- Bingo! Spanish is a phonetic language. Yesss!
- Overall, the Spanish pronunciation is fairly simple, with only five vowels, and most consonants also found in English.
- The trilled r is probably the trickiest sound of the Spanish language. I used to believe Spanish native speakers had some kind of power. Like they were able to control their tongue, and make its tip vibrate by itself. But it’s much easier than that: Keep your tongue steady behind your teeth (without touching them), and force air out of your mouth. When the air goes through your mouth, it must make the tip of your tongue vibrate. You may not get it right the first time. Or the second time. Or the third time. But keep practicing, 5-10 minutes everyday. I guarantee it will come eventually. You can also start with your tongue touching your teeth to understand the mechanism. Or go to YouTube and search for how to trill your r’s to find video tutorials, and different approaches. Other novelties include:
- The flap, where your tongue makes a very brief contact with your palate above your teeth. It feels as if your were whipping your tongue. This sound is similar to the one found in the American better, with the letters tt.
- La jota, which feels like scratching your palate with air passing through your mouth.
- La ñ, which can be seen as a n followed by the y sound (like in you). Practice by saying nyou.
- The main stress usually falls on the penultima syllable (the next-to-last syllable) for words ending with a vowel, or the letters n or s. It falls on the last syllable for consonant-final words. And all of this is overruled by the presence of an accent, indicating the position of the main stress in this case..
- It varies between the different countries (and even regions). For example, the sound s can be replaced by an aspirated h in the Canary Islands and Puerto Rico.
Gender: Two genders, masculine and feminine. Most words ending in -o are masculine, and in -a feminine. But, of course, there are exceptions…
Cases: No declensions.
Negation: Add no before a verb.
Question: As a beginner, the simplest way is to rise your pitch at the end of a sentence. For more complex questions (involving how, why, what, …), you only need to add a word at the beginning of the sentence, and to rise your pitch at the end of the sentence.
Plural: Add the letter s at the end of a word.
Miscellaneous: You don’t need to use pronouns (I, you, he, …) in most cases. But it varies between the different dialects. For example, usted is a very formal you in Spain. And it’s usually used as a normal you in America, where people don’t use the Spanish informal you (tú).