Languages › Spanish Pronouncing the K and Q Pronunciation Similar to that of English Share Flipboard Email Print Spanish Pronunciation History & Culture Vocabulary Writing Skills Grammar By Gerald Erichsen Spanish Language Expert B.A., Seattle Pacific University Gerald Erichsen is a Spanish language expert who has created Spanish lessons for ThoughtCo since 1998. our editorial process Gerald Erichsen Updated April 27, 2017 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.