There are quite a number of names of places that English speakers seem to get wrong all the time! Mexico is one of them… but of course there are many more!

Have you heard that, for a person, the sweetest sound is their own name pronounced... correctly, obviously! So, when you pronounce the name of a country or a city correctly, you come across as thoughtful and caring. Please do it!  

En este artículo vas a aprender (in this article you will learn) how to properly pronounce 18 places in Latin America that are commonly mispronounced. If YOU’ve been pronouncing one of these places wrong, let me know in the comments!

1. Colombia

This country’s name is NOT Columbia. Columbia is an Ivy League University in New York. 

The country of Gabriel García Márquez and Vallenato is COLOMBIA. 

I’ve seen this mistake in movies, series, everywhere. ¡Esto tiene que parar! (This has gotta stop!)


  • BOGOTÁ is pronounced as BO-GO-TA, not [BO-ga-tah]! 
  • MEDELLÍN is [meh-deh-JEEN] instead of [MEH-dah-lin]
  • BARRANQUILLA is [bah-ran-KEY-ya] rather than [bah-ran-kwil-a]

2. México 

Letter X in Spanish can have many sounds. Sometimes it sounds like it does in English, but sometimes it sounds like letter J or letter S. This happens because many words in (Mexican) Spanish come from indigenous languages where the X has such sound.

A few places in México that are often mispronounced include: 

  • Oaxaca
  • Quintana Roo
  • Tijuana

3. Argentina 

Remember that letter G in Spanish may sound like letter H when there is an E or an I after it, as is the case in ArGentina. 

So, we say [Ar-HEN-ti-na] rather then [Ar-Jen-ti-na] 

Similarly, refrain from saying:

  • [cor-DOE-bah] to refer to CÓRDOBA
  • [BWEH-nose air-ees] to refer to BUENOS AIRES, which literally means “good airs”

4. Cuba

We say [CU-ba] not [CUE-ba], which happens to be a drink as well —its ingredients are rum and coke! 

Similarly, it’s [A-bah-nah] not [Ja-va-na]. —¡Recuerda que la hache es muda! (Remember that letter H is silent in Spanish).

Additionally, we say ONDURAS rather than Jonduras and AITÍ not Haiti. 

5. Anything with the word PUERTO 

Let’s practice with these three:

  • Puerto Vallarta —Remember the double L is pronounced as J.
  • Puerto Escondido —Remember the D sound is like in Dentist.
  • Puerto Rico 

FREE Spanish Training

¡Muy bien! Now you know how to correctly pronounce names of places in Latin America that are often mispronounced! This would be super useful when you’re traveling, when you meet a person from that place, or just in general to show off how great your Spanish pronunciation is! 

If you want to get serious about learning Spanish, but want to stay away from grammar drills, you should check out our free Spanish Training! By doing so, you’ll discover our conversation-based chunking method.

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