Italian Pronunciation Made Easy

A quick and dirty guide to Italian pronunciation.

Italian Pronunciation Is Easy

Italian spelling has been standardized. If you see an Italian word, there are usually simple rules for pronouncing it.

Stress

Stress the penultimate syllable. If there is an accent, such as città, stress the syllable with the accent.

Vowels

  • a: Like hah.
  • e: Two possible sounds:
    • English short e as in bed or
    • Like chaos.
  • i: English long e as in beep.
  • o: Two possible sounds. Difficult to describe in English.
    • Like awe or
    • Like go, chopping the vowel sound as quickly as possible.
  • u: English oo as in boot.

Successive Vowels

Pronounce each one individually.

Consonants

Pronounce as you would in English. Exceptions follow.

Soft & Hard: C & G

This is the biggest problem when English speakers pronounce Italian.

  • ca, co, cu, ga, go, gu: Hard c as in cat or g as in go.
  • ce, ci, ge, gi: Soft c as is chest or g as in gel.

H After C & G Makes Them Hard

  • che, chi, ghe, ghi: Hard c or g.

S Before C

  • sci, sce: Soft, like the sh in ship.
  • schi, sche: Hard, like the sk in ski.

Other Consonants

  • r: Trill it a bit.
  • d, t: Not as hard as in English.
  • s: As in mouse or frozen.
  • z: As in pizza or lads.
  • gn: Close to canyon or nyah-nyah-nyah.
  • gl: Close to million or ly where the y is a consonant.
  • Double consonants: Hold the consonant sound for a bit longer in your mouth than if it were a single consonant.

Notes & Disclaimers

  • The Italian alphabet has 21 letters; it’s missing J, K, W, X, and Y.
  • The rules above are general and approximate.
  • Regional dialects abound, so natives may pronounce things slightly differently, but at least they’ll understand you.

3 thoughts on “Italian Pronunciation Made Easy”

  1. Ah! s: As in house (the verb, not the noun). I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t remember you having such a speech impediment.

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