Letter J in Spanish – How to pronounce it like a native

The sound of the Spanish J doesn’t exist in lots of languages, included English.

That’s why (apart from the obvious trilled R) some people find the letter J one of the most difficult letters to pronounce like a Spanish native.

I remember (it was 2013), my Finnish friend Henna trying to pronounce “abajo” in our kitchen, while we were having a snack. For a few weeks, whenever we met, she tried to get this “jjjj” out of her mouth without any success.

For me and my flat mate it was very funny.

However, not all Spaniards pronounce it in the same way and with the same intensity so, if you are one of those people who have trouble producing the typical sound of the letter J, don’t worry because I have good news for you.

IPA symbol

[X]

How to say the letter J [X] 

The letter J sounds like the HARD G in Spanish (the sound is similar to the English H but raspier).

The sound [X] can be produced anywhere in between numbers 8 and 9 on the image below.

If you produce the sound as #8 shows or put your tonge very close to your palate, the sound will be raspier [X] than if you produce as in #9 or with the tongue far away from the palate [h]. 

how to pronounce Spanish G J H pronunciation letter throat tongue like a native vs English
#8 corresponds to the sound of HARD G and J [X].  #9 English H, and Letter J in the South of Spain and most of Latin America.

Tips to pronounce the letter J in Spanish

  • Pronounce the English H but lift your tongue a little bit, just as if you were going to pronounce the letter K.
  • Or you can simply pronounce it like a strong English H, as they do in the south of Spain or in Latin America.

Examples of words with the letter J

caja, traje, cojín, abajo, jugar

More examples of words with J:

ja: jara, jamón, teja, aguja.
je: jefe, jersey, lenguaje, viaje.
ji: jirafa, Jiménez, ajillo, bajito.
jo: jota, joven, trajo, cojonudo.
ju: juntos, judías, adjunto, brújula.

Click to see how to pronounce other Spanish consonants.

1 mistake (almost) everybody do every day they practice their Spanish,
that is preventing them from having a good pronunciation and connect with natives

And what to do instead

8 minutes and 57 seconds, and you can start doing the same from today, if you want.