Sounds that you might have trouble with in Spanish (and how to pronounce them)

When learning a new language, people might have trouble with certain sounds. Some languages may be more difficult than others. Spanish might be one of those languages, having in its repertoire some tricky sounds. Taking this into account, the following article serves the purpose of helping you, as a Spanish student, to better pronounce some of them.

The rolled “r”

Let’s begin with what is probably the most difficult of all sounds to pronounce: the rolled “r”. It’s widely used by Spanish speakers, but words such as “perro” (dog), “carro” (car) and “rueda” (wheel) may be very difficult for the majority of foreigners to pronounce. The key to master the rolled “rr” is to produce the sound with the tip of your tongue, instead of your throat. Try this until you can say “perro” instead of “pero”! Also, check this article, which can help you as well.

The “j” (jota)

The rolled “r” might be difficult, but it is not the only one. “Ojos”, “juego”, “aguja”. Not easy, right? Well, you are probably reading it like “ohos”, “huego” or “aguha”, since in english the closest sound to this “j” is as aspired “h”.  The “j” is made with the back of the mouth, which can almost feel like you’re clearing your throat or spitting something out. In this article you can read more about this and other important sounds in the Spanish language.

The “ñ” (eñe)

Here we have a letter that does not exist in the English alphabet. It is important that
you do not confuse the “ñ” with the usual “n”, because they represent different sounds. The “ñ” is pronounced similarly (not identically!) to the “n”, but instead of using the tip of your tongue like you do when you pronounce “n”, you use the middle-front. Besides this, another tip to better pronounce the “ñ” is to read this letter almost like you would read the “ny” in “canyon” and “ni” in “onion”. Now try it with “mañana” and “señora”.

The double “L”

The “ll” is common in the Spanish language but it varies a lot from region to region - there are at least 3 ways of reading it. First, it’s important to note that the Spanish “ll” is pronounced very differently from the English “ll”. For example, you can hear the word “calle” (street) be pronounced like “caye” (which is the most common use) or “cashe” (in some dialects). Try to read the words “llorar” (to cry), “llamar” (to call) and “llevar” (to take) pronouncing the “ll” like the “y” in “yellow”, which is probably the easiest.


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