One factor that makes Spanish pronunciation fairly easy for English speakers is that many of the consonants are pronounced almost like their English equivalents. Although there are some subtle differences in a few cases, generally you can pronounce the consonants covered in this lesson as you would in English and be easily understood – provided you’re doing OK on your other letters, of course!
One thing to keep in mind about Spanish consonants is that they’re generally softer and somewhat less distinct than their English equivalents (the most notable exceptions are the r and rr). Although their vowel sounds may be distinct, some hispanohablantes may sound to the untrained ear like they’re mumbling. Keep in mind that there are some regional variations as well, although if you follow the descriptions in these lessons you will be understood.
Here are the pronunciations of the consonants with sounds most like English’s:
- CH is pronounced the same as the “ch” in “church.” Examples: chico, machismo, Chile. Learn more details in the lesson on pronouncing the CH.
- F is pronounced like the “f” in “fox.” Examples: eficaz, frío, frenes. Learn more in the lesson on pronouncing the F.
- K has basically the same sound in Spanish, although somewhat softer. It is found primarily in words of foreign origin. Examples: kilómetro, Irak. Learn more in the lesson on pronouncing the K and Q.
- M is pronounced like the “m” in “mother.” Examples: madre, música, embajada. See our lesson on pronouncing the M.
- P is pronounced like the “p” in “spot.” Note that the “p” in “spot” is softer and less explosive than the “p” in “pot.” Examples: papas, padre, suponer. Learn more in the lesson on pronouncing the P.
- Q is pronounced the same as the k. Note that the u following a q is not pronounced. Examples: quetzal, siquiatra, que. Learn more in the lesson on pronouncing the K and Q.
- S is pronounced like the “s” in “simple.” You do not give it the “z” sound heard in “wears” and many other English plural words, although it can be slightly voiced (like a soft “z”) when it comes before an m, b, d, v, g, l, n or r. Examples: Susana, seres humanos, sencillo, fantasma. Learn more in the lesson on pronouncing the S.
- T is pronounced like the “t” in “stop.” Note that the “t” of “stop” is softer and less explosive than the “t” of “top.” Examples: todo, yate, temer. Learn more details in our lesson on pronouncing the T.
- W can usually be pronounced like the “w” in “water.” It is found primarily in words of foreign origin. Examples: web, Zimbabwe. Learn about variations in our lesson on pronouncing the W.
- Y is generally pronounced the same as in English. See the lesson on vowels for a more thorough explanation.