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Spanish Sentence Rhythm and Intonation

In your quest to learn how to speak Spanish you’ll find that syllables and sentences are spoken differently than in English. The length of syllables in Spanish stay mostly the same whether stressed or unstressed.

When speaking a Spanish sentence, link all the words together to form a continuous sound. There are four rules to sentence linking that I’ll discuss now.

Note: Following the written lesson, there is a short video of examples, below.

  1. A word ending in a consonant with the following word beginning in a vowel are pronounced together:
  2. Carlos entiende sounds like Car-lo-sen-tien-de

  3. The last vowel in a word is combined with a first vowel in the following word (three vowels combine together as well–see the lesson on Spanish vowels for an explanation):
  4. tu escuela sounds like tues-cue-la
    lluvia y nieve sounds like llu-viay-nie-ve

  5. When one word ends and the next begins, with the same vowel, pronounce them a bit longer than the single vowel:
  6. tiene eso sounds like tie-n e -so

  7. Combine two of the same consonants to form one slightly longer sound:
  8. ¿tienes sueño? sounds like ¿tie-ne- s ue-ño?

In general, the degree of loudness–pitch–in a Spanish statement follows this rule: start low, raise higher on the first stressed syllable, return to original pitch on the last stressed syllable, then drop the pitch slightly at the end.

With that said, there is a wide variation in intonation between Spanish speaking countries and regions. While you’re learning how to speak Spanish, don’t worry about intonation too much…at first. Pay attention to Spanish speakers and you’ll get the hang of it.

Watch: Learn Spanish Sentence Rhythm Video


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Did you find this lesson on Spanish sentence rhythm and intonation helpful? Do you see an…ugh…error? Please leave a comment (or question)–I try to answer questions promptly.