Diphthongs, triphthongs and hiatos, Spanish phonetic (A2)

Diphthongs in SpanishDo you know what are DIPHTHONGS? Because in this lesson we will learn how to pronounce correctly when there are two or more vowels in the same syllable, as you probably have already noticed happens very often in Spanish. First look at the example on the right the difference between a syllable and a diphthong, for example.

Diphthongs in Spanish words

Diphthongs (diptongos in Spanish) are a combination of one strong (a, e, o) and one weak vowel (i, u), or of two weak vowels. Diphthongs are counted as one syllable. It may not be separated unless the weak vowel bears a written accent called “tilde”:

   ai, ay aire, haypronounce like “eye”
    ei, ey reino, leypronounce like “may”
   oi, oy oigo, hoypronounce like “toy”
   iu triunfo, ciudadpronounce like “you”
   ui, uy cuidar, muypronounce like “Louie”
   ue hueso, muertepronounce like “west”
   au jaula, Paulapronounce like “now”
   eu feudal, reumapronounce like “eh + oo”
   ia estudiamospronounce like “yacht”
   ie miel, quieropronounce like “ye”
   ua cuatro, mensualpronounce like “watt”
   uo cuota, antiguopronounce like “quota”

Notice that many Spanish irregular verbs have diphthongs: quiero, siento, duermo, juego…

What is a triphthong?

The combination of a stressed strong vowel between two weak vowels that forms a single syllable is a triphthong (triptongo in Spanish). There are only four possible combinations of triphthongs in In Spanish:

   iai estudiáispronounce like “yipe”
   iei estudiéispronounce like “yea”
   uai (uay) continuáis, Paraguaypronounce like “wine”
   uei (uey) continuéis, bueypronounce like “wade”


How to break a diphthong or triphthong

If the weak vowel is stressed, there is a separation called hiato, these are not diphthongs: ca-í-da, dí-a, rí-en, Ma-rí-a, tí-os, re-í-mos, re-ú-ne…

It also an hiato when the combination of two strong vowels is separated: ca-e-mos, re-a-li-dad, le-en, em-ple-o, a-e-ro-pla-no…

diphthongues, triphthongs and hiatos in Spanish

Pronouncing vowels correctly in Spanish is extremely important and not always easy, so I am leaving you a video below that will be very helpful but remember that practise makes perfect and by repeating you will get your goals.

Practice diphthongs and triphthongs exercises

Now we are going to practice everything with an exercise, just listen and write the word in the crossword, all of them have diphthongs or triphthongs. Remember to contact your tutor if you have any question. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor online yet? You can also leave us a message if you want we prepare more activities about Spanish phonetic and pronunciation.

Spanish vowels & diphthongs video

Spanish pronunciation is not difficult but needs some practice, listen and repeat as much as you can this video.

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