puntual (pronunciation b/p)


Senior Member
Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
Does anybody have difficulty discerning between the two Spanish letters?

This seems to be a big problem for me.

Once a Colombian friend asked me (out of the blue) if I was "puntual". I thought he said "buntual", which I guess had something to do with bunting in baseball.

When I was in Costa Rica, I suffered a horrible sunburn that involved horrid water blisters covering most of my upper back and shoulders. Upon noticing these on me, my homestay family called them "pompas de agua". I thought they said "bombas de agua".

(If this is in the wrong forum, please move it. However, it says "Gramatica, etc." so I'm guessing it's OK.)
  • Soy Yo

    Senior Member
    EEUU - inglés
    Ahora estás en "vocabulario"...

    Creo que la "p" española es más suave que la "p" inglesa... Quizas eso contribuya a tu confusion. Nunca me ha sido problemático esto... aunque sí otras cosas. Las dos son bilabiales...una es voiced "b"; la otra es "unvoiced" "p" (en los dos idiomas).

    La "p" inglesa es más explosiva que la "p" española--la articulación viene acompañada de un "puf" de aire.


    Senior Member
    Spanish - Colombia
    The sound of 'p' in Spanish is much softer than in English. And also, the sound of 'b' is much softer. That's why 'p' sounds like a 'b' to you. And sometimes when a letter has a 'b' in it you'll probably think the 'b' was not pronounced. But it's there. :p

    Your ear will get used to it.



    Senior Member
    Belgium - Dutch, English
    I have the same problem, but with v's and b's... For a long long time, I thought "oveja" was written with a b... And there's many more like that.

    Santiago Jorge

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    This is the first time I have heard of this kind of difficulty, between the "p" and "b" (I know that "b" and "v" can be difficult). Nevertheless, I don't think it is universal.

    I have noticed myself that whole regions can have curious pronunciation that make it harder to undestand the language, especially those areas where parts of the word is chopped off. For example, I have noticed how in some areas in Mexico the first part of words are often cut off (not pronounced) whereas in the Carribean Islands, the last part is cut off. For newcomers to the Spanish language it can be quite frustrating.

    I guess the long and short of this is, one must simply learn the way people speak in the different parts of the world where you are at the time, and that it will take some time until you can get completely up to speed.