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What are the vowels and consonants used in Spanish language?

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3 Answers

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All spoken languages have both vowels and consonants. Vowels and consonant are simply the two broadest classifications of vocal sounds. A vowel is defined as

a sound in spoken language, pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis

And a consonant as

a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract

The names "vowel" and "consonant" are also often used to describe the written letters which make the respective vowel and consonant sounds, but this often leads to confusion in cases where a single letter (or letter combination) may represent either a vowel or consonant sound when spoken. This is quite common in English, but also happens in Spanish.

Common examples in English of a "vowel letter" actually representing a consonant are Unicorn and Uniform. The letter Y is also confusing in both languages, as it can represent either a vowel (as in y in Spanish or byte in English) or a consonant (as in ya in Spanish, or yes in English).

In writing systems based on the Latin alphabet, the letters A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y are all used to represent vowels. However, not all of these letters represent vowels in all languages, or even consistently within one language (some of them, especially W and Y, are also used to represent approximants).


Generally speaking...

in Spanish, the following letters represent vowel sounds:

A, E, I, O, U, Y, &

And the following letters* represent consonant sounds:

B, C, Ch*, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, L, Ll*, M, N, Ñ, P, Q, R, Rr*, S, T, V, X, Y, Z

source.

*Historically, Ch, Ll, and Rr have been considered distinct letters in Spanish, but are more often considered separate letters in modern times.


More specifically...

There are only 5 vowels in Spanish (English has 12):

Spanish Vowel Sounds     English Example     Spanish Example
/a/ = "ah"               father, saw         papa, agua
/e/ = "eh"               met, bed            esperanza, bebe
/i/ = "ee"               bee, leaf           sí, chica
/o/ = "oh"               low, know           loco, bonito
/u/ = "oo"               sue, do             grupo, futuro

It is often said that Spanish has only 5 vowels, and they never vary; although this is generally true, it's not strictly true, especially if you consider diphthongs and regional differences.

A complete understanding of all consonants in Spanish is probably even more complex. Many consonants exist in both English and Spanish, although there are a few which are distinct to Spanish which may cause many English speakers problems, such as the trilled R, the Ñ, and the LL.

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'&' is not a letter. It is a sign originated in the contraction of latin word 'et'. –  Envite Jan 31 at 17:22
    
@Envite: 1) Wikipedia, the source I was quoting, disagrees with you saying "la letras A, E, I, O, U, Y, & se utilizan para representar vocales". 2) How do you know it's not a letter? It certainly fits the definition of "letter" on both wikipedia and dictionary.com. –  Flimzy Jan 31 at 18:56
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About 1) your WP source is not saying that '&' is a letter in Spanish, just that in latine alphabets (in general) vowels may be A, E, I, O, U, Y, &, and it moreover specifies that '&' is used for aproximatives. About 2) in Spanish '&' does not fit the definition of "letter" on WP 'cos it does not compose phonemes but represents a whole word, and does not fit the definition of d.com 'cos doesn't represent a sound. Just check es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ortograf%C3%ADa_del_espa%C3%B1ol and rae.es/consultas/exclusion-de-ch-y-ll-del-abecedario (This one is authoritative) –  Envite Jan 31 at 20:29
    
@Envite: 1) I disagree. The English version of the wiki page does not list & as a vowel, because in English it is pronounced as and, whereas in Spanish it is a vowel, pronounced as i or y. 2) Your link provides a list of letters in the alphabet; this is not a list of all possible letters. Just because & is not a member of the 27-letter Spanish alphabet does not mean it's not a letter. Even in English & was historically considered the 27th letter of the alphabet. –  Flimzy Jan 31 at 20:57
    
Question is about consonants and vowels in Spanish. '&' is just out of the question. Full stop. –  Envite Feb 2 at 22:31
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Vowels:

a e i o u

Consonants:

b c d f g h j k l m n ñ p q r s t v w x y z
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Many spanish manuals consider "ch" and "ll" as consonants as well. –  Flamma Jan 30 at 15:16
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You're confusing letters with vowels and consonants. –  Flimzy Jan 31 at 3:30
    
@Flamma many years ago they were deprecated as consonants. In fac, "Ch" was called "CHE" and now is called "CE HACHE" –  ArcDare Jan 31 at 9:17
    
@Flimzy No I'm not. He's not asking about phonems, he's asking about the vowels and consonants. Those are exactly the ones you will be taught at school, and the ones you'll find on any student book. –  ArcDare Jan 31 at 9:20
    
@Flimzy In Spanish, they are analogues, because each letter have a correspondence with a unique sound (with the exception of "ll" and "ch". –  Flamma Jan 31 at 9:37
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Of course we do have vowels and consonants. In fact, we have the same as you do plus the consonant "ñ".

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Do you know where is the OP from? –  SysDragon Jan 28 at 15:50
    
I think he just meant "you" as "English speakers"... –  Noldorin Jan 28 at 16:38
    
My mistake. I'm assuming that @Raj is an english speaker. –  ntrx Jan 28 at 17:37
    
This doesn't really answer the question of what are the vowels and consonants; and further, it's not actually true. Spanish and English do not have the same vowels and consonants. English has far more vowels than Spanish (12 vs 5)--and Spanish has a few consonants that English doesn't have (such as the trilled R). –  Flimzy Jan 31 at 2:41
    
If I remember well, the question used to be if spanish language has vowels and consonants, just that. And please, lecture me, which vowels and consonants exist in the English language that don't exist in the spanish language? Btw, we only have one R, the pronunciation is what change depending on the word. (Sorry for my bad english) –  ntrx Jan 31 at 3:03
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