Double letters in Spanish – Master Spanish spelling
Podcast episode 20 – SEE ALL EPISODES
Today’s question comes from Tim, one of my Twitter followers.
He recently sent me a message asking: “Are there many double letters in Spanish? For example, are there many Spanish words with a double T or a double F? I don’t seem to have come across them.”
See also: Maria’s step-by-step Spanish courses.
And Tim is right. Double letters are fairly rare in Spanish. And the Spanish spelling rules help a lot here.
Double letters in Spanish: overview
There are only four consonants that can be doubled up in Spanish: c – r – l – n.
Think of the word: Caroline. The consonants in the word Caroline are the only consonants that can be doubled up in Spanish: c – r – l – n.
For example, we’ve got the Spanish words:
acción – action
perro – dog
pollo – chicken
innecesario – unnecessary
So, c – r – l – n, the consonants in the word Caroline are the only consonants that can be doubled up in Spanish.
Double letters in Spanish: pronunciation tips
Notice how the pronunciation of these double consonants is quite different from the pronunciation of the single consonants.
The double C in acción has a KC sound: acción.
Notice the difference between the CC in acción and the C in: acero – steel.
Notice the difference between:
polo – lollipop and pollo – chicken
Notice the difference between the double R in perro and the single R in: pero – but. Pero, perro.
And, finally, notice the difference between the single N in: inestable – unstable
and the double N in innecesario – unnecessary. Inestable, innecesario.
Double letters in Spanish: similarities
There are many words in English with a double D, F, T, S that look very similar in Spanish. But in Spanish those words always have a single consonant. For example:
profesor – professor
oficial – official
desaparecer – to disappear
asociación – association
atención – attention
All those words are spelt with a single consonant in Spanish.
Double letters in Spanish: MM > NM
What about the double M? Words that are spelt with a double M in English and look similar in Spanish are spelt with an NM in Spanish. For example: immense in English has a double M and is: inmenso, in Spanish. With an NM: inmenso.
As you may know, the Spanish spelling rules only apply to Spanish words. Words borrowed from other languages can be spelt with double consonants other than those in the word: Caroline.
For example, we have:
puzzle – jigsaw puzzle
pizza – pizza
hobby – hobby
Double letters in Spanish: vowels
So far we’e only looked at the consonants. But the vowels can also be doubled up in Spanish. For example, we’ve got:
creer – to believe
leer – to read
contraataque – counterattack
cooperar – to cooperate
el zoo – the zoo
Double letters in Spanish: recap
To recap, the only four consonants that can be doubled up in Spanish are those in the English word: Caroline. C – r – l – n.
This should make Spanish spelling a lot easier.
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