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How Duolingo pronounces "V"s & "B"s

I've noticed that Duolingo tends to pronounce the "B"s in Spanish (like with Bebo, bebe, bebemos) like "V"s. Bebo tends to sound like Bevo (sometimes Vevo to me) and so forth. Vino is pronounced with a harsh V like in English. My problem is that everywhere else....online, youtube videos, textbooks...they all say that Bs and Vs sound exactly the same. V should sound like B. so Vino should sound like Bino. Bebo should be bebo and not bevo. Is it an error in the duolingo voice or maybe a regional thing? I am really confused on this. Hopefully my explanation makes sense!

June 23, 2017



It's more that the way B/V sounds is somewhat affected by where it falls in a word. It's harder (closer to a B) when at the beginning of a word and often softer when following vowels. So "beber" and "vivir" will generally be pronounced similarly, with the first B/V harder than the second.

The V in Vino generally should sound more like a B, though, yes. But there's generally variation in the way people pronounce things, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.


Many of the Spanish consonants have more than one sound, the letters 'b' and 'v' both have two sounds, you have a main sound [b] and an approximant sound [β̞]. Approximant sounds are similar to the main sound, but without stopping the air flow. The main sound is just like the English 'b', the approximant sound is pronounced similarly, but without closing your lips, nor touching the bottom lip with your front teeth as you would with an English 'v' sound (though this might happen by accident sometimes).

Which sound the consonant takes depends on other sounds around it, and the position of the letter in the sentence. You should use the main sound in the following two instances:

When 'b' or 'v' are at the beginning of the sentence, or after a pause:

  • Bébete un trago. [ˈbe̞β̞e̞t̪e̞ ũn̪ ˈt̪ɾa̠ɣ̞o̞]
  • Vamos al cine. [ˈba̠mo̞s a̠l ˈsĩne̞]
  • No vino conmigo, vino solo. [no̞ ˈβ̞ĩno̞ kõ̞mˈmiɣ̞o̞ ˈbĩno̞ ˈso̞lo̞]

When a nasal consonant precedes it:

  • Invierno. [ĩmˈbje̞ɾno̞]
  • Un bebé. [ũm ˈbe̞β̞e̞]
  • ¿Quieren vino? [ˈkje̞ɾẽ̞m ˈbino̞]

The rest of the times you have to use the approximant sound. It is also worth pointing out that 'p' also has the same secondary sound when it is at the end of a syllable, for example, "óptimo" is normally pronounced [ˈɔβ̞t̪imo̞], with a soft 'b' sound rather than a 'p'.

In case you're interested, other consonants that have approximant sounds are 'd', 'g', 'y', and 'll'. By the way, Spanish speakers are not the best at explaining Spanish pronunciation, since most don't even notice that they're making more than one sound with the same consonant.


Spanish B/V sound the same... depending on their possition.
In the beginning of a sentence or after n or m they sound like an English b ("Vino tinto", "El invierno", "Bombo").
In other places, they sound similar - but not identical - to an English v ("Bebí un buen vaso de vino blanco").
It is the same for d's and g's, but d's also sound "hard" after l.


I, too find it strange that Duolingo often pronounces Spanish B and V like English V. It's definitely not what I was taught in college.


In Italian it's often very hard to tell if the speaker is saying a B or a V. In fact, many words in English happily transpose those letters for words of the same root in Latin.

I assume the same happens in Spanish.

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