Spelling: general

In Spanish there is a limited number of possible syllables.

1 Consonant + vowel

These are the combinations of consonant + vowel:

a e i o u
ha he hi ho hu
y
ba be bi bo bu
va ve vi vo vu
wa wi
ca que qui co cu
ka ke ki ko ku
da de di do du
fa fe fi fo fu
ga gue gui go gu
güe güi
ja je ji jo ju
ge gi
xi
la le li lo lu
lla lle lli llo llu
ya ye yi yo yu
cha che chi cho chu
ma me mi mo mu
na ne ni no nu
ña ñe ñi ño ñu
pa pe pi po pu
ra- re- ri- ro- ru-
-rra- -rre- -rri- -rro- -rru-
-ra- -re- -ri- -ro- -ru-
sa se si so su
ta te ti to tu
exa exe exi exo exu
za ce ci zo zu

Several consonants represent the same sound: b / v, c / q / k; j / g, and ll / y. The opposite situation also happens: a consonant represents several sounds: g, r. Another characteristic of the Spanish is the letter ñ.

In addition, the use of the letter s / z / c; c / qu and g / gu depends on what vowel follows; a, o and u combine with the first, and e and i with the second. However, some words bear z before e or i: zénit (or cénit), enzima (do not mistake it for encima), zinc (= cinc), zeta, zipizape, zigzag, etc.

In Spanish there are three consonants that double, they are: l, r and c (ll, rr, c). Ll sounds different from l. In the group acc, the c sounds twice: the first one as ca and the second as ce.

Letter r deserves a special attention.

  • It sounds double r at the beginning of the word: ratón, rico, roto, etc.; also at the beginning of the syllable, after n or s: Israel, inri, etc., or after the consonants p, t, d, b, c, f or g: grillo, trapo, dragón, etc.; also at the end of the syllable: cerdo, beber, cantar, etc.
    The sound erre between two vowels requires of double r: perro, cerro, burro, etc.
  • One single r between vowels sounds ere: pero, cero, mirada, etc.

2 Consonant + consonant + vowel + (vowel) + (consonant)

  • Next syllables follow these patterns:
b, c, f, g, p + r, l + vowel
d, t + r + vowel
bra bre bri bro bru
bla ble bli blo blu
cra cre cri cro cru
cla cle cli clo clu
fra fre fri fro fru
fla fle fli flo flu
gra gre gri gro gru
gla gle gli glo glu
pra pre pri pro pru
pla ple pli plo plu
dra dre dri dro dru
cra cre cri cro cru
  • In Spanish, the words may only end in:
Vowel + r
Vowel + s
Vowel + l
Vowel + n
Vowel + d
Vowel + y
Vowel + z
Vowel

Also some words from Latin ending in m: álbum, currículum, réquiem, ultimátum, etc.

And a limited list of words bear final y: hay, ¡ay!, rey, ley, estoy, doy, caray, hoy, voy, soy, muy, ¡huy!, Paraguay, Alcoy, guirigay, convoy, guay, etc.

3 Two or more syllables

  • In Spanish there are impossible combinations of consonants: nb, np, mv and mm.
  • In case of three intervocalic consonants, the two first gather with the vowel precedent and the third consonant with the vowel that follows: trans-por-tar, ins-pec-tor.

    Exception, if the third letter is r or l: lus-tro, cen-tro, gás-tri-co.

    When four intervocalic consonants appear in a word, the two first are linked to the preceding vowel and the two last to the vowel that follows: abs-trac-to, obs-truir.

4 Cutting words at the end of a line

Words may be cut at the end of a syllable. See former sections.

Mar-
tes
Man-
zana

or
manza
-na
Pe-
rro
Se-
llo
Ins-
tinto
or
instin-
to
He-
cho

Moreover notice these points:

  • A vowel may not be alone at the end of a line.
Incorrect Correct
A-
brigo
Abri-
go
I-
maginación
Ima-
ginación
  • Two vowels (diphthong or hiatus) never appear separated.

See Diphthongs, triphthongs and hiatus

Incorrect Correct
Po-
eta
Poe-
ta
Vací-
o
Va-
cío
  • When a word has a prefix, the word can also be cut at this point.
Des-
esperado
Deses-
perado
Desespera-
do
Súper-
mercado
Consulta más en Orthography

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