Spanish Vowels Pronunciation
In this article I am going to discuss Spanish vowels pronunciation. In most languages words, the vowels are the main carriers of your voice which means discourse, are impossible without vowels. The most common phonetic pattern in a language is consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel.
In English language the vowels are: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y, but those five or six letters stand for about 20 vowel sounds in most English accents.
Letter A, for example, is pronounced different in “apple” than in “patient” or letter O, changes its pronunciation as in “over”, the “O” sound is different than in “stop”.
The letter “Y” can be a vowel as in the words “try”, “shy” or “why” or it can be a consonant as in “yesterday”, “yourself” or “year”.
Meanwhile in English there are all those mentioned sounds plus duality in letter “Y”, in Spanish the vowels are: A – E – I – O – U and each one has only one sound.
Spanish might look more difficult for you and for many, but the truth is English and Spanish share more than 1000 similar words either in spelling, meaning or even pronunciation. Spanish vowels pronunciation is not as difficult as you may think.
Also, Spanish language has adopted lot of English words and English language has around 140 words that are originally Spanish.
But the importance in this article is to highlight the characteristic and simplicity of the Spanish vowels pronunciation:
- Spanish Vowels are consistent in the way they sound
- They have only one sound each
- Their sound doesn’t change
- Their sound is short which means the length of the vowel is not significant in distinguishing between words
- Learning vowels, you should be able to read Spanish
- In Spanish you pronounce every letter, with one or two exceptions
Let’s take a closer view:
- A: like the A in the English words PAD, TAP, HA
- E: like the E in the English words PEN and SE
- I: like an English double EE in the English word S
- O: the same as the O in the English word SPOT, COT, HO
- U: like the OO in the English word GOO
Spanish Vowels Pronunciation – Spanish diphthongs
In Spanish the most frequent diphthongs are combinations of an open vowel A – E – O, with a closed vowel I – U, or vice versa. There are also diphthongs formed by two consecutive closed vowels as in the word “noise” (ruido).
In some varieties of Spanish there are more words with diphthong than in other varieties, as in central Mexico and many other places, it is common to hear words where, according to the writing, two open vowels agree, such as in a towel (toalla), they are articulated as to̯aʝ̞a or tu̯aʝ̞a.
In Spanish, in general, diphthongs can only be formed between two (different) vowels with no other restriction than that at least one of them is weak “I” or “U”, regardless of the order. Examples of diphthongs: air (aire), self (auto), leg (pierna).
Spanish Vowels Pronunciation – Other letter combinations
When vowels “U” and “E” are together and preceded by letter “G” as in Guerra (War), the pronunciation will be exactly as in “Guest”, which means the sound of letter “U” will be omitted. The same case occurs when using letter “Q” as in the word Queso (Cheese), where the pronunciation will be as in the word “Kenya”.
In the diphthong “UI” when preceded by letter “G”, the sound in “Guisantes” (Peas), will be as in the word “Guitar”. Similar when combining “QUI”, where “Quimera” (Chimera), will be pronounced as the beginning of the word “Kilo”.
The fact that Spanish has a strong correspondence between the sound of a word and its spelling will be an advantage to those who want to learn this language. Starting with the Spanish vowels pronunciation is a key for your learning.
By studying the vowels, practicing their pronunciation and possible variation when combined with other vowel and consonant such as “G” or “Q” will give you a big step ahead in order to comprehend Spanish.
I hope you have found this article on Spanish Vowels Pronunciation useful in your learning of the Spanish language.