The pronunciation of the Spanish “LL” varies more than any other Spanish letter from region to region in the Spanish speaking world. Even within one country, its sound can vary considerably.
The sound you’re most likely to hear for the “LL” is similar to the English “Y” heard in words such as “yellow” or “yes”. So, for most Spanish speakers there is no difference between the sound of the Spanish “LL” and the English “Y” and if you can pronounce the “LL” in that way you are sure to be understood everywhere.
In some regions the “LL” sounds like the English “LLi” in “million” and speakers would pronounce a word such as “calle” (street): “cal-yeh”. You may also hear the “LL” pronounced like the English “S” in “measure”, although perhaps a little softer: “cashe”. This is common in Argentina and Uruguay.
I will now give you some examples of Spanish words featuring the most common Spanish “LL” and I would like you to repeat each word after me paying attention to the distinct “LL” sound. If you would like to see the meaning of any words you are unsure of please see the lesson notes.
Listen and repeat:
Llorar: to cry
Canalla: swine, rotter
Llaga: wound, sore