Syllables in Spanish using Q, R, RR, W and X

In Spanish, the letter Q is always used accompanied by the letter U, which, in this function only has sound in a very reduced amount of syllables, and are those having a following letter to vowels “a” and “o”:





With the vowels “e” and “i” the letter U is silent. I.e., for to pronounce syllables it formed by the digraph “qu” followed by those members, their sound is omitted:





In Spanish there are not syllables that use two-letter u after the Q letter.



The letter “R” and the digraph “RR” are the most difficult to pronounce for English-Speaking people, and that is due to that, there are no syllables with rrsounds in English which  require to use the vibration of the tongue against the palate so significantly. Even many Spanish-Speaking people, have difficulty to pronounce it, either by physical limitations (shape of the tongue and his frenulum) or a poor instruction when children. Indeed, there are many “exercises” specific for pronunciation, to correct these difficulties. Later, when you have advanced a bit with the vocabulary, we will practice these exercises, if you require it.

We will begin learning the sound of the letter RR. Their sound is achieved strongly “vibrating” tongue against the front of the palate:











These syllables are never used to start a word in Spanish. They are only used as intermediate or final syllables of words.

In Spanish, the sound of syllables that use R has a very particular rules which are summarized in the following way:

  • When the letter R is the first letter “from the word”, or when you start a syllable that follows the consonants N, L or S, it must be pronounced on “reinforced” form (as if the letter RR) and its sound is similar to the of syllables with RR:











  • When the letter R is used between two vowels or following another consonant in the same syllable, the sound is achieved with the same position of the tongue but with a simple or soft vibration:










The use of the letter W in Spanish, has been limited to words that derive from Anglicisms, or Associated names to people or places, or to transcribe words of Asian origin, so the rules that govern its pronunciation are very variable. The possible sounds of syllables that are containing this letter, are:

Wa (like in Wagner)


Wa (like in Wahington)


We (like in Wenceslao)


We (like in Wellington)








In the case of the letter X, the pronunciation is somewhat similar to the syllables that are containing S, but starting from a position of the tongue joined to the palate, making it sound more strong:











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Written By Alberto Otano

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