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THE SPANISH ALPHABET

     Spanish once had 30 letters in its alphabet. In addition to the 26 letters of the English alphabet, Spanish also had the "CH", "LL", "RR" and the "Ñ". But, several years ago three of those letters were eliminated as separate letters and only the "Ñ" remains, making a total of 27 letters. Many Spanish-English diction- aries still have the old letters in their listings. Therefore, to look up words like chico or llegar one would have to go to the "CH" or "LL" sections in the dictionary. Each letter has a name to identify it when we say the alphabet or spell a word. It also has a sound or sounds. Pronouncing Spanish letters and words often requires you to open your mouth more than you do in English and to curve the corners of your mouth slightly upward.

A  Name: pronounced as a shortened ah as the "A" in father or the "O" in mop
Sound: It is always pronounced the same as its name above!
Examples: Paco, padre, nada, Panamá

B  Name: pronounced as a softened beh as the "BA" in baby
Sound: At the beginning of a word or after the letters "L" and "N" it sounds like the English "B" in
baseball. All other times has a softer sound than the English "B". This is produced by
using only your lower lip. 
Examples: boca, bonita, barco, bolso

C  Name: pronounced as a shortened seh as the "SA" in sane or safe
Sound: The "C" can have both a hard sound ( like the English "K" ) and soft sound (like the
English "S" ) when used in words.
Examples: cero, cinco, casa, carro

D  Name: pronounced as a shortened deh as the "DA" in day
Sound: Place your tongue slightly on the back of your upper teeth. When a word ends in "D"
it is only slightly sounded, giving a slight "TH" sound as in the English word the.
Examples: domingo, de, dinero, diablo

E  Name: pronounced as a shortened eh as the "A" in day with just a bit of the "E" sound in bet
Sound: Turn your lips up slightly at the corners of your mouth.
Examples: elefante, enero, ese, español

F  Name: pronounced as a shortened eh feh as in the "A" in day + the "FA" in favorite
Sound: It sounds like the English "F" when used in a word.
Examples: fecha, fin, frío, febrero

G  Name: pronounced as a shortened hay as in "hey" 
Sound: The "g" can have both a hard sound ( like the English "G" in gun ) and soft sound ( like 
the English "H" in happy ) when used in words.
Examples: gato, grande, gente, gemelo

Name: the name of "H" is aah cheh , as in the "O" in mop + the "CHA" in change
Sound: Remember, the letter "H" is the silent letter! It is never pronounced in a word except
when used in combination with "C" as in "CH" the old Spanish letter. Then it sounds
like the "CH" in the English word change.
Examples: hola, hoy, hermano, hombre, chico, chicano

I   Name: pronounced as a shortened ee as the "EE" in feet or the "ea" in seat
Sound: It is always pronounced the same as its name above!
Examples: inglés, iglesia, Inca, isla

J  Name: pronounced as a shortened hoh tah as the "HO" in hotel + the "TO" in top
Sound: It is pronounced like the English letter "H" with a slight whisper of aircoming from
the back of your throat.
Examples: José, junio, jugo, joven

Name: pronounced as a shortened kah as the "CO" in cod or copper 
Sound: It sounds like the English letter "K". There are very few Spanish words using this
letter and they are all borrowed from other languages.
Examples: kilómetro

L   Name: pronounced as a shortened eh leh as the "A" in table + the "LA" in label
Sound: It sounds like the English letter "L" with the corners of your mouth turned
slightly up.
Examples: leche, lago, la, Latino

M   Name: pronounced as a shortened eh meh as the "A" in table + the "MA" in maybe.
Sound: It sounds like the English letter "M" with the corners of your mouth turned
slightly up.
Examples: madre, mano, México, moto

N   Name: pronounced as a shortened eh neh as the "A" in table + the "NA" in nail
Sound: It sounds like the English "N" with your tongue slightly on the back of your upper teeth.
Examples: nada, no, nunca, Navidad

Ñ   Name: pronounced as a shortened ehn yay as the "A" in table + the "NY" sound in
canyon + the "A" in may
Sound: It sounds like the "NIO" in onion or the "NY" sound in canyon.
Examples: niño, piña, otoño, castaño

O  Name: pronounced as a shortened oh as the "O" in hotel or the "OA" in coat.
Sound: It is always pronounced the same as its name above!
Examples: octubre, ojo, oficina, oveja

P  Name: pronounced as a shortened peh as the "PA" in pay or pave
Sound: It sounds like the English letter "P" with the corners of your mouth turned slightly up.
Examples: Paco, padre, poco, Panamá

Q  Name: pronounced as a shortened cooh as the "COO" in cool
Sound: It sounds like the English letter "K" when used in a word.
Examples: que, queso, quince, quetzal

R   Name: pronounced as a shortened eh reh as the "A" in table + the "RA" in rain with a slight
"D" sound beginning the "RA" portion.
Sound: It sounds like a combination of the English "R" and "D" when used in the middle of a
word, somewhat like the "TT" in butter. When it begins or ends a word it has a trill as
you lightly roll your tongue.
Examples: octubre, primo, rico, comer

S  Name: pronounced as a shortened eh seh as the "A" in table + the "SA" in sane.
Sound: It sounds like the English letter "S" with the corners of your mouth turned up slightly.
Examples: siesta, sol, sopa, santo


T  Name: pronounced as a shortened teh as the "TA" in table.
Sound: It sounds like the English "T" with your tongue slightly on the back of your upper teeth
and the corners of your mouth turned slightly up.
Examples: taco, todo, toro, tomate

U   Name: pronounced as a shortened ooh as the "U" in rude or the "OO" in food.
Sound: It is always pronounced the same as its name above! 
Examples: uvas, uno, usted, unidos

V   Name: pronounced as a softened beh as the "BA" in baby.
Sound: At the beginning of a word it sounds like the English "B" as in baby. In the middle of a
word it sounds like the English letter "V" except you do not blow air across your lip.
Examples: vaca, vaso, ventana, vista, lava

W   Name: pronounced as a shortened do ble veh as the "DO" in dome + "BLAY" + "VA" as
in the English word vase
Sound: It sounds like the English letter "W" when used in a word. The letter "W" is used only in
words of foreign origin.
Examples: Washington

X   Name: pronounced as a shortened eh kees as the "a" in table + keys
Sound: It sounds like you are hissing the letter "S" when used before a consonant. Between
vowels it sounds like a hissed "GS".
Examples: extraña, explorar, éxito, examen, exacto

Y   Name: pronounced as ee gree a gah as the "EE" in feet + "GREE" in Greek + the
"A" in table + the "GA" in garden. (i griega) It means the "Greek I"
Sound: By itself It is pronounced like a long English "E" or the Spanish letter "I". When used in
a word it is pronounced like the "Y" in you. Many Spanish speakers often add a slight
"J" sound. 
Examples: y, yo, mayo, ya

Z   Name: pronounced as a shortened say tah as the "SA" in sane + the "TU" in tumble.
Sound: It is pronounced like the English letter "S".
Examples: zapato, raza, zona, zorro


CH
     Although this is no longer a Spanish letter, its sound still exists. It sounds like the "CH" in
the English word change.
Examples: chico, chicano, chile, chocolate

LL
     Although this is no longer a Spanish letter, its sound still exists. It is pronounced like the
English letter "Y". Many Spanish speakers add a very slight "J" sound to it.
Examples: llamada, ¿Cómo se llama?, calle, silla

RR
     Although this is no longer a Spanish letter, its sound still exists. When it exists in the middle
of a word it is pronounced like the Spanish "R" with a trill, produced by slightly rolling your tongue.
This sound is also produced when a Spanish word begins with "R" or ends with "R".
Examples: perro, pizarra, ¡Arre!, rico, rojo, Ricardo, comer

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