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How to pronounce the letter P in Spanish?

The letter P is one of the easiest letters to pronounce in Spanish. It’s always pronounced the same way, [p], that it’s different from the P in pin or pool.

Babies learn how to pronounce this sound very early when parents tell them: «Di papá. Paaapá».

Still, quite many people pronounce it as they’d normally do in English. Sometimes they guess right.

Sometimes they don’t.

Pronunciation of Spanish P

IPA symbol

The IPA represents the sound of the Spanish P with this symbol: [p]. Easy, right?

The sound of Spanish P

It sounds like the letter P in Spanish, spoon or spring.

It doesn’t have the puff of air which characterizes the English P, like in the word penguin.

Normally, most of the Spanish natives will understand if you pronounce the letter P following the English pronunciation rules. They’ll immediately know you’re a guiri though and sometimes it may cause some misunderstandings since the sound [p] in Spanish may be similar to the sound [b] in English.

Fortunately, the pronunciation of the Spanish P is quite simple for English speakers -this sound exists in your mother tongue- and pronouncing it correctly will reduce your foreigner accent a lot.

For example, in English, you’d say differently the letter P in pin and the letter P in spin, while in Spanish, you should pronounce both of them the same way.

Yes, the Spanish P sounds always the same.

Examples of words with the letter P in Spanish

piedra, pino, poder, pronunciación, pimienta, pepino.
áspero, espárrago, aplicar, apetece, aparcar, espera.

Pepe, ¿me pasas la pimienta?
¿Puedes venir, por favor?
Me apetecen pepinillos.

Common misunderstandings with the letter P

When a Spaniard speaks in Spanish and say a word which starts with the letter P (peso, polo, pisado, pino), English natives might think we are saying a word which starts with the sound [b] and the other way around.

As you know, this occurs because the Spanish P sounds closer to English B.
(See how to pronounce the letters B and V in Spanish, and more common misunderstandings).

A Spaniard sais/understands… An English native understands/sais…
Peso Beso
Polo Bolo
Pisado Visado
Pino Vino
A Spaniard sais/understands… An English native understands/sais…
Pill Bill
Pet Bet
Pen Ben
Pitch Bitch

Other letters which are aspirated in English but not in Spanish. (Some may cause misunderstandings in each other’s language):

  • The Spanish K
  • The Spanish Q
  • The Spanish C when it’s hard.

(The 3 of them may sound similar to an English [g]).

  • The Spanish T.
  • The Spanish R (this one isn’t an aspirated letter but -when it’s soft- might cause misunderstandings too because it sounds more like an American English D or double T (like in butter)).

See how to pronounce other consonants in Spanish.

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