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The charts below show how the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Spanish language pronunciations in resource articles. For a guide to adding IPA characters to resource articles, see {{IPA-es}}, {{IPAc-es}}, and Resource: Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.

For terms that are more relevant to regions that have not undergone yeísmo (where words such as haya and halla are pronounced differently), words spelled with ?ll? can be transcribed in IPA with ???. This unmerged pronunciation predominates in the Andes, lowland Bolivia, Paraguay, some rural regions of Spain and some of northern Spain's urban upper class.[1]

For terms that are more relevant to regions that have seseo (where words such as caza and casa are pronounced the same), words spelled with ?z? or ?c? (the latter only before ?i? or ?e?) can be transcribed in IPA with ?s?. This pronunciation is most commonly found outside mainland Spain.

In all other cases, if a local pronunciation is made, it should be labeled as "local" (e.g. {{IPA-es|...|local}}).

See Spanish phonology for a more thorough discussion of the sounds of Spanish, and Spanish dialects and varieties for regional variation.

IPA Examples English approximation
b[2] bestia, embuste, vaca, envidia, fútbol about
? bebé, viva, curva, obtuso, apto[3] about, but without lips completely closed
d[2] dedo, cuando, aldaba today
ð diva, arder, admirar, atmósfera,[3] juventud this
f fase face
?[2] gato, guerra, lengua again
? trigo, amargo, signo, doctor[3] again, but without the tongue touching the roof of the mouth
?[2][4] ayuno you
[2][4] yermo, cónyuge jeep
k caña, quise, kilo scan
l lino lean
m[5] madre, campo mother
?[5] anfibio comfort
n[5] nido, sin, álbum need
?[5] ñandú, cónyuge canyon
?[5] cinco, tengo sing
p pozo spouse
r[6] rumbo, carro, honra, subrayar trilled r
?[6] caro, bravo, partir atom (with flapping)
s[7] s[7][8] saco, espita, xenón between sip and ship (retracted) (EU), sip (LA)
?[8] cereal, zorro thing (EU), sip (LA)
z[8] jazmín, juzgar[9] this (EU), zone (LA)
?[10] show, Rocher, Freixenet shack
t tamiz stand
t? chubasco choose
v[9] afgano van
x[11] jamón, general, México,[12] hámster[13] Scottish loch
?[2][4] llave million
z[9] isla, mismo, riesgo between zone and genre (retracted; EU), zone (LA)
IPA Examples English approximation
a mal father
e es berry
i di, y see
o sol more
u su food
IPA Examples English approximation
j ciudad, rey yet
w[15] cuatro, Huila, auto wine
Stress and syllabification
IPA Examples English approximation
' ciudad [?ju'ðað] domain
. o ['mi.o] Leo


  1. ^ Penny (2000:120, 132, 147)
  2. ^ a b c d e f /b, d, ?, ?/ are pronounced as fricatives or approximants [?, ð, ?, ?] in all places (except after a pause, /n/ or /m/, or in the case of /d/ and /?/ after /l/). In the latter environments they are stops [b, d, ?, ] like English b, d, g, j, but are fully voiced in all positions, unlike in English. When it is distinct from /?/, /?/ is realized as an approximant [?] in all positions (Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté 2003:257-8).
  3. ^ a b c The distinction between /p, t, k/ and /b, d, ?/ is lost in word-internal syllable-final positions. The resulting realization varies from [p, t, k] to [b, d, ?] to [?, ð, ?], with the latter being the usual form in conversational style (Hualde 2005:146).
  4. ^ a b c Most speakers no longer distinguish /?/ from /?/; the actual realization depends on dialect, however. See yeísmo and Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:258) for more information.
  5. ^ a b c d e Nasals always assimilate their place of articulation to that of the following consonant. Before velars, they are and before labial consonants, they are . The labiodental appears before /f/.
  6. ^ a b The rhotic consonants, and , only contrast word-medially between vowels, where they are usually spelled ?rr? and ?r?, respectively. Otherwise, they are in complementary distribution: Word-initially, stem-initially, and after /l, n, s/, only [r] is found; before a consonant or pause, the two are interchangeable, but [?] is more common (hence so represented here). Elsewhere, only [?] is found. When two rhotics occur consecutively across a word or prefix boundary they result in one long trill, which is transcribed with ??r? in this key: dar rocas [da? 'rokas], super-rápido [supe?'rapiðo] (Hualde 2005:184).
  7. ^ a b In much of Hispanic America and in the southern half of Spain, /s/ in syllable-final positions is either pronounced as or not pronounced at all. In transcriptions linked to this key, however, it is always represented by ?s?.
  8. ^ a b c Northern and Central Spain distinguish between ?s? and soft ?c? or ?z? . Almost all other dialects treat the two as identical (which is called seseo) and pronounce them as . In areas with the distinction, the alveolar sibilant is typically more retracted (often perceived as closer to the sh sound in ship) than in areas with seseo. Contrary to yeísmo, seseo is not a phonemic merger but the outcome of a different evolution of sibilants in southern Spain in comparison with northern and central dialects. There is a small number of speakers, mostly in southern Spain, who pronounce the soft ?c?, ?z? and even ?s? as (a phenomenon called ceceo). See phonological history of Spanish coronal fricatives and Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:258) for more information.
  9. ^ a b c [v] and [z] are syllable-final allophones of /f/ and /s/, respectively, found before voiced consonants. /?/ also becomes a voiced fricative in the same position, but since ?ð? represents the approximant allophone of /d/ in transcriptions of Spanish, /?/ is always transcribed with ??? in this system.
  10. ^ /?/ is used only in loanwords and certain proper nouns. It is nonexistent in many dialects, being realized as or ; e.g. show [t?ow]~[sow].
  11. ^ /x/ is pronounced as in many accents such as those in the Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, Andalusia, and the Canary Islands (Hualde 2005:156).
  12. ^ The letter ?x? represents /x/ only in certain proper names like Ximena and some placenames in current or former Mexico (e.g. Oaxaca and Texas).
  13. ^ The letter ?h? represents /x/ only in loanwords; though in native words it is always silent.
  14. ^ [j, w] are allophones of /i, u/ that manifest when unstressed and adjacent to another vowel. Mid vowels /e, o/ may also be realized as semivowels, as in ['po?eta, 'mae?st?o] (poeta, maestro). Semivocalic realizations of /e, o/ may in addition be raised to [j, w], as in ['pweta, 'majst?o], which is common in Latin America, but stigmatized in Spain (Hualde, Simonet & Torreira 2008:1911). Since both these phenomena are optional and predictable, they are not reflected in transcription ([po'eta, ma'est?o]).
  15. ^ Some speakers may pronounce word-initial [w] with an epenthetic [?] (e.g. Huila ['?wila]~['wila]).


  • Hualde, José Ignacio (2005), The Sounds of Spanish, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-54538-2
  • Hualde, José Ignacio; Simonet, Miquel; Torreira, Francisco (2008), "Postlexical contraction of nonhigh vowels in Spanish", Lingua, 118 (12): 1906-1925, doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2007.10.004
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 33 (2): 255-259, doi:10.1017/s0025100303001373
  • Penny, Ralph J. (2000). Variation and change in Spanish. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139164566. ISBN 0521780454. Retrieved 2022.

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