Top 7 Spanish spelling rules

Top 7 Spanish spelling rules

The changing "G"

  • When a "g" is before an "e" or an "i", the sound is of a strong English "h".

Ex:
Genial (great) - Sounds like "he-nial"
Gigante (giant) - Sounds like "hee - gan-teh"

  • When a "g" is before an "a", "o" or "u", the sound is of a soft English "g".

Ex:
Gato (cat) - Sounds like "ga-toh"
Guacamole (Mexican avocado sauce) - Sounds like "gwa-ka-mo-leh"
Guapa (pretty) - Sounds like "gwa-pah"

  • If we want a soft "g" before "e" or "i", we put an "u" in between:

Guerra (war) - sounds like "geh-rah"
Guitarra (guitar) - sounds like "gee-ta-ra"

  • If we want a strong "g" with "o","u" or "a", we would choose a "J".

The "j" always sounds strong, like a strong English "h", no matter what letter goes after.

Jungla (jungle)- Sounds like "hun-glah"
Jamón (Spanish ham) - Sounds like "ha-mon"

If I can achieve that strong sound with a "g", usually we choose the "g". However, there are a few cases when we'd use the "j".
The most important rule is words ending in the following have a -j:

  • aje, -eje, -jero, -jera, -aje, -eje, -jeria

The changing "C"

The rule with the "c" is very similar to the previous one, so it's a win win!

  • If a "c" goes before an "e" or an "i", it has a "th" sound.

Ex:
Cena (dinner) - sounds like "theh-nah"
Cine (cinema) - sounds like "thee-ne-mah"

  • If a "c" goes before an "o", "u" or "a", it has a "K" sound.

Ex:
Cuna (crib) - sounds like "Ku-nah"
Cocina (kitchen) - sounds like "koh-cee-nah"
Cara (face) - sounds like "kah-rah"

  • If I want a "th" sound with "o", "u" or "a", we use a "z".

The "z", just like the "j" on the previous rule, it always has the same sound, a "th" sound, no matter what vowel is after.

Ex:
Zapato (shoe) - sounds like "thah-pa-toh"
Zona (zone) -sounds like "thoh-na"
Zumbido (buzzing) - sounds like "thum-bee-doh"

  • If we want a "k" sound with "e" or "i", we use a "qu".

Again, the "q", which always goes with an "u" (so, "qu"), has always the same sound.

Ex:
Queso (cheese) - sounds like "keh-soh"
Quien (who) -sounds like "kee-en"

The u in "gu" and "qu" + ü

As we saw, the "gu" achieves a soft "g" sound before an "e" or an "i".

The "u" is the only difference that makes this combination possible, so you need to ignore this "u".

Ex:
Guía (guide) - sounds like "gee-ah"
Guinda (cherry) - sounds like "geen-dah"

Only when there are two dots on the "u", like this "ü", you pronounce the "u" in this situation.
Those two dots are like a mark for you to know to pronounce it.

Ex:
Pingüino (penguin) - sounds like "peen-gwee-noh"

The same way, the "qu" achieves a "k" sound before an "e" or an "i". Ignore this "u" too.

Ex:
Querer (to want) - sounds like "keh-rer"
Quince (fifteen) - sounds like "keen-theh"

The doubles

  • Double r

Please, don't stress about this. If you don't know how to pronounce it, do it like a single, English like "r" and everybody will understand you.

Ex: Perro (dog) / pero (but)

  • Double l

The "ll" has the sound of strong "l" and the same sound of a "y".

Ex:
Anillo (ring) - sound like "a-nee-yo"
flequillo (fringe) - sounds like "fleh-kee-yo"

It has the same as a "y" in words like:
Playa (beach)

Typical ñ

This letter is the probably the most representative of the Spanish language. Sounds similar to a "nh".

Uña (nail) - sounds like "u-nha" Niñero/a (babysitter) - sounds like "nee-nhe-roh"

Ch

This combination sounds close to "ts" but a bit stronger.

Ex:
Bizcocho (sponge cake) - sounds like "beeth-ko-tso"
Mochila (backpack) - sounds like "mo-tsee-la"

H

Last but not least, the poor muted "h". The "h", when it goes by itself, it doesn't sound, it's never pronounced. This is a simple rule because it doesn't got any exception!

Ex:
Habitación (room) - sounds like "a-bee-ta-thee-on"
Adherir (to stick) - sounds like "a-deh-reer"

And I obviously had to mention this one:
Hay (there is/are) - sounds like "a-ee" or like English "eye".

That is all!
Let me know if you have any question in the comments section below,

¡Hasta luego! :)