Help:IPA for Spanish

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Spanish language pronunciations in Wikipedia articles.

In general, Castilian Spanish is used in IPA transcriptions. Deviations from this may occur in words with /θ/, /ʎ/ and /x/:

  • For terms that are more relevant to regions that have undergone yeísmo (so that, for example, hoya and holla are pronounced the same), words spelled with ll can be transcribed with [ʝ]
  • For terms that are more relevant to regions with seseo, (so that, for example, caza and casa are pronounced the same), words spelled with z and with soft c (i.e. where c occurs before i or e) can be transcribed with [s]
  • In South Spain, Canarias and Caribbean countries, the phoneme /x/ (j, soft g) is often realized as [h]

See Spanish phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of Spanish.

IPA Examples English approximation
b[1] bestia; embuste; vaca; envidia; fútbol best
β bebé; obtuso; vivir; curva between baby and bevy
d[1] dedo; cuando; aldaba dead
ð diva; arder; admirar this
f fase; café face
ɡ[1] gato; lengua; guerra got
ɣ trigo; amargo; sigue; signo like go, but without completely blocking air flow on the g
ʝ[1][2] ayuno; poyo; maracuyá you
ɟʝ[1][2] cónyuge; abyecto job
k caña; laca; quise; kilo scan
l lino; alhaja; principal lean
ʎ[2] llave; pollo milion
m[3] madre; comer; campo; anfibio mother
n[3] nido; anillo; anhelo; sin; álbum need
ɲ[3] ñandú; cañón; enyesar canyon
ŋ[3] cinco; venga; conquista sing
p pozo; topo spouse
r[4] rumbo; carro; honra; amor; amor eterno trilled r
ɾ[4] caro; bravo; amor eterno ladder (American English)
s[5] saco; espita; xenón sack
θ[5] cereal; encima; zorro; enzima; paz thing
t tamiz; átomo stand
chubasco; acechar choose
x[6] jamón; eje; reloj; general; México[7] Scottish loch
z[8] isla; mismo; deshuesar prison
Marginal phonemes
IPA Examples English approximation
ʃ[9] abacaxi; Shakira; show shack
tlapalería; cenzontle; Popocatépetl no English equivalent (from Nāhuatl)
ts Ertzaintza; abertzale; Pátzcuaro cats
IPA Examples English approximation
a azahar father
e vehemente set
i dimitir; mío; y see
o boscoso sole
u cucurucho; dúo food
IPA Examples English approximation
j aliada; cielo; amplio; ciudad yet
w[11] cuadro; fuego; Huila arduo wine
Stress and syllabification
IPA Examples English approximation
ˈ ciudad [θjuˈðað] domain
. o [ˈmi.o] Mayan


  1. ^ a b c d e /b, d, ɡ, ʝ/ are pronounced as the fricatives or approximants [β̞, ð̞, ɣ̞, ʝ̞]; represented here without the undertacks) in all places except after a pausa, after an /n/ or /m/, or—in the case of /d/ and /ʝ/—after an /l/, in which contexts they are stops [b, d, ɡ, ɟʝ], similar to English b, d, g, j, except that they are fully voiced in all positions, unlike their English counterparts (Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté 2003:257-8).
  2. ^ a b c Many Spanish speakers no longer distinguish /ʎ/ from /ʝ/; the actual realization depends on dialect, however. See yeísmo and Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:258) for more information.
  3. ^ a b c d The nasal consonants /n, m, ɲ/ only contrast before vowels. Before consonants, they assimilate to the consonant's place of articulation. This is partially reflected in the orthography. The three do not contrast at the end of a word; depending on dialect, this neutralized nasal may appear as [n], [ŋ], or nasalization of the preceding vowel.
  4. ^ a b The rhotic consonants /ɾ/ ‹r› and /r/ ‹rr› only contrast between vowels. Otherwise, they are in complementary distribution as ‹r›, with [r] occurring word-initially, after /l/, /n/, and /s/, and also represented here as before consonants, and word-finally (positions in which they vary); only [ɾ] is found elsewhere.
  5. ^ a b Northern and central Spain still distinguish between s (/s/) and soft c or z (/θ/). Almost all other dialects treat the two as identical (which is called seseo) and pronounce them as /s/. There is a small number of speakers, mostly in southern Spain, who pronounce the soft c, z and even s as /θ/, a phenomenon called ceceo. See phonological history of Spanish coronal fricatives and Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:258) for more information.
  6. ^ /x/ is generally pronounced [h], as in the English word ham, in South Spain, Canarias and Caribbean countries.
  7. ^ The letter x only represents /x/ in certain proper names like Ximena and some place names in current or former Mexico (Oaxaca, Texas).
  8. ^ /s/ is pronounced as [z] before voiced consonants.
  9. ^ /ʃ/ is only used in loanwords and certain proper nouns. In many dialects, it is replaced by [] or [s]; e.g. show [tʃou]~[sou].
  10. ^ The semivowels [w] and [j] can be combined with vowels to form rising diphthongs (e.g. cielo, cuadro). Falling diphthongs (e.g. aire, rey, auto) are transcribed with /i/ and /u/.
  11. ^ Some speakers may pronounce word-initial [w] with an epenthetic /ɡ/; e.g. Huila [ˈɡwila]~[ˈwila].


  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259 

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