The pronunciation of the Spanish letter “J” can be tricky for English speakers, as its sound is not found in the English language.
The “J” sound is classified as a “Voiceless Velar Fricative”, which is a technical term to describe the way that its sound is formed by forcing air through the slightly constricted back of the mouth. It is a scraping, raspy sound which can also be heard in words such as “Loch” when the final “CH” is pronounced with a Scottish accent.
Its distinct sound is the same wherever it is found in a word. It sounds very similar to the English “H” sound in words such as “honey” or “house” and if you make this sound for the Spanish “J” you will be understood, but the true sound of the Spanish “J” is slightly different: stronger, throatier, raspier.
I will now give you some examples of Spanish words featuring the “J” and I would like you to repeat each word after me paying attention to the distinct “J” sound. If you would like to see the meaning of any words you are unsure of please see the lesson notes.
Listen and repeat:
Jota: name of the Spanish letter “J”
Jarabe: cough mixture
Jugar: to play
Jinete: horseman/horsewoman, rider
Atajo: short cut
Cortejar: to woo
Tinaja: large earthenware jar
Botijo: drinking jug