Spanish - The Basics: Silent Killers

Updated: Jan 28

Hola Todos!

I won’t say it again, since you should know by now what that means, so I’ll talk about what we’re going to learn today. We’re moving on from accents, to the silent and weird sounding letters. These are: G, J, and H. These are the ones that don’t sound like themselves sometimes.

What Do You Mean?

Ok, so today’s lesson is going to be different than the last one, because it’ll be easier this way. I’ll show you some examples, and without reading the rest of this article, I want you to try and pronounce these words. If you already know how to pronounce them, then what are you doing here? You can try working with other language websites if you want. If you don’t, don’t worry, we’ll go through them step-by-step.

So, here are the examples:

Juego (“game”, or “I play”)

Gente (“people”)

Hasta (“Until”)

Hogar (“Home”)

Jamon (“Ham”)

Did you say them out loud? Ok, so here’s the way you pronounce them. Try to keep up, because it’s difficult to explain without actually having audio.

Juego = hu-eh-goh

Gente = hen-teh

Hasta = ah-stah

Hogar = oh-gar

Jamon = ham-on

Weird right? The J and the G, in these situations sound like an H, but their H has no sound whatsoever! But remember, when you say the J and G, you need to make it a hard “H”, basically let your tongue roll at the back of the throat while saying the H (I told you, it’s difficult to explain without audio files to help). If you want to understand pronunciation better, take a look at some YouTube guides, I’m sure they’ll be able to help you.

Why Does It Do That?

In all honesty, I have no idea. I’m not a linguist, and I haven’t researched enough into the history of the language to know why it does what it does, but it does…ok, that’s a bit vague.

Basically, I don’t know.

What I do know is that you have to be careful of these “silent killers” as I call them because they crop up in conversation, even if it’s a simple one. For example, “Hay mucho gente” means “there is a lot of people”. If you’re friends with someone impatient, then they might say this as a complaint. Now, if you read the sentence you might thing “hay” is “hay” like a haystack, but in Spanish, it sounds more like an “I” or “Ay”.

That’s why you need to be careful when reading Spanish, and saying these words out loud, because while it might make sense to you to say the letter, a native speaker might wonder if you’re not speaking in Portuguese, because these are two very different languages.

Let's Try Another One

Now, J and H are pretty self-explanatory, they’re always pronounced that way, but G is a different story. There are two forms of G, there’s the “G” that sounds like an “H” and there’s the “G” that sounds like a hard “G”.

Let me show you.

As you saw before, “gente” sounds like “hen-teh”, but in the previous post, you have the word “guitarra”, where the “G” sounds like a hard “G”, so the word “guitarra” sounds like “gi-tar-rah”. These are two very different instances. Now, most of the time, “G” sounds like a hard “G” but when “G” is in front of an “E”, then it becomes an “H” sound.

So, that’s why you have words like “gente”. Ok, let’s see if you got that right. Try saying…


I know it looks like “angel” in the English vocabulary, but I promise you, it is a completely different pronunciation.

Did you get it?

Angel = An-hel

See, that’s not so bad is it?

Homework Time!

Ok, so once again, you need to practice. Look up some basic Spanish words, don’t worry about the meaning yet, we’ll come to that in time, but just try to pronounce them. It’ll get easier in time to understand, but that’s why you practice. Speaking of practice, try pronouncing this word…


I’ll tell you how it’s pronounced next time. If you cheat, that’s fine. At least you know how it sounds. If you don’t, well done! You guys deserve a cookie!

Well, that’s it for now. I better see your homework the next time we practice Español! I’ll see you then.

With love,

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