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What are the vowels and consonants used in Spanish language?

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2 Answers 2

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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


*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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a e i o u


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 '14 at 15:16
You're confusing letters with vowels and consonants. – Flimzy Jan 31 '14 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 '14 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 '14 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 '14 at 9:37

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