This Spanish Easy Review quiz will challenge you on the letters of the Spanish alphabet. Learning a new language can be extremely exciting and nerve racking all at the same time. Exciting because it’s like going on an adventure and nerve racking because that adventure seems so overwhelming. How can I ever possibly learn a new language? The answer to that is - you learn a new language letter by letter, line by line and precept by precept. In other words, little by little - not in big gulps. You don’t just jump into it. That is why in this series of Spanish Easy Review quizzes, each quiz will be a building block to learning a new language.
What is even more exciting is that you can always revisit the quizzes as a refresher in whatever area you have forgotten or need a little more time on getting a grasp on.
So before we begin, let’s learn a little about the language of Spanish itself. Did you know that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. There are over 470 million people who speak Spanish. That is about 6.15% of the world’s population. On the other hand, English is the third most spoken language with some 360 million people speaking it and 5.43% of the world’s population. If you want to know the number one spoken language in the world, it’s Mandarin (Chinese). Some 955 million people speak it which is equal to 14.4% of the world’s entire population. But focusing back on Spanish – it is the largest growing language which is why it is probably a good idea to learn it – at least to a point that you can communicate on a basic level.
The origin of the Spanish language comes from Latin and began around the 5th century. Between the 13th and 16th centuries, the cities of Toledo and Madrid developed a written standard of Spanish. Now Spanish is the official language in 21 countries. At times, the Spanish language is referred to as Castilian and up to the 15th century, it is known as 'Old Spanish.' After the 16th century up to today, it is referred to as 'Modern Spanish.' It was in the early 16th century that the Spanish language was brought to the Americas (South America, Central America and Mexico).
Just as there are different English dialects spoken in the U.S. from the northern states to the southern states to the western states, so too are there different Spanish dialects. In fact, there are approximately 10 different Spanish dialects. The series of quizzes found here will focus mainly on the Latin American dialect but at times will highlight other dialects to make you aware of how some words will be spoken differently even though they are spelled the same.
So now that you’ve had a very basic introduction into the history of the Spanish language, let’s begin to learn the language! Note that at many times throughout these Spanish quizzes, phonetics will be used to help you with the correct pronunciation of the Spanish words. Now, let’s begin and we always begin a new language at the beginning, i.e. the alphabet.
The Spanish alphabet can be somewhat confusing. That is because you have the traditional alphabet which includes 30 letters. Next you have the more modern, New Spanish alphabet which includes 27 letters. Looking back at the traditional alphabet, there are some countries that do not use one of the letters (rr) and, therefore, claim to have 29 letters. Regardless of whether you learn the traditional alphabet, the New Spanish alphabet or the alphabet of certain countries, Spanish does utilize 30 different letter sounds. The 30 letters consist of the following:
||Pronounced As (phonetically):
||ă (has a short 'a' sound as in the word far)
||ā (has a long 'a' sound)
||hay (in some dialects it is pronounced as 'ge')
||ăchey (or are-chay) (note that there is no hard 'h' sound)
||ē (sounds like a long 'e')
||ele (or el-ay)
||elle (or ā-yā)
||eme (or em-ay)
||ene (or en-ay)
||eñe (or enn-ay) (emphasize a long, stretched out 'n' sound, scrunching up the nose)
||ō (long 'o' sound)
||ere (or ě-ray) (the 'e' is a short sounding 'e')
||erre (or ĕr-ray – roll the 'r' sound with your tongue)
||ese (or like 'essay')
||tā (or tay)
||oo (as in 'boo')
||vay (or in some dialects it is pronounced as 'bay')
As you look at the ñ (Ñ) you will see a funny squiggly line on top of it. This line (~) is called a tilde (pronounced 'til-day'). It means you make the sound of the 'n' harder and sort of scrunch up your nose when doing it. When the N (n) does not have the tilde on top of it, the sound is much softer. We will address the tilde in a separate quiz.
In some countries the 'B' (bay) and the 'V' (vay) have the same sound or, in other words, some Spanish speaking countries pronounce the 'V' like a 'B' and say 'bay' for each letter.
The letter 'c' also can be pronounced differently in different countries. For instance, in Madrid, Spain, the 'c' is given the sound of 'th'. For example, let’s look at the verb to 'say' which is decir in Spanish. To then say, 'you say,' the verb will be written at dice. (Notice the original 'e' in the base verb changed to an 'i'.) The word is pronounced as 'dē-say' but in Madrid it would be pronounced as 'dē-thay'. In one case the 'c' has an 's' sound and in the other instance the 'c' has a 'th' sound. It’s a little confusing but as we will be focusing on Latin American Spanish, we will stick to the 'c' having an 's' sound but it is a good thing to be aware that some Spanish speaking people will give the 'c' the 'th' sound.
That’s it for this introduction. Now it’s time to test yourself to see what you remember. Repeat the alphabet over and over again until you no longer have to look at the letters or their phonetic sound. When you feel comfortable with the alphabet, answer the following ten questions.