The Spanish Alphabet Continued

Be sure to listen to the audio for the Spanish Alphabet as well.

The Spanish Alphabet Continued

In addition to the 27 letters from the previous lesson, all Spanish vowels make use of an accent mark; the sounds remain the same, but here there is more emphasis.

Let’s go through some examples.

 

Stressed Vowels

á
fantástico
el árbol
está

é
débil
el médico
compré

í
difícil
la película
viví

ó
gruñón
la habitación
llegó

ú
estúpído
la música
continúo

letter
adjective
noun
verb

You want to do your best to stress any letters with an accent. This will not only help people understand you, but in some cases, it can change the meaning of a word.

The importance of the accent

pago vs pagó

pago—I pay
pagó—he/ she/ it paid

pago
pagó

“Yo pago hoy porque ella pagó ayer.”
I’ll pay today because she paid yesterday

esta vs está

esta—this
está—he is/ she is/ it is

esta

está

Esta vez no entró. En cambio, está esperando afuera.”
This time he didn´t come in. Instead, he’s waiting outside.”

Another difficult part at the beginning of learning Spanish is figuring out the intonation (or stress) of a word when there’s no accent mark.

There’s some patterns you can familiarize yourself with.

It always comes down to listening practice, however, as rules aren’t something you want to think about while having a conversation. So just be aware of these.

The intonation patterns are:

  1. For words ending with a vowel (or letters -n or -s) the second-to-last syllable is stressed.
  2. For words ending in a consonant (except -n or -s) the last syllable is stressed.
  3. If there’s an accent, stress the accent and ignore the above rules.

Listen for the stress placed on the underlined syllables

Rule #1 in action:

el problema—el problema
el camino—el camino
el crimen—el crimen
la crisis—la crisis

Rule #2 in action:

la comunidad—la comunidad
el animal—el animal
la oficial—la oficial

The majority of words follow rule #1

Another critical aspect of the Spanish alphabet is the combination of consonants that produce unique sounds.

Consonant Combos

ch
chismoso
el chantaje
chocar

ll
lleno
la lluvia
llevar

rr
arriba
la guerra
correr

combination
adjective
noun
verb

Depending on country or person, the –ll combination most likely resembles:

y sound, like in you or yellow
OR
j sound, like in jelly or juvenile

If the word begins with –ll, like la lluvia, it’s often pronounced with a –j sound, like jelly.

If the –ll combination occurs in the middle of the word, like pollo, the sound will be closer to the English –y, like in yellow.

 *As an exception to this, if you visit Argentina or Uruguay, the  –ll combination resembles a –sh­ sound, like in shoe or smash.

Through two lessons we’ve covered the entire Spanish alphabet, including consonants, vowels, vowels with their stress and three special letter combinations.

But, if you remember from the last lesson, I said that although there are 27 letters in the alphabet, Spanish actually has 35+ distinct sounds that comes from these letters.

In the next lesson we’ll go through examples for all sounds, providing you with the knowledge for pronouncing every single word in Spanish.

English Translations

Stressed Vowels

á
fantastic
tree
he/she/it is

é
weak
doctor
I bought

ó
grumpy
bedroom
he/ she /it arrived

í
difficult
movie
I lived

ú
stupid
music
I continue

Consonant Combos

ch
gossipy
blackmail
to crash

ll
full
rain
to carry

rr
above; up
war
to run