Spanish Alphabet

The Spanish alphabet uses the Latin script with one additional letter: eñe, "ñ". Altogether, there are 27 letters in the Spanish alphabet. However, things were different up until 2010. Before that, ch and ll were also considered separate letters (making it 29 letters in the alphabet). In 2010, the Royal Spanish Academy officially removed them from the alphabet.

Letters “k” and “w” are considered part of the Spanish alphabet but they are only used in words borrowed from other languages, such as karate, kilo, or waterpolo.

The letter “ç” (c-cedilla) was used in Old Spanish. It is still used in many languages, such as French, Portuguese and others. It is now obsolete in Spanish. It has merged with “z” and Old Spanish coraçon, cabeça, fuerça became modern corazón, cabeza, fuerza.

Another peculiar feature of the Spanish alphabet are vowels marked by acute accents (also called diacritic signs). These are not considered to be separate letters but are used in written texts for two main purposes.

The first purpose is to mark word stress if it does not follow the most common pattern (el examen - los exámenes).

The second purpose is to differentiate words that are otherwise spelled absolutely the same, for instance: tú "you" and tu "your," sólo "only" (as in "solamente") and solo "alone".

Although most of the letters are the same as in English, German and other languages using the Latin script, some of the letters have quite a different pronunciation, compared to other languages:

  • The Spanish “b” and “v” are pronounced exactly alike. These two letters have two different sounds. The "hard" b or v (similar to the English b, but less explosive) is used at the beginning of a sentence, after n or m, and sometimes also after d in words such as advertencia (warning). In other cases, the “soft” b or v is used. It is very much similar to the English v, but with the two lips touching instead of the lower lip and upper teeth.
  • The letter “j” is pronounced as /x/: Juan, jirafa, juez, jaja (used in texting instead of haha) and so on.
  • Double el “ll” is pronounced as /ʝ/ (similar to the first sound in the English word yellow): llamar, amarillo, paella and others.
  • The letter “h” is silent, except for loanwords, like hámster.

If your native language uses the Latin script as well, mastering the Spanish alphabet will be relatively easy as the letters are the same and many of them have very similar pronunciation. However, it is still important to study the alphabet carefully as there are some peculiarities (accents, letters like j, ñ, ll that have different pronunciation). If you master the alphabet at the very beginning of studying the language it will save you time further down the road.

Spanish Vocabulary Books

Learn Spanish - Quick / Easy / Efficient

Learn Spanish - Quick / Easy / Efficient

This vocabulary book is a curated Spanish word frequency list with 2000 of the most common Spanish words and phrases. Following the Pareto principle (80/20 rule), this book is built to streamline the learning process by concentrating on the core words and sentence structures. The result is a unique book ideal for driven learners and language hackers.
Spanish Vocabulary Book

Spanish Vocabulary Book

This Spanish vocabulary book contains more than 3000 words and phrases and is organized by topic to make it easier for you to pick what to learn first. It is well suited for learners of all levels who are looking for an extensive resource to improve their vocabulary or are interested in learning vocabularies in one particular area of interest.

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