Although Spanish is listed as one of the easier languages for a native English speaker to learn by the U.S. Foreign Service Institute, there are still many difficulties to overcome when studying this Romance language. Anyone who wants to speak like a native Spaniard will have to work extra hard on their pronunciation of Spanish words. In this short article, we will go through some of the most difficult Spanish words for foreigners to pronounce and give a few tips to help anyone on their Spanish learning journey.Learn Spanish in Granada with Inmsol

1. Perro

One of the trickiest things for English speakers to get right in Spanish is the rolling double-r sound. This is important to master, since not rolling the r’s on certain words can significantly change the meaning of what you are saying. The most common example is “perro,” which means “dog,” and “pero,” which means “but.”

2. Microondas

This word means “microwave” in English. The main difficulty English speakers have with this word is the double-o. The double-o here is not pronounced as in English like the “ooo” as in “moo.” Rather, it is pronounced “oh,” as in “go.” This is also true for the Spanish “zoo,” which looks the same as the English word for “zoo,” but is pronounced with the “oh” sound.

3. Desarrollar

This verb means “to develop” or “to carry out.” It is difficult both for the double-l and the double-r. The double-l should sound like the “y” in the word “yes.” Another important thing to understand about double-r and double-l is that Spanish people consider them a single letter and a single sound. So, when trying to break up your words for practice, just remember to treat these double letters as one sound.

4. Lluvia

This word means “rain.” A good approximation into English is “yoo-bveeah.” You can notice that the “v” sound in Spanish is best equated to the “b” sound in English. In this case, it might be best to think of the word “be” to help with the “v” sound.

5. Niño

Another unique Spanish letter is “ñ,” which is very similar to the “ni” sound in “onion.” This letter appears in many words, including this one meaning “boy.” To make this feminine, you can say “niña.”

6. Reina

This word, which means “queen,” is a bit tricky for the diphthong “ei.” It is best to think of this “ei” sound as equivalent to the “ey” in the English word “hey.” This is also true for the “ey” sound in Spanish words, for example “rey,” which means “king.”

7. Radio

Although this word looks exactly the same as the English one, you have to remember the Spanish diphthong for “io.” The best way to think of the “io” sound is as in “yo yo.” Also, the “a” sound here is like “ah” sound in English words like “father.”

8. Ciudad

This word for “city” is most tricky for its “iu” sound. This sound in Spanish is like the “ou” sound in “you.” The “c” sound at the start of the word is practically the same to the “c” in the English word “city.”

9. Aire

One of the most famous expressions is Spanish is probably “Ay, Dios mio!” All speakers have to do is take that “ay” sound and put it into the “ai” of “aire.” The “re” part of this word is like the English word “ray.” In case you didn’t know, this word means “air.”

10. Europa

Finally, this word for “Europe” in Spanish is a bit difficult because the sound for “eu” actually doesn’t exist in English. The fact that English natives have no equivalent in their language may make this one of the more difficult Spanish words to get perfect. The only equivalent linguists have found in English for the Spanish “eu” is the expression “eww.”

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