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I have been taught that unlike in English, the -b and the -v are pronounced the same way in Spanish. They both sound like the -b in bat.

For example, "violeta, bola, vino, votar, botar" all start with the -b consonant.

But then I heard people pronouncing grapes as "u-vas" instead of "u-bas." Is this an exception to the rule?

  • Which region of the Hispanic world did you hear this? That would make every difference, because in Argentina they use the word vos and they pronounce the V. – dockeryZ Jan 11 '16 at 1:26
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    There is considerable allophonic variation of the /b/ phoneme (spelled with ‹b›, ‹v›, and occasionally ‹w›) which will greatly depend on the letters around it, stress, and dialect. It can be in the range [b~v~f~β~Ø~p~w~ɣ]. Barring influence from other languages or intentional (and illogical) affectation, this variation is basically the same regardless the spelling. – user0721090601 Jan 11 '16 at 2:25
  • Don't struggle yourlsef with a perfect pronunciation about words with b or v. This is probably regional. Words with b or v are easily confused. For instance vasta and basta have the same pronunciation, but of course, different meanings. – Alejandro Jan 11 '16 at 12:26
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    As a native Spanish speaker (Argentina) : we (typically) don't have the ears trained to tell the difference – leonbloy Jan 12 '16 at 3:54
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The graphemes b and v correspond to one phoneme with two different allophones. If b/v appears in between two vowels (as in "uva") or preceded by a vowel and followed by a liquid (as in "hablar" or "abrir"), it is pronounced as bilabial fricative/approximant (you close your lips almost completely, so only a bit of air can escape; compare to English v, a labiodental, where the partial closure is done with the lower lip and the upper teeth); elsewhere, it is an occlusive, where the lips block air passage completely.

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Normally the b and v sounds are equal in spanish. Maybe in some latin-american countries (Venezuela, maybe?) they are pronounced slightly differently, like in English, but you can pronounce them exactly the same with a /b/ sound. Actually, pronouncing them differently would sound strange in most (or all) spanish-speaking countries.

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