Diphthongs (diptongos en español) are a combination of one strong (a, e, o) and one weak vowel (i, u), or of two weak vowels. Diphthongs are counted as one syllable. It may not be separated unless the weak vowel bears a written accent called “tilde”:
|ai, ay||aire, hay||pronounce like “eye”|
|ei, ey||reino, ley||pronounce like “may”|
|oi, oy||oigo, hoy||pronounce like “toy”|
|iu||triunfo, ciudad||pronounce like “you”|
|ui, uy||cuidar, muy||pronounce like “Louie”|
|ue||hueso, muerte||pronounce like “west”|
|au||jaula, Paula||pronounce like “now”|
|eu||feudal, reuma||pronounce like “eh + oo”|
|ia||estudiamos||pronounce like “yacht”|
|ie||miel, quiero||pronounce like “ye”|
|ua||cuatro, mensual||pronounce like “watt”|
|uo||cuota, antiguo||pronounce like “quota”|
The combination of a stressed strong vowel between two weak vowels that forms a single syllable is a triphthong. In Spanish, only four exist.
|iai||estudiáis||pronounce like “yipe”|
|iei||estudiéis||pronounce like “yea”|
|uai (uay)||continuáis, Paraguay||pronounce like “wine”|
|uei (uey)||continuéis, buey||pronounce like “wade”|
If the weak vowel is stressed, there is a separation called hiato, these are not diphthongs: ca-í-da, dí-a, rí-en, Ma-rí-a, tí-os, re-í-mos, re-ú-ne…
It also an hiato when the combination of two strong vowels is separated: ca-e-mos,re-a-li-dad, le-en, em-ple-o, a-e-ro-pla-no..
Remember you can contact your tutor with any question you have about diphthongs. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet? Just click on the link to practice the diphthongs with our quizzes.