
oogrupo, futuro

Spanish Diphthongs

A diphthong is a sound formed by two vowels in a single syllable. In Spanish, diphthongs can be formed by combining a strong vowel (a, e, or o) and a weak vowel (i or u), or by combining two weak vowels. When a diphthong is made up a strong vowel and a weak vowel, the strong vowel is stressed a bit more than the weak vowel.

Spanish Diphthong Pronunciation

Below are examples of Spanish diphthongs and their pronunciation.

DiphthongPronunciationExamples
au
owaula, aunque
ai, ayayaire, hay
eu
ehooEuropa, neutro
ei, eyeyreina, rey
ia
yahpiano, hacia
ie
yehtierra, serpiente
io
yoh
radio
iu
yooviuda, ciudad
oi, oyoyboina, hoy
ua
wahagua, cuadro
ue
wehfuego, trueno
ui
weefuimos, fuiste
uo
wohcuota, individuo

Spanish Vowel Hiatus

When a strong vowel and a weak vowel appear together and the weak vowel is accented, the vowels belong to two separate syllables. This is called a hiatus. Two strong vowels together also form a hiatus.

Hiatus Pronunciation

HiatusPronunciationExample
ah - EE
ps
ah - OO
Rl
oh - EE
r
eh - EE
rr
eh - OO
transnte
ía
EE - ah
día
íe
EE - eh
ríe
ío
EE - oh
río
úa
OO - ah
cacatúa
úe
OO - eh
acentúe
úo
OO - oh
continúo
ae
ah - eh
caer
ao
ah - oh
aorta
aa
ah - ah
azahar
ea
eh - ah
leal
eo
eh - oh
leo
ee
eh - eh
poseer
oa
oh - ah
cgulo
oe
oh - eh
poetisa
oo
oh - oh
alcohol

Remember that the h is silent in Spanish, so it does not make any sound in the words azahar and alcohol in the table above.

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