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I was taught Spanish d has two pronounciations, when at the beginning of the word it is a hard d and when between vowels, it is pronounced /ð/ much like th in English the.

Please look at this sentence 'Nosotros nos reunimos para dar a bevienida a la profesora'. Should I say /para ðar a/ or /para dar a/?

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Welcome, @gus, to our site! You've asked two excellent questions. However, you have asked two distinct questions here. I have removed your second question, to keep this one better focused. I encourage you to ask your second question (about the pronunciation of /b/) as a second question! –  Flimzy Aug 3 at 22:09

2 Answers 2

This is a good question, and unfortunately the answer is, "it depends". The Spanish letter d has different pronunciations depending on where it comes in a word.

  • Word-initially, it will generally have a sound closer to the English d, although pronounced with the tongue behind the teeth, rather than upon the upper alveolar ridge (on the hard palate).

  • Intervocalically (between vowels), the Spanish d is normally realized as /ð/, that is, the same sound you make when you say the word rather. In some dialects, it may be /Ø/ (elided/silent) if it comes before the last syllable.

  • Word-finally, the pronunciation will vary a bit more. The four most common pronunciations are /d/ (like word-initial), /t/ (also with tongue behind teeth), /θ/ (as in thistle), or /Ø/. This is heavily dependent on dialect.

Now you'd think the answer would be easy. dar has a word-initial d, so it should sound /d/. However, in Spanish, many words will often be pronunced together as if they were a single word, especially in fast speech. Prepositions, object pronouns, demonstratives, and articles are the most likely to be "joined" to a more significant word, generally a verb/noun/adjective.

I would normally have the following word groupings in speech:

  • (nosotros) (nos reunimos) (para dar) (la bienvenida) (a la profesora)

Why is this significant? Because each group is pronounced as if a single word, that is, as if it read nosotros nosreunimos paradar labienvenida alaprofesora. In this case, you can see that the d is now positioned between two vowels, and would thus be pronounced /ð/.

On the other hand, let's say you trail off after saying para because you were deciding between saying dar la bienvenida and saludar. Notice how the grouping changes:

  • (nosotros) (nos reunimos) (para...) (ehm...) (dar) (la bienvenida) (a la profesora)

Now dar is back to its own word group, and will get the word-initial pronounciation of /d/.

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Actually, we Spanish speakers are not aware that 'd' has different sounds. There might be different sounds (I'd say it depends on regions) but to me (Argentine) our 'd' is similar to English 'd', only that a little softer. You can pronounce that way always and it won't never sound wrong. We never stick the tongue between-out of the teeth (as in "this").

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