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How to Pronounce the Letters B and V in Spanish

Posted in: Language Learning, Living in Ecuador

Confused about how to pronounce the letters B and V in Spanish? In this post, you’ll learn the difference and how to pronounce each one.

How to pronounce the B and V in Spanish

How to Pronounce the Letters B & V in Spanish

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Correctly Pronounce the Letters B and V in Spanish

In Spanish, the letters “b” and “v” can be confusing to us native English-speakers. They sound very similar and can confuse even fluent Spanish speakers.

To help you differentiate between the two letters, your Spanish friends and teacher might use the following designations to help you know if a word is spelled with a b or a v.

B in Spanish

Here are three ways to identify the letter “b” in Spanish:

  • be grande: big b
  • be alta: tall b
  • be de burro: b as in burro (donkey)

V in Spanish

And here are three ways to identify the letter “v” in Spanish:

  • ve corta: short v
  • ve chica: little v
  • ve de vaca: v as in vaca (cow)

When a word starts with either b or v there can be a noticeable difference. But when it’s in the middle of a word, it can be harder to differentiate. Generally speaking, the b in Spanish is long (hard) and the v is short (soft).

Spanish Words with B

  1. Burro
  2. Besar
  3. Bigote
  4. Cambiar
  5. Emborracharse
  6. Embobado

Spanish Words with V

  1. Vaca
  2. Vanidad
  3. Vela
  4. Convenir
  5. Envidia
  6. Enviar

The most important thing to remember about pronouncing the Spanish b and v is that in standard Spanish they are pronounced exactly alike. Although English makes a clear distinction in how the two letters are pronounced, Spanish does not. The sound of the English “v” such as in the word “victory” does not exist in standard Spanish. – spanish.about.com

The letters b and v are so similar in Spanish that many native speakers use them interchangeably when writing – committing frequent spelling mistakes. This can make things very confusing to a new Spanish learner.

In researching this post, I read that researchers looked at the sound-waves of both b and v as spoken by native Spanish speakers – and the patterns couldn’t be told apart.

More Spanish Learning

Your Turn

Do you have any tips or suggestions in Spanish pronunciation? Have you made any funny mistakes?

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

2 comments… add one
  • Larry Nov 24, 2016, 3:46 pm

    Thanks for the blog. Ana is a great teacher, very funny and very cute.

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