In the previous Spanish Pronunciation lessons in this course we have looked at the pronunciation of single Spanish vowel and consonant sounds. We will now start practising the pronunciation rules which apply to Spanish words that contain two consecutive vowels.
Sometimes these vowels are pronounced together in the same syllable and other times they are pronounced distinctly in separate syllables. To know how to pronounce these combinations correctly you should be aware of which Spanish vowels are classed as “strong” vowels and which are classed as “weak” vowels. The strong Spanish vowels are “A”, “E” and “O” and the weak ones are “I” and “U”.
1. Two strong vowels: Hiatus
When you find two strong vowels together you should pronounce both vowels clearly and separately. For example: “poema” (poem). This vowel combination is known as a Hiatus.
2. Strong vowel + weak vowel or two weak vowels: Diphthong
When you find a strong and a weak vowel together or two weak vowels together you should pronounce both vowels clearly, but together, as one syllable. For example: “bueno” (good). This vowel combination is known as a Diphthong.
When the pronunciation of a word does not follow these rules, an acute accent is placed on the stressed vowel to let you know which vowel should be stressed. For example: “frutería” (fruit shop). The last two letters are “I” and “A” and according to the rules they should be pronounced in the same syllable “fru-te-ria”, but because the correct pronunciation is “fru-te-rí-a” an accent is placed on the “I” to break the diphthong.
I hope very much that you are starting to feel more confident with your Spanish pronunciation and are enjoying this course. In the next lessons we will look at hiatuses and diphthongs in detail and give you lots more opportunities to practice your pronunciation.