How many letters are in the Italian alphabet?

talian_alphabet_for- beginners

The Italian alphabet has 21 letters of which 5 are vowels a-e-i-o-u and 16 are consonants.

Let’s crack on and learn straight away the Italian alphabet pronunciation with me. Whether you are new or just revising I am sure you will enjoy this Italian lesson with me.

Would you like to speed up your learning process?

Watch my video now and learn in context; give meaning to words and you will notice a tremendous positive shift in your new language attainment. Learning in context means that new language will stick in your long term memory much easier than when studying following a traditional method or using structure-less apps.

To help you out I put below how Italian letters sound in English

A – A Like in cat
B – Bi -Like in but – (English bee)
C – Ci like in cheese
D – Di (English dee)
E – E  like in elephant
F – Effe like in father
G – Gi ( English Gee)
H – Acca- Silent, but it changes the sounds when in between some letters
I – I like in India ( English Ee)
L – Elle like in let
M – Emme like in mechanic
N – Enne like in never
O – O like in on
P – Pi like in pizza (English pee)
Q – Qu (English Ku)
R – Erre – This sound cannot be reproduced in English 
S Esse like in Song
T – Ti like in tilt (English tea)
U – U Like in spoon (English oo)
V – Vu or Vi – Like in visual (English vee)
– Zeta in most words pronounced as ts in English


What letters are not in the Italian alphabet?

J i lunga
K (kappa)
W (doppio/a vu o vi)
X (ics)
Y ipsilon o i greca

The other sounds you must learn to master Italian pronunciation

As you might have noticed, the Italian alphabet letters can all be found in the English alphabet, however, some are not pronounced the same: h (acca) is never pronounced, but if between c (or g) and e/i, it changes the sound. The h is silent like in hotel for instance and in the conjugated persons of the auxiliary verb avere: io ho, tu hai, lui/lei/Lei ha and loro hanno (abbiamo and avete do not take h). They have, loro hanno is pronounced exactly the same as anno (year) for instance.

C sounds in English like CH

Chi (who) sounds like Ki.
Che (what) sounds like Ke.
G followed by e or i has a soft “gee” sound
Gelato (iced – ice cream)
Girasole (sunflower)

When the G is followed by h it also assumes a hard sound
Ghiro (dormhouse)

S is pronounced pretty much like in English but when followed by ch it assumes a hard sound

Bruschetta – Brusketta
Schermo (Screen) – Skermo
Schiaffo (slap) – Skiaffo
Schivare (to avoid) – Skivare

Uncommon sounds in English

Gli like in aglio (garlic) and luglio (July)
Gn like in gnocchi and cognome (last name)
The R is rolled with a trill in front of the mouth


The importance of doubles in Italian

A double consonant is pronounced twice as long as a single one. This is extremely important as it can change the meaning of some words completely.
For instance:

Anno – ano (year-anus)
Penne – pene (pens-penis)
Pipa – pippa (pipe – wanke)
Petto – peto (chest – flatulence)
Nonna – nona (Grandma – ninth)
Papa – pappa (Pope – mush)
Sonno – sono (sleep – I am)
Bella – bela (beautiful – baa)
Brutto – bruto (ugly – a rude person, it can also assume other meanings)
Stesso– steso (same – lying down/hanging)
Rosa – rossa (pink – red)
Sete – sette (thirst – seven)


Letters which are not part of the Italian alphabet

The letters J, K, W, X and Y are not part of the Italian alphabet and are only mentioned when using borrowed foreign words such as whisky, weekend, website, yogurt, jazz and so on.
Now that you have learned the Italian alphabet get a pen and write down your name and spell it to someone or to yourself.
If you watched the video here is my name I spelt for you R-a-f-f-a-e-l-l-a
Now check if you got it right and let me know in the comments box.

Italian official spelling

As in Italian each letter is pronounced as it is written, in my opinion spelling is not a big of a deal in contrast with its importance in the English language. It is unusual to not understand an Italian last name for instance when talking face to face. Nevertheless, over the phone it is a different story and spelling is used more often.

Most Italian letters are associated with Italian cities for the purpose of spelling. This is crucial for those letters which can easily be confused such as m/n/r, p/b, d/t, s/f or c/g, but less important for the more unusual letters such as h,j,k,q,w,x,y,z.

  • A like (come) Ancona
  • B like Bologna
  • C like Como
  • D like Domodossola
  • E like Empoli
  • F like Firenze
  • G like Genova
  • H like Hotel (acca)
  • I like Imola
  • L like Livorno
  • M like Milano
  • N like Napoli
  • O like Otranto
  • P like Palermo
  • Q
  • R like Roma
  • S like Savona
  • T like Torino
  • U like Udine
  • V likevv Venezia
  • Z zeta
  • J i lunga
  • K (kappa)
  • W (doppio/a vu o vi)
  • X (ics)
  • Y come ipsilon o i greca
    Now let’s have some fun and spell your nome e cognome (name and last name) using the spelling above.



Italian alphabet for children

If you are teaching the Italian alphabet to your children you might find useful my free resources in pdf and video. You can teach them the Italian alphabet letters using the Italian alphabet song I suggested on my page and the Italian alphabet words you can print out together with the images to play the Italian matching game.

If you are also interested in the Spanish alphabet you can also find free materials on the same page. Please click here

Italian alphabet with pasta


A fun way to learn the alphabet with pasta

To make things even more fun for your children you could show them the alphabet pasta letters and use the alphabet pasta to make a minestrina (soup). That’s all you need is a good quality stock, pasta, extra virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese.
See the main ingredients in my list (UK) (US)

I hope you enjoyed this post and make sure to subscribe to my youtube channel and hit the notification bell as part two will come soon!


I USE AFFILIATE LINKS You as a customer do not pay anymore or any less by clicking on my affiliate links. As an Amazon Influencer I receive a small percentage of sales. It supports me creating, sharing and growing my blog and youtube channel to bring more posts and videos like this and is greatly appreciated