Letter J – How to pronounce it like a Spanish 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 my Finnish friend Henna trying to pronounce “abajo” in our kitchen, while having a snack. For a few weeks, whenever we met, she tried to get this “jjjj” out of her mouth without any success. It was very funny. Eventually, she gave up. 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] is the symbol of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) that represents the typical sound of the Spanish J and HARD G.

How to say the letter J

The letter J sounds like the HARD G in Spanish. The sound is similar to the English H but raspier. You can produce the sound anywhere in between numbers 8 and 9 on the image below. When you produce it in #8, the sound will be rapier than if you produce it in #9. 
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 Letter J in the South of Spain and most of Latin America (and English H).

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

ja: jara, jamón, caja, aguja. je: jefe, jersey, lenguaje, viaje. ji: jirafa, cojín, ajillo, bajito. jo: jota, jóven, abajo, cojonudo. ju: jugar, judías, adjunto, brújula. Click to see how to pronounce other Spanish consonants.

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