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Home » Language Resources » Spanish Alphabet » Letter C

The Letter C

The Letter C in Spanish

CE. Interdental unvoiced consonant (ce/ci) also represents the unvoiced velar consonant (ca / co/ cu)

Origen of the letter:
From the Latin C, derived from the Phoenician gimel

Example of usage:

The C in Spanish

C is the third letter of the Spanish alphabet and of other Romance Languages. The name of this letter in Spanish is “ce”. The symbol comes from the Latin C by curving the Greek letter Γ(gamma)that originated from the Phoenician symbol called gimel, or camel, which came from a Egyptian symbol.

The letter C that comes from archaic Latin was pronounced in two different ways: one was similar to the current GA, GUE, GUI, GO and GU, which disappeared in classical times and the other was equivalent to CA which would eventually make its way into the Romance Languages. Since the 16th century the letter C in Spanish has represented two sounds. The first of which is the C sound as represented in the words “cama”, “copa”, “cuna”, “clima” and “cráneo” and is used in all Spanish speaking countries. The sound is produced by bringing the back of the tongue to the soft palate and releasing air in a small implosion without vibrating the vocal cords. This sound is made when the letter C is followed by the vowels A, O or U, before the consonants L and Y, and when part of a consonant cluster such as in the word “pacto”.

The second sound is like the Z sound and is produced by bringing the front of the tongue to the upper teeth and forcing air through the barrier without vibrating the vocal cords as heard in the words “cena” and “cine”. In most of the Spanish speaking countries of the Americas and some regions of Spain the C sound in these words is actually pronounced as an S. This tendency is referred to as pronouncing with a “seseo”.

In Spanish the letter C can be combined with the letter H to form the digraph CH, read “CHE”. The letter is made by placing the tip of the tongue to the palate and quickly releasing the tongue as you force air quickly through the barrier without vibrating the vocal cords.  This sound is found in words like “chocolate” and “corcho” as well as in other words from the diverse dialects found throughout the Spanish world.