‘o’ becomes ‘u’ when followed by a word beginning with ‘o’

Does anyone else struggle to make this switch even though it's an easy rule to memorize?

The point of it, I thought, was to avoid having two separate 'o' sounds next to each other. It's supposed to flow better in speech, to my understanding, but for me, it's easier for me to say two 'o' sounds than to say 'u' then 'o'.

I have no issue saying "siete o ocho". "Siete u ocho" actually is more awkward for me to say. Not by a ton, but enough that it's the reason I keep forgetting to switch to 'u'.

'Y' becoming 'e' when followed by a word beginning with 'i' makes more sense to me because those sounds together are a little awkward to say.

I'm wondering if anyone feels the same way about the o -> u rule.

I'm also curious how much native Spanish speakers adhere to it. Is it a rule that's taught to language learners, but native speakers don't even bother? (I can think of some examples of formal rules about English that native English speakers rarely bother to follow in daily speech.)

Or is it a totally ingrained and automatic thing for native speakers? My best example in English would be how it is fairly intuitive for us when to use 'a' and when to use 'an'.

submitted by /u/Comprehensive-Fun47
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