Spanish 101: Alphabet and Numbers

Spanish 101: Alphabet and Numbers

May 8, 2015|Traveler Resources| by Holbrook Travel

Spanish is the third most widely spoken language in the world. It’s the official language of 20 countries, with an estimated 470 million native speakers and many millions more who speak it as a second or third language. If you’re planning a trip to Latin America, learning to speak a few basic Spanish words and phrases will go a long way, and locals will appreciate the effort. Here are some fundamentals to get you started.

The Spanish alphabet has 27 letters. Most letters carry the same sound as in English, with a few exceptions explained below. Unlike in English, vowels in Spanish are always pronounced the same.

The letter combination “ch” (which was once considered a separate letter) is pronounced like the “ch” in chin. Also, the letter combination “ll” is pronounced with a “ya” or “ja” sound. For example, pollo (chicken) would be “poy-o” or “poj-o.”

A: a (pronounced like “a” as in arc)
B: be
C: ce (before “e” or “i” pronounced like “s” as in sun; otherwise pronounced like “c” as in cow)
D: de
E: e (pronounced like “e” as in hen)
F: efe
G: ge (before “e” or “i” pronounced like “h” as in hello; otherwise pronounced like “g” as in good)
H: hache (always silent)
I: i (pronounced like “ee” as in seen)
J: jota (pronounced like “h” as in hello)
K: ka
L: ele
M: eme
N: ene
Ñ: eñe (pronounced like “ny” as in Kenya)
O: o (pronounced like “o” as in home)
P: pe
Q: cu (pronounced like “k” as in key)
R: erre (note the letter combination “rr” is pronounced like the normal ‘r’ with a roll of the tongue)
S: ese
T: te
U: u (pronounced like “u” as in tune)
V: uve (pronounced like “b” as in boy)
W: uve doble
X: equis
Y: igriega
Z: zeta (pronounced like “s” as in sun)

1: uno
2: dos
3: tres
4: cuatro
5: cinco
6: seis
7: siete
8: ocho
9: nueve
10: diez
11: once
12: doce
20: veinte
30: treinta
40: cuarenta
50: cincuenta
60: sesenta
70: setenta
80: ochenta
90: noventa
100: cien
1,000: mil

Water: agua
Hot: caliente
Cold: frío
Doctor: médico
Hospital: hospital
Today: hoy
Tomorrow: mañana
Yesterday: ayer
Airport: aeropuerto
Customs: aduana
Hotel: hotel

Stay tuned for part 2 to learn some greetings and questions that might be helpful during your trip!