Properly Pronouncing the Spanish Ce, Ci, and Z or CeSeo


We are going to talk about the Spanish Ce, Ci, and Z. As you know these 3 require special phonetic attention.

First off, download the podcast of this post here:

spanish_ce_ci_and_z(download link) if it doesn’t work;just right click on the link then select “Save link as” then, , you know where to go from there!

How to pronounce these?

The sound of the Spanish Ce, Ci, and Z represents that of the English “th”; the  θ to be exact (theta sound). The sound of C that is followed by E or I are interdental. Which means that the tip of the toungue must be in between the front teeth.

Like this:

pronouncing theta sound

You might be familiar with that if you are an English speaker. Just make like DHaffyy Dhuck.

Why is this important?

Yes; some Spanish speaking countries don’t apply these principles; in fact most Latin Americans use “SeSeo” which means that they pronounce Ce Ci and Z like “S”.

But given that fact this is still the “proper way” to pronounce these. And becoming more familiar with these sounds is also an advantage.

Just think about this: what would be the difference between saying ciento (hundred) and siento (feel)? That is when CeSeO becomes useful.

Fine Tune your Ce Ci and Z

Okay now that you have decided to speak in a CeSeO manner (which means that you pronounce Ce, Ci, and Z as “th” and not “s”) you  need to know how to fine tune your Ceseo:

The Ce Ci and Z are indeed pronounced like “Th”- that is just the easiest guideline: It is not purely pronounced like such. If you listen to Castillan speakers they kind of pronounce Ce Ci and Z like “th” and “s” in between. Its like it is “th” but with a tinge of “s”. That is the perfect Ce, Ci, Z sound!

Now lets practice your Ce, Ci, and Z:

César, cemento (cement)

Cicerón, cine (cinema/ movie house)

Mercedes, cocina (kitchen)

Pacita, ambulancia (ambulance)

Lorenzo, cíudad (city)

García, zapatos (shoes)

Fernández, brazo (arms/ Specifically forearms)

Martínez, cruz (cross)

Zurbarán, zarzuela (a type of Spanish musical comedy)

Velázquez, azucena (a white lily)

Que Dios te bendiga. Pls stay tuned for more podcasts and easy lectures and pointers!

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About the author

I go by the name of Magallanes in this blog. My mission here is to influence you folks in the most effective way to learn the Spanish language. Welcome to my fleet!