Pronouncing the K and Q

Pronunciation Similar to that of English

The letters "Q" and "K"

The Spanish k is pronounced basically the same as it usually is in English, except perhaps a bit softer, often something like the "c" in "scatter."

The q is pronounced the same. As in English, the Spanish q is always followed by a u except in a very few words of foreign origin. Spanish is even more particular in the sequences in which the q is used: the qu is always followed by by an e or an i, and the u is silent. Thus que is pronounced something like "keh" would be in English and quien is pronounced something like "kyen."

The sound is also the same as the c sound except when the c precedes an e or i.

In order to maintain the correct pronunciation, the Spanish cognates of English words with "qua" or "quo" are often spelled with a c in Spanish instead. Thus the Spanish word for "quartz" is cuarzo, and the word for "quota" is cuota.

The k is rare in Spanish, used almost exclusively for words of foreign origin such as kilo and kayak.

In the audio lesson on pronouncing the k and q sounds you will hear the phrase "qué tal" and the number quince spoken by native speakers.

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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Pronouncing the K and Q." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Erichsen, Gerald. (2023, April 5). Pronouncing the K and Q. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Pronouncing the K and Q." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).