40% Off MSRP. Free Shipping : 30-Day Money Back Guarantee. Get Started Now

Italian Alphabet

Italian Alphabet
on March 26, 2017

The Italian alphabet consists of 21 letters missing J, K, W, X and Y that appear only in foreign words. The majority of Italian letters are always pronounced in the same way, but for some letter the pronunciation is different depending on the case. Note: H at the beginning of a word is silent.

Italian Alphabet

Italian spelling

Tips to pronounce them

Ipa

A

a

ah

/a/

B

bi

bee

/b/          

C

ci

chee

/k/ or /tʃ/

D

di

dee

/d/

E

e

eh

/e/ or /ɛ/

F

effe

EHf-fe

/f/

G

gi

jee

/ɡ/ or /dʒ/

H

acca

AHK-kah

I

i

ee

/i/ or /j/

L

elle

EL-leh

/l/

M

emme

EM-meh

/m/

N

enne

EN-neh

/n/

O

o

oh

/o/ or /ɔ/

P

pi

pee

/p/

Q

qu

ku

/k(w)/

R

erre

EhR-reh

/r/

S

esse

EhS-seh

/s/ or /z/

T

ti

tee

/t/

U

u

oo

/u/ o /w/

V

vu

vee

/v/

Z

zeta

ZEH-tah

/ts/ o /dz/


Vowels

 

Italian vowels are five and there are have just seven vowel sounds (one for A, I, U, and two pronunciation for E and O). Usually the pronunciation is more open than in English, so open your mouth to pronounce them.

The five open sounds:

  • A of Amore (love). Very similar to the A of Father
  • E of Bene (well). Identical to the E sound in the word Red
  • I of Vino (wine). Identical to the English sound of easy and see
  • O of Modo (way). Identical to the O sound in the word ought.
  • U of Ultimo (last). Italian U correspond to sound of double oo in English, like in soon or moon.

The two-sound vowels

E and O close sound

Please note, that even Italian people may not know the difference, so to confuse the two O or E sounds is not a big deal. In the following section there is accent explanation:

Open E

Closed E

English Translation

È

E

she/he/it is/and

*Vènti

Vénti

Twenty/winds

Sètte

Sétte

Seven/sects

Open O

Closed O

English Translation

Bòtte 

Còlto

Fòro

Bótte

Cólto

Fóro

Blows/barrel

Picked/cultured

court, tribunal/hole

* In this table, we reported “inside” accents to clarify different words and pronunciations.

Accents

Accents are just two. Acute and grave. While generally Italian accent is not reported, it’s mandatory to write it only when it falls on the last syllable of the word.

Acute (á, é, í, ó, ú) and grave (à, è, ì, ò, ù) accents are used in Italian to indicate where the voice should stress when pronouncing a word. The grave accent mark is used to mark stress on open vowels, while the acute accent mark is used to stress on closed vowels.

Grave accents:

  • città (city)
  • martedì (Thusday)
  • ballerò (I will dance)

Acute accents:

  • perché (why-because)
  • affinché (in order to)
  • caffé (coffee) 

Consonants

b, f, m, n, and v are pronounced the same as they are in English. Use the following suggestions to properly pronounce the other consonants.

  • D- Put your tongue to your teeth, to make the sound more explosive (as in Demand)
  • L- Sharper (as in Language)
  • H- silent
  • P- (as in Put)
  • Q- Always followed by U (as in Question)
  • R- you must roll the r as in Spanish word Burrito. You can practice a sequence of Italian R trying to reproduce a machine gun. Put the tip of your tongue at the roof of your mouth behind the front teeth. Adjust the position and start theatrical doing this roar sequence.  
  • T- Very pronounced (as in Tip)
  • Z- Often it can sound like T, but add more zest to it, especially when two Z’s are together (Pizza)

Some consonants change in sound depending on a variety of factors, such as:

S Z single or double

A single S, in the middle of a word, can often sound like a Z. Double S (SS) is very much emphasized. (Casa, passare)

A single Z can be silent, as in Stazione. A double Z (ZZ) can sound more like two T’s together, a in Pizzeria.

G and C hard or soft sound depends on the following vowel and if there is or not an H. Unlike the English language, the Italian H is silent but it’s used to change the sound of G and C with the I and E vowels.

C + HE, HI, A, O, or U has a hard sound like the K of “key”. And… pay attention to the first CHI cluster word example. What a coincidence!

CHI cluster words:

chiave (key) chiesa, marchio, coperchio, chiusura.

CHE cluster words:

Schermo (screen), schema (outline, framework), scherzo (trick), scheggia (splinter, sliver).

CA, CO, CU, cluster words:

Cacao, camino (cimney),carne (meal), cobalto (cobalt), coca cola (coke), cuore (heart), cucina (kitchen), culla (cradle, crib).

 

C + I or E = gentle “ch” sound (as in church)

CI CE cluster words

Ciao (Hi, Hello), Cielo (Sky), Cena (Dinner)

 

G + H + A, O, or U = hard sound like “gee” (as in old geezer)

G + E or I = soft, gentle sound like “gee”

GHE GHI cluster words:

Spaghetti, alghe (seaweed), Alghero,

Ghiaccio (ice), funghi (mushrooms), unghia (nail)

 

GI GE cluster words:

Gelato (Icecream), Gioia, (Joy), Gesto (gesture)

 

“GLI” cluster sounds like the “ll” of “million” pronounced very fast.

Aglio (aspic), Gli (the plural)

gn (as in gnocchi) sounds like “nye” as in the Russian “nyet” 

  1. Numbers

0

Zero

13

Tredici

26

Ventisei

90

Novanta

1

Uno

14

Quattordici

27

Ventisette

100

Cento

2

Due

15

Quindici

28

Ventotto

200

Duecento

3

Tre

16

Sedici

29

Ventinove

700

Settecento

4

Quattro

17

Diciassette

30

Trenta

800

Ottocento

5

Cinque

18

Diciotto

31

Trentuno

900

Novecento

6

Sei

19

Diciannove

32

Trentadue

1.000

Mille

7

Sette

20

Venti

33

Trentatré

2.000

Duemila

8

Otto

21

Ventuno

40

Quaranta

3.000

Tremila

9

Nove

22

Ventidue

50

Cinquanta

5.000

Cinquemila

10

Dieci

23

Ventitré

60

Sessanta

1.000.000

Un milione

11

Undici

24

Ventiquattro

70

Settanta

2.000.000

Due milioni

12

Dodici

25

Venticinque

80

Ottanta

3.000.000

Tre milioni

Numbers over one thousand are written using a period (.) where a comma (,) would appear in English. Cento has no plural form. Mille has the plural mila. Milione (plural: milioni) and miliardo (plural: miliardi) require -di when they occur before a noun.

For a little more background on the Italian language, click here.

 

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Breaking Down Steps For Eff...

April 27, 2017

Memorization isn’t mysterious. A person who can memorize a poem doesn’t necessarily have a better memory than you – that...

Read more →


Promote Fluency in Your Nex...

April 24, 2017

In the last blog, you learned about the first four principles of becoming fluent in a language. Even though a...

Read more →


Promote Fluency in Your Nex...

April 24, 2017

Learning another language is a long process, and it is different for everyone. There is no such thing as a...

Read more →


The Six Excuses That Deter ...

April 24, 2017

We are an extraordinarily creative species, as is obvious by how we can find any excuse to keep us from...

Read more →


8 Simple Tricks to Learning...

April 24, 2017

The Straightforward Approach It is easy to believe that there are tricks and cheats that will help you learn a...

Read more →