Spanish is a language that is written according to how it is spoken. The Spanish “play football” or “breakfast coffee and a croissant”. Even in our dictionary we accepted the word “güisqui” (whiskey).
So, it is very easy to learn Spanish, since all the words are spelled exactly as they sound.
But beware, because the orthography is not so easy. We have our letter h, which is always silent, except when it is accompanied by the letter c – leche (milk), so hola (hello) and ola (wave) sound the same but are different things.
- Hola: Greeting. E.g, hola (hello), buenos días (good morning).
- Ola: movement of the sea. E.g, Me gusta el sonido de las olas (I like the sound of the waves).
There are also some letters who sound the same such as the B and V.
- Botar: skip or throw to a place. g. La pelota bota mucho (the ball bounces a lot)
- Votar: to emit a vote in an election. He votado en las elecciones para el president del gobierno (I voted in the election for the prime minister).
These words are called homophones, meaning that they are spelled differently but spelled alike. Pay attention to this sentence:
Ahí hay un hombre que grita. ¡Ay! (There is a man screaming. Oh!)
- Ahí: adverb of a place. Eg Dejé mi dinero ahí y ya no está (I left my money here and now it is gone).
- Hay: the verb to be. Eg. No hay nada en la nevera (There is nothing in the fridge).
- ¡Ay!: interjection. ¡Ay! Me has pisado el pie (Oh! You´ve stepped on my foot).
Furthermore, the list of homophones increases when we move to areas where we lisp. The list of homophones increases when we move to the areas where we lisp, these are pronunciations such as the c (before the e and i), z (before the a, o and o) and the letter s is pronounced with the sound /s/. This phenomenon occurs in Andalusia and the Canary Islands, and in all Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America.
In this case the words cocer and coser sound the same but are two different things:
- Cocer: cook. Eg. Tienes que cocer dos huevos (You have to cook two eggs).
- Coser: Using a thread to connect two fabrics. Se me ha roto el pantalón ¿Me lo puedes coser? (I torned your pants, should I sew it?).
So, to learn how to differentiate, you have to learn how to spell each word depending on the context in which it is used. We can memorize a list of the most important words, but in the end it will get boring and you will mix the words and meanings.
But, why should we waste our time trying to memorize words when we can learn it while playing? From our school, AIP Spanish Language Institute, we present you:
A fun game to practice your Spanish vocabulary where you have to complete the sentences by choosing between homophonic words.
¡Adivina la correcta!
El juego tiene 62 preguntas y tu propia competitividad te hará no querer parar de jugar hasta acertar todas batiendo tu récord, ya que si fallas tienes que volver a empezar desde la frase uno. Por suerte las preguntas son aleatorias, así que cada vez empezarás con una frase diferente.
Also, when your answer is incorrect, the game will tell you why you failed and give you the meaning of the word.
While playing, you can create your own list of homophones instead of memorizing the readymade list. By doing this, you can learn more words and it allows you to study the Spanish orthography.
It is also likely that there will be words you do not know. So, you will improve your spelling and learn new vocabulary.
For those who also want to practice the homophones in English, here is the English version of the game:
Patricia García Olmeda
AIP Spanish Language School