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Home » Language Resources » Spanish Alphabet » Letter L

The Letter L

The Letter L in Spanish

ELE. Liquid alveolar lateral consonant sound

Origen of the letter:
From the Latin 'L' and the Greek lambda.

Example of usage:

The L in Spanish

L” is the twelfth letter in the Spanish alphabet. Its name is ELE. The letter “L” first appeared in Latin from the Greek letter lambda. This in turn stemmed from an Egyptian hieroglyphic.

In Spanish the letter “L” sound phonetically described as an alveolar lateral consonant sound is made by pressing the tongue against the alveolar ridge, the bumpy part of the roof of the mouth immediately behind the upper front teeth, so that the air passes on both sides of the “barrier”. In this way, we pronounce the “L” in Spanish words like “lado”, “mal” and “doble”.

In Spanish, a digraph consisting of two consecutive ELES, represents the sound of a different consonant. This sound is generated by pressing the central part of the curved tongue against the roof of the mouth, while the air passes by the sides in a slight implosion. That is the sound of the Spanish words “calle”, “lluvia” and “cuello”. There are important differences in the pronunciation of this consonant, depending on the different dialect areas.

There is also a fairly widespread use of the letter ELLE pronounced like the “Y”. This phenomenon is called yeísmo. In Catalan, it is possible to write “LL” to represent the sound of two L’s, that despite being together each belongs to a separate syllable, as in the Catalan word il·luminació; this letter combination, which makes use of the interpoint, is known in Spanish as the ele geminada.