How To Pronounce 10 Difficult Spanish Words [With Audio!] (2023)

How To Pronounce 10 Difficult Spanish Words [With Audio!] (1)

November 6, 2022 by Luis F. Dominguez Spanish Vocabulary 0 comments

There are some difficult Spanish words that are hard to pronounce for a new learner of the language. However, all you need to do is to learn a few tricks to deal with each of them and master their pronunciation.

Keep reading to learn why it’s so important to have a good Spanish pronunciation, which words are the 10 hardest to pronounce in Spanish, and some ways to solve the pronunciation issues with online resources included.

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How To Pronounce 10 Difficult Spanish Words [With Audio!] (2)

The Importance of Good Spanish Pronunciation

Learning a new language implies much more than just learning the vocabulary and grammar rules, it requires developing a series of skills that usually are divided in four main areas:

  • Speaking
  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing

Each area has its own importance and presents a wide array of challenges. Learning how to pronounce Spanish words is one of the main speaking skills. Because you can speak Spanish, but if you want to speak it the right way, you need to focus on perfecting your pronunciation.

In order to achieve that, learning how to pronounce difficult Spanish words can help you a lot.

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How To Pronounce 10 of the Most Difficult Spanish Words

The following is a list of difficult Spanish words for English speakers that I’ve put together thinking of the hardest sounds to pronounce in the Spanish language.

1. Ferrocarril

Among hard Spanish words, ferrocarril or “railway” has a special place. So much so that Spanish-speaking people use it to teach little children how to pronounce the hard r sound of the rr. I’ve actually written a specific post just about this sound and that of the soft r.

If you want to master the pronunciation of difficult Spanish words with r and rr, my recommendation is to learn and repeat this tongue twister:

Erre con erre cigarro
Erre con erre barril
Erre con erre
Ruedan las ruedas
Del ferrocarril.

How To Pronounce 10 Difficult Spanish Words [With Audio!] (5)

2. Espantapájaros

Espantapájaros or “scarecrow” is one of those difficult Spanish words to pronounce where the difficulty comes from the repeated consonants and the unusually high number of vowels with different accentuation.

In this case, learning about the sounds of the 5 Spanish vowels help pronounce Spanish words. Another good tip is to take it slowly and go syllable by syllable first, as in es – pan – ta – pá – ja – ros. Once you get each syllable right, then just try to say the whole word faster.

3. Agujero

Agujero or “hole” is among these 10 difficult Spanish words due to its mix of the g and j sounds. In Spanish, the j is a funny letter and one of the most difficult sounds to pronounce for English speakers.

I always say to my students that it sounds like the English “h” in words such as “heat” or “hot,” but with an exaggerated pronunciation, almost like if you were about to spit. Not the nicer image, I know, but one that my students never forget.

4. Aeropuerto

I like to call aeropuerto or “airport,” “the ultimate Spanish vowel word” because it has so many of them and serves as a pronunciation lab for new learners of the language.

Spanish has a few hard-to-master grammar concepts, however vowels aren’t one of them. Learn their sound and they will always sound like that, Spanish vowels don’t have different sounds like in other languages such as English.

How To Pronounce 10 Difficult Spanish Words [With Audio!] (6)

5. Desarrolladores

A few hard to pronounce Spanish words include different of the most difficult sounds in the Spanish language. That’s the case with desarrolladores or “developers,” which has the hard r and the double l, and the “deceitful d.”

The good thing about this word is that the syllables are easy to separate and you can just try the same trick you used for espantapájaros and go syllable by syllable until you master the pronunciation.

6. Ronronear

Ronronear or “to purr” may be one of the most difficult verbs to pronounce in Spanish. It includes two hard r sounds, one soft r, and one vowel pair, which in this case is known as hiatus in Spanish.

You can read this guide for Diphthongs, Triphthongs, and Hiatus to get a better idea how to deal with these vowel pairs, but basically the pronunciation of the ea hiatus sounds as ay-ah.

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7. Vergüenza

Vergüenza means “shame” and its main difficulty are those strange-looking points on top of the u called diéresis or “umlaut.” The diéresis indicates you have to pronounce the u between the g and the e (which usually is silent).

Take a look at the link above about diphthongs to learn how to pronounce the ue sound, which sounds basically as the English “way.”

8. Ornitorrinco

This weird animal also has a weird name. Ornitorrinco means “platypus,” and its difficulty resides in its hard r and the several o it includes. However, by now you’re an expert in these sounds and should have no problem pronouncing this word.

9. Europeo

Europeo means “European” and it’s among the most difficult Spanish words to pronounce because in English there is no equivalent for the sound eu. The closest you can get to that is the expression “eww,” but even after that you still have to consider the eo hiatus at the end of the word which sounds like ay-oh.

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10. Paragüas

Paragüas or “umbrella” includes diéresis but also a soft r and soft g sounds. However, if you know the sounds of each syllable, this is one of those words that you should simply pronounce slowly and you’ll be alright.

Practice Your Pronunciation and Improve Your Spanish

These are 10 of the most difficult Spanish words to pronounce and you’re ready to practice them and improve your Spanish. Remember to pronounce Spanish words slowly and memorize a few tongue twisters to help you with the pronunciation.

Learning Spanish offers many benefits, among which is getting phenomenal jobs and making more money. If your pronunciation is good, those benefits are even more likely.

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Luis F. Domínguez is a freelance writer and independent journalist interested in travel, languages, art, books, history, philosophy, politics and sports. He has written for Fodor’s, Yahoo!, Sports Illustrated, Telemundo, and Villa Experience, among other brands of print and digital media in Europe and North America.

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