What sound do you use for ‘LL’ and ‘Y’ in Spanish?

The short answer is, they usually sound the same as the beginning of the word ‘jar’.

Now, the more complete answer:

The statement above applies to most of the Spanish-speaking world, but not all of it. In Argentina and Uruguay (specially in the areas around Buenos Aires and Montevideo), the sound associated with these letters is different, more like the first sound in the word ‘share’.

There are a few regions, however, where native speakers pronounce the ‘LL’ in a slightly different way than ‘Y’, giving it a softer sound. This difference is so minimal that I don’t think a foreign speaker would notice it… I’m not even sure native speakers would notice them all the time, especially if they grew up in a place where this difference doesn’t exist!

Keep in mind that the letter ‘Y’ can also represent the starting sound in the word ‘eat’. For example, in the phrase “Perros y gatos” (cats and dogs).



    • I’m glad you find it useful, Tamara.
      I would dare to say, pronunciation is a difficult point for most people when learning a foreign language. I wish more language schools paid special attention to it in their classes.

  1. Luis, I totally agree with your comment on pronunciation. I’ve worked in the school system here in the U.S. as an ELL tutor. It seems people always want to gloss over the pronunciation as if it’s not all that important, but I don’t see how it isn’t! If you don’t understand the pronunciation, how will you get what they’re saying? Knowing the rules of pronunciation helped me to understand my Latino students better, too. Example: There was a little Puerto Rican girl in the 3rd grade who, every time there was a spelling test with the words “there,” “their,” or “they’re,” she would always write “dear.” I’m sure the 3rd grade teacher was confused by that. However, because I understood the phonetics of the Spanish Language, I knew why she did it, and I was able to work on her pronunciation from that knowledge. Another example (a kind of funny one): This one involves another 3rd-grader I was working with (again, from Puerto Rico). It was around Thanksgiving of that year, and the teacher had given them an assignment to write things they like to do in the Fall. This little girl wrote that she liked to “jump in the leaves,” but when she read it out loud to me, she said, “I like to hump in the leaves.” It was all I could do to keep a straight face. I explained that we wouldn’t say it that way, and that somebody might think something different with that pronunciation (I didn’t tell her what, of course! 😀 ), but I had to explain that “j” has a different sound in English. 🙂 Anyway, I really do think that understanding pronunciation and phonetics is important in breaking down language barriers. (Sorry for the book; you know me! Ja ja! 😉 ).

    • I honestly think the best way to learn a foreign language is by starting with pronunciation (not necessarily associating it with writing at the beginning, but focusing on the sounds).
      And those anecdotes made me laugh out loud, especially the last one! Kids are the best, aren’t they?

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