Posted by: janecronin | November 1, 2011

Spanish pronunication for English speakers – the letter E

Our second vowel sound in Spanish is represented by the letter E.  Like the other four vowels, E has one sound and one sound only, irrespective of where it appears in a word: at the beginning, especial (special) in the middle, beso (kiss) or at the end, coche (car).  In all cases the sound is very similar to the English E as in “egg” or “elephant”.  Although this is very simple in principle, it is actually difficult for
us to do, because it is so alien in English speech to keep repeating the same
sound regardless of where it appears in a word. Think for a while about how we pronounce the letter E in these four words:  children, we, delay, face.  If you listen carefully you will realise that there are three different sounds here and one E that is completely silent!

Of course sometimes in Spanish the letter E combines with another vowel to create
what we call a “diphthong” which means a double vowel sound.  The most common, and at the same time trickyiest of these is the “e-i” combination, which appears in many words including seis (six), reina (queen), aceite (oil).  To get to this sound we should pronounce the E and I separately first, and then merge them together.  The result should end up exactly the same as the English “ay” sound as in the word “say” “race” or indeed in my name “Jane”.

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