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Pronouncing the Spanish L

Letter Has Single Distinct Sound, Not 2 as in English


You may not have noticed, but the "L" in English has two sounds that are quite different from each other — and if you can remember that, you can easily learn the sound of the L in Spanish.

The two "L" sounds occur in the word "little" — and the sound of the Spanish L is basically the same as the first "L" but not the second (a sound, by the way, that native Spanish speakers often find quite difficult). In other words, the Spanish "L" is always pronounced with the tongue at the front of the roof of the mouth similar to the "L" in words such as "love" and "alike." It is never pronounced with the vowel-like sound found in words such as "ball" or "cell."

Phrases used by native speakers in our audio lesson on pronouncing the L are "lo siento mucho," "hola, ¿qué tal?" and "igualmente, gracias."

The pronunciation of the L should not be confused with that of the LL.

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