Finally Master the LL & Y in Spanish: How are they pronounced?

Finally Master the Spanish LL & Y: How are they pronounced?

here to watch the video

AMERICAN
Okay my amigos latinos, I hope you’re hungry because this American is making an Spanish Paella!

MEXICAN
Una paela? ¡Ahh wey estás hablando de una Paella!
(A paella? Oh dude you’re talking about a Paella!)

BOLIVIAN
No no, creo que se refiere a una Paella.
(No no, I think he’s referring to a Paella)

ARGENTINEAN
Ah, vos decís una Paella, no ché? 
(Oh, you’re talking about a Paella, right dude?)

If you’re new to the use of LL and Y and how Spanish speaking natives pronounce them, this conversation probably made little sense for you. Spoiler alert: ¡Todos están hablando de la misma palabra! (They’re all the same word!)

I’m Juan from Spring Spanish and today I’ll teach you the differences between LL and Y, and how we pronounce them all over Latin America, así que llégate ya!

¿Or is it shegate sha? Let’s just start…

¿Cómo se pronuncian la Y y la LL? (How are Y and LL pronounced?)

In most of the Spanish Speaking world, the Y and LL are pronounced the same. And the sound is just like the J in Joe. Repeat after me:

  • yo, (I)
  • yegua, (female horse)
  • llegamos. (we arrived)
  • llámame.(Call me) 

So most of the differences are in cómo se usan en el español escrito (how they’re used in written Spanish). 

However, if you ever visit Argentina or Uruguay, you’ll notice they have a very particular way to pronounce it. So instead of Yo, It’s sho, Yegua is pronounced shegua. Llámame is shamame. The sound is pretty similar to the sh sound in most of the English words, like shoe or shadow. Let’s see some examples:

 ACTOR 1
Hola, buen día. Vengo a la entrevista.
(Hello, good morning. I come for the interview)

ACTOR 2
Ah, acabás de llegar, ¿no? Pasá al sillón amarillo. ¿Cómo te llamás?
(Oh, you just arrived, right? Sit on the yellow couch. What’s your name?)

ACTOR 1
Yo me llamo Juan. Mucho gusto.
(My name is Juan. Nice to meet you)

ACTOR 2
Hola Juan, yo soy Gino. Un gusto también.
(Hello Juan, I’m Gino. Nice to meet you, too.)

Find this pronunciation challenge too easy for you? Well, check this video and find out about other 5 sounds in Spanish that you won’t find in other languages!

As an interesting and not so common fact, there are some regions in Ecuador, Bolivia and Perú where they pronounce the LL like an L followed by a Y, like this:

  • Llamar (to call)
  • Cebolla (Onion)
  • Cepillo (Brush)

Again, this is not very common but it is an interesting fact that will surprise your latino friends. Want to impress your latino friends even more? Entonces entra al link en la descripción (then click on the link on the description) because you will get a free chunking kit with a lot of information to start speaking Spanish, right away!

Okay, ya sabemos las diferencias de pronunciación. Pero en Español escrito, (okay, now we know the pronunciation differences. But in written Spanish,

¿Cómo se usan la LL y la Y? (How are LL and Y used in written Spanish?)

There are many rules and exceptions around the use of LL and Y, but here are some of the basics.

¿Cuándo usar Y? (When to use Y?)

When conjugating the ing form of a verb that ends in  -aer, -eer, -uir:

  • Contribuir – contribuyendo (to Contribute)
  • Distribuir – distribuyendo (to distribute)
  • Construir – construyendo (to build)
  • Destruir – destruyendo (to destroy)
  • Leer -Leyendo (to read)
  • Poseer – Poseyendo (To possess)
  • Caer – Cayendo (To fall)
  • Contraer – Contrayendo (To contract)

Remember: El español es un idioma muy extenso y complejo (Spanish is a very extensive and complex language) So these are only some rules. Do you know other words written with Y? Know how to use them? ¡Muéstrame en los comentarios! (show me in the comments!)

¿Cuándo usar LL? (When to use LL?)

Words that end in -illo, illa:

  • Cepillo (brush)
  • Maravilla (wonder)
  • Palillo (stick)
  • Vainilla (Vanilla)

Also, words that end in ello, ella, alle and elle:

  • Muelle (Dock)
  • Calle (Street)
  • Bello (Beautiful)
  • Camello (Camel)
  •  Aquella (That)
  •  Sello (Seal)

Be mindful though: There are words that are written the same but depending if they have Y or LL they mean different things:

ACTOR 1 *receives a message and writes on the cheese*
“Juan, ¿puedes traerme el queso que está en la nevera? ¿Puedes rayarlo porfa? ¡Gracias!”
(Juan, can you bring me the cheese that’s in the fridge? And can you write on it please? Thanks!)

ACTOR 1 *receives a message and grates the cheese*
“Juan, ¿puedes traerme el queso que está en la nevera? ¿Puedes rallarlo porfa? ¡Gracias!”
(Juan, can you bring me the cheese that’s in the fridge? And can you grate it please? Thanks!)

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