I’m Juan Rojas. Not Rohas, not Rohas (with English r). Rojas. And today you’re also going to learn how to stop butchering 10 other Spanish last names, and pronounce them all correctly!
Let’s see if you can pronounce this one:
Sí, lo sé (Yes, I know): Rolling your Spanish ‘r’ can be difficult, and it might take some practice to master, and you’re probably saying Roudrigueis, but the right way to pronounce this last name is Rodríguez. As in Michelle Rodríguez.
Now you try it: Ro-drí-guez. Roll those R’s, come on…
So you think saying Feurnandeis is the right way, huh? Think again: Fer – nán – dez. Fernández. Also, notice that there’s an accent mark in the ‘a’, so stress that syllable: Fernández. As in the popular rancheras Mexican singer, Vicente Fernández.
Repeat after me: Mar – tí – nez. Martínez. Awesome last name that also happens to be my second last name. Can’t go wrong with Martínez.
The correct way to pronounce this last name is Ra – mí – rez. Ramirez. Like the Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramírez. Now you try it.
You probably know singer Selena Gomez, but you might be surprised with how her last name is correctly pronounced, and that is Gó – mez. Gómez. Look at her now.
Why do Spanish last names end with -ez?
By the way, did you notice these first 5 last names all end with -ez? You’ll soon notice that’s very frequent with Spanish surnames.
This is because in ancient Spain, your last name would likely be your father’s name plus the suffix -ez:
¿Tu papá se llama Fernando? Entonces tú eres Fernández. Ah, ¿eres la hija de Martín? Entonces tu apellido es Martínez. (Is your dad’s name Fernando? Then you are Fernández. Oh, you’re the daughter of Martín? Then your last name is Martínez).
The origin is kind of a mystery, but some experts think it comes from the Euskera dialect in the Iberian Peninsula and others think it’s a Visigothic heritage suffix that means “in possession of”.
Another great opportunity to practice your Spanish r’s: To-rres. Not Toures, Torres. Try it out yourself! Por cierto (by the way): this means towers in Spanish.
CHUNK ALERT: Por cierto is a great chunk to combine two ideas and sound very natural, so whenever you have an additional fact or idea you want to add to the conversation, use this chunk.
¡Por cierto! (by the way), if you want more chunks to learn by heart and bypass grammar rules, just go to the link in the description and download our Essential Spanish Chunking Kit! See? I just gave you an example on how to use it!
Por cierto, this actually also means ‘thin’ in Spanish! Del – ga – do is actually a surname in Spanish as well.
Also, remember that we pronounce the letter ‘d’ in Spanish in only one way, similar to dice in English. So it’s not Delgarou, it’s Delgado. Repeat after me: Delgado!
If I had a Bolívar for every time I hear some gringo saying Bolivaur instead of Bo – lí – var… Well, I wouldn’t have much because Venezuelan money is worthless right now, but the point is, Bolívar is a very important last name for Latin Americans, since one of the most important characters in the independence process of many South American countries is the Venezuelan Liberator, Simón Bolívar. That’s also the name of the Venezuelan currency.
Funny how stressing the wrong syllable can change the meaning of a last name because this particular one is not pronounced Coulon, it’s Co – lón, you know, like that Spaniard dude Cristóbal Colón or Christopher Columbus, or the salsero Willie Colón. Now it’s your turn to try it!
In English, having a double l normally sounds like magellan, or million, but in Spanish it sounds like the ‘y’ in ‘you’ but harder, so this last name is actually pronounced Cas – ti – llo. Castillo. You try it! That’s also a word for castle in Spanish.
Meaning ‘blonde’ in Spanish, this is another last name where you need to roll your ‘r’ like a native to pronounce it correctly: Ru – bio. Not Roubiou, Rrrubio!
Just so you understand how important it is to roll your r’s in Spanish, this one is not pronounced Gurrerou, it’s Gue – rre – ro. Guerrero. It also means ‘warrior’ in Spanish. Cool last name, right?
Another last name that actually has a meaning, Mo-re-no, Moreno, means “dark skinned or brunette” in Spanish.
Sounds weird, I know, but the correct pronunciation is A – gui – le – ra. Aguilera. Do not pronounce the ‘u’ in it. This also means something like “a bunch of eagles”.
You’re probably used to saying Jeurreirai because of this famous Venezuelan fashion designer, but remember that en español, la H es muda (in Spanish, the H is silent) so pronounce it He – rre – ra. Herrera. Just imagine telling your friends Sí claro, yo conozco el trabajo de Carolina Herrera. (Yes of course, I know the work of Carolina Herrera.) Dude, you’ll sound like you’re well versed in the Latin world of fashion, I guarantee it!