Posted by: janecronin | July 29, 2011

Spanish spelling tip – double letters

Life would have been much easier for us as children if our spelling system had been like Spanish.  It’s a sort of “what you see is what you get” system, a bit like the Spanish themselves really, with none or our silent letters and weird variations.  Just yesterday I jokingly told a Spanish student that the English spelling system is part of a plot against foreigners and a way of making us feel superior all the time.  Just think about some village names in the UK which only the “locals” and “those in the know” can pronounce correctly.

Anyway, back to the nice simple Spanish spelling system, there are only three consonants that ever double in Spanish words and they are: “cc”, “ll” and “rr” – each one for a different, but logical, reason.

When the “c” doubles, both letters are pronounced differently – like this “K-th” (because of previous spelling rules about the “c” that you will know if you’ve watched my video!).  There are lots of words with this combination “accidente” “acceso” “confección”.  The double “l” combines to form a new sound completely, similar to the strong “y” sound, as in “calle”, “llave” etc.  The “r” doubles literally to be pronounced doubly strong, as in “perro” with a lovely rolled “rrrrrr”.

The disadvantage of all of this is that it affects the spelling of your own language and you end up wondering if we write “possible” or “posible” in English.  That mistake would have sent us to the back of the class!


  1. There are three explanations for the fact that no-one picked me up on this … 1) you’re just not on the ball, 2) you’re not interested or 3) you’re just too polite!! I hope it’s not number two anyway, but I couldn’t help noticing as I was driving along the road today the word “innovación” on an advertising hoarding. Came home to check and lo and behold, there’s another double letter combination that I had forgotten about – the double “n”. Here are some more examples – all produced by the prefix “in”.

    innato, innavegable, innecesario, innegable, innegablemente, innoble, innombrable, innovación, innovador, innovar, innumerable.

  2. C a R o L i N a – C, R, L, and N are the only letters that are doubled.

  3. Would you spell Many or Manny (short for Manuel)?
    I know the mainstream American way is Manny, but I find myself wanting to just type Many.

    • Hi, Welll the usual abbreviation of Manuel in Spanish is Manu. However, if it was still in Spanish I would spell it Mani. I think Manny is short for the English version Emmanuel.

  4. Hi Jane, getting my English students of Spanish to practise spelling their names this week: if I have a student called ‘Ross’, would he say ‘erre-oh-esse-esse’ or ‘erre-oh-doble esse’? Thanks for your help.

    • Hi, it would be “ese” “ese”. They don´t do the “double s” thing in Spanish spelling!

      • Thank you so much for such a swift and helpful reply!

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