Top 50 Hard Spanish Words to Pronounce + Tongue Twisters With Audio

Are you a Spanish language learner or someone eager to improve their pronunciation skills?

Then you should look no further than this blog post, dedicated to the top 50 hard Spanish words to pronounce.

To enhance your pronunciation to match that of a native speaker and extend your camouflage, watch this video where Spring Languages (a project I’m a co-founder) teacher, Mariana covers 15 commonly mispronounced Spanish words by English native speakers.

Below, you will find not only English translations of these 50 hard-to-pronounce words but also audio recordings that will directly help your pronunciation – complete with examples showing when and how each word is used in conversation!

1. Top 20 hardest words to pronounce in Spanish

hard spanish words, happy cheerful smiley fingers looking at mixture or flying letters
  1. Desarrollador – Developer
  2. Murciélago – Bat
  3. Refrigerador – Refrigerator
  4. Paralelepípedo – Parallelepiped
  5. Fisioculturismo – Bodybuilding
  6. Reconocimiento – Recognition
  7. Equivalente – Equivalent
  8. Satisfactoriamente – Satisfactory
  9. Impermeabilizante – Waterproofing
  10. Aeropuerto – Airport
  11. Inconscientemente – Unconsciously
  12. Electrodomésticos – Appliances
  13. Internacionalización – Internationalization
  14. Desafortunadamente – Unfortunately
  15. Fotografía – Photography
  16. Subestimado – Underestimated
  17. Incomprensible – Incomprehensible
  18. Anticonstitucionalmente – Unconstitutionally
  19. Circunstancialmente – Circumstantially
  20. Ferrocarril – Railroad

2. Top 10 tricky Spanish sounds and letters to pronounce

hard spanish words, letters flying away from a pen

Spanish sounds and letters can be challenging to master.

There are several words that appear easy to pronounce but can actually be quite tricky!

These words often have unique stress patterns or phonetic rules that can cause difficulties for non-native speakers.

Rojo (Red)

The word for red, rojo can be difficult for English speakers to pronounce due to the distinct ‘r’ sound and the pronunciation of ‘j’ as ‘h’. The stress on the first syllable is unexpected for English speakers accustomed to stress falling on the second to last syllable.

Learn more about how to roll your r’s in Spanish.

Gracias (Thank you)

In the same way, gracias (thank you) may appear straightforward, but the ‘ci’ combination produces a ‘th’ sound, which can surprise language learners.

Beso (Kiss)

When pronouncing the soft “B” sound and the short “e” sound, it is important to pay close attention to their specific characteristics.

The soft “B” sound is produced by gently pressing the lips together and releasing a subtle burst of air, while the short “e” sound is created by positioning the tongue closer to the front of the mouth and producing a quick, crisp sound.

Playa (Beach)

The “y” in this particular word is pronounced with a soft “j” sound, similar to the “j”. This subtle distinction adds a unique characteristic to the pronunciation of this word.

Y in Spanish can cause a lot of trouble in pronunciation, so it’s best to learn it thoroughly.

Gente (People)

Mastering the pronunciation of the soft “g” and the soft “e” can be quite challenging, especially when they come together.

Listen to the audio to practice and check out other usages of g in Spanish.

Huevo (Egg)

The silent “h” at the beginning of certain words can often catch English speakers off guard. It’s a subtle linguistic thing that may seem unnecessary at first, but it adds another layer of complexity to the Spanish language.

Fuego (Fire)

The letter “g” in this context is pronounced with a soft “g” sound, similar to the way the English word “hug” sounds.

Vino (Wine)

In Spanish, the “v” sound is typically pronounced like a soft “b” sound, where the lower lip gently touches the upper teeth.

This subtle difference in pronunciation adds a unique flavor to the language and is one of the characteristics that sets Spanish apart from other languages.

Jirafa (Giraffe)

In the Spanish word jirafa (giraffe), the letter “j” is pronounced as a soft “h” sound, similar to the gentle exhale of a breath.

J in Spanish is a tricky letter that you should look out for.

Llluvia (Rain)

In Spanish, the letter combination “ll” is pronounced like the letter “y”, which gives the language a special sound.

You can read more on ll in Spanish in our dedicated article.


3. Top 10 hard Spanish words to translate

hard spanish words, close up of multi language keyboard and translate word key

Sobremesa

Sobremesa refers to the time spent lingering at the table and chatting with others after a meal, particularly during a social gathering.

It can be loosely translated as “table talk,” although this doesn’t completely convey the true essence of sobremesa.

Antojo

Antojo is a strong and sudden desire for something, often related to food but can also apply to other things.

It includes emotional and impulsive elements that “whim” or “craving” come close to describing.

Madrugada

It refers to the time in the very early morning, specifically between midnight and sunrise.

While “dawn” or “early morning” can be used for the English translation, they don’t convey the same specific timeframe.

Friolero

A person who feels very sensitive to cold weather or easily gets cold. There isn’t a direct English word for this.

Merienda

An afternoon snack or light meal, typically enjoyed between lunch and dinner. It’s like a “snack,” but the timing and sometimes the food may be different.

Estrenar

“Trying something out” refers to using or wearing something for the first time, usually with newly bought items. It’s similar to “debut,” but not commonly used in the same way.

Empalagar

This describes the feeling of being overwhelmed or disgusted by too much sweetness, richness, or indulgence in food. There isn’t one simple word that captures this concept entirely.

Desvelado

Refers to the condition of not being able to sleep or staying awake all night. While “sleepless” or “insomniac” are similar, desvelado implies a more deliberate and intentional state of being awake.

Tocayo/Tocaya

When someone has the same first name as another person, we can use the term “namesake” in English (although it’s less commonly used in English than in Spanish).

Empacho

Empacho refers to the uncomfortable feeling or upset stomach that occurs after eating too much or indulging excessively.

While “indigestion” or “stomachache” capture some of the meaning, empacho specifically conveys the idea of excessiveness.


4. Top 10 tongue twisters to practice Spanish pronunciation

hard spanish words, set of vector sound waves

Spanish tongue twisters, or trabalenguas, are an enjoyable and challenging way to practice pronunciation and improve your language fluency.

Trabalenguas often contain words of similar sounds or syllables that become more complicated as they progress, making them an excellent tool for mastering the rhythmic pattern and unique sounds of Spanish. And who knows? Maybe you can even use these tongue twisters in Spanish conversations!

Here are 10 popular Spanish tongue twisters.

(Pay attention to the pronunciation and bear in mind that translating these tongue twisters to English can be hard and they might not be equal to their English versions.)

  1. Tres tristes tigres comen trigo en un trigal. – Three sad tigers eat wheat in a wheat field.
  2. Como poco coco como, poco coco compro. – Since I eat few coconuts, I buy few coconuts.
  3. El perro de San Roque no tiene rabo porque Ramón Rodríguez se lo ha robado. – San Roque’s dog has no tail because Ramón Rodríguez stole it.
  4. Pedro Pérez compra pocas papas para su papa. – Pedro Pérez buys few potatoes for his dad.
  5. Tres tristes tigres tragan trigo en un trigal en tres tristes trastos. – Three sad tigers eat wheat in a wheat field in three sad dishes.
  6. Pepe Peña pela papa, pica piña, pita un pito, pela piña, pica papa. – Pepe Peña peels potatoes, chops pineapples, toots a whistle, peels pineapples, chops potatoes.
  7. Erre con erre, cigarro; erre con erre, barril; rápido ruedan los carros, cargados de azúcar del ferrocarril. – R with R, cigar; R with R, barrel; the carts roll fast, loaded with sugar from the railway.
  8. Si Pancha plancha con cuatro planchas, ¿con cuántas planchas Pancha plancha? – If Pancha irons with four irons, how many irons does Pancha iron with?
  9. Paño, baño. – Cloth, bath.
  10. Compadre, cómpreme un coco, compadre no compro coco, porque como poco coco, poco coco compro yo. – Friend, buy me a coconut, friend, I don’t buy a coconut because I eat few coconuts, I buy few coconuts.

5. Practice section – From Spanish to English

I. Match the Spanish words with their English translations!

If you want to learn and practice more, sign up below to get Full Practice Worksheets for different Spanish articles!


6. Improve your Spanish with Conversation Based Chunking

Mastering the pronunciation of hard Spanish words can seem like a daunting task.

Words like “Ferrocarril“, “Desarrolladores“, “Aeropuerto” can indeed be challenging. However, with regular practice and the right approach, it becomes significantly more manageable.

One effective strategy to improve your Spanish is Conversation Based Chunking.

This involves learning vocabulary in chunks or groups of words that often go together instead of isolated words.

Remember, the key to mastering hard Spanish words is consistency and practice so sign up to get your Chunking Starter Pack and practice your listening and speaking skills!

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