The ultimate Italian pronunciation guide for beginners

Overwhelmed by Italian pronunciation?

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Learn how to pronounce the alphabet and popular Italian words with me, a native Italian qualified tutor.

How to improve your Italian pronunciation with audio recordings

Live and learn Italian through my family’s recipes e-course book; get it free on Kindle Unlimited, also available for purchase on kindle.

Benefit learning the Italian language at a beginner level in a well-structured and enjoyable way. Avoid wasting your time learning endless lists of words and phrases which you will systematically forget. Our method has been designed by professional tutors to bring to you a unique Italian experience you can enjoy anytime and anywhere.

This program will give you the tools to build a solid understanding of the Italian language and explore Nonna Lena’s traditional recipes. Nonna Lena’s has been cooking since the age of 12 and she still cooks now at the age of 96, so the recipes have been tried and tested plenty of times.

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You get 6 lessons and audio for beginners containing the following Nonna’s Lena (family) recipes:

  • Pasta alla carbonara
  • Bruschetta, verdure grigliate (grilled vegetables), insalata caprese, (Caprese salad)
  • Gnocchi
  • Ciambellone (gradma’s cake)
  • Lasagne
  • Tiramsù

Audio included

Bonus: Italian wines to pair with the dishes and more language

Download here if you are in US or here if you are in the UK.

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Why Italian is easy to pronounce

The biggest challenge I encountered when I was learning the English language was its pronunciation. I could not make sense why even a vowel was pronounced differently. For example, the e in elephant and the e in ego or the i in India and the i in diamond; not to mention more complex sounds like synonym or tourism, in which I had to put a lot of effort to pronounce. In a few words, I had to learn by deduction and repetition, but you, lover of the Italian language and culture, you have it easy.

Italian is an entirely phonetic language, so pronunciation is a straight forward deal. Almost all words are read exactly how they are spelt. As long as you learn the Italian alphabet pronunciation and the major sounds you will make it. There are specific rules to be learned. Therefore, don’t feel daunted and start by learning the alphabet sounds with me now, by watching the video below.

Check the full article here https://www.languagesalive.com/how-many-letters-are-in-the-italian-alphabet/

 

Major sounds

Now that you have a grasp of the Italian alphabet pronunciation, let’s explore the major sounds created by combining the consonants with the 5 Italian vowels; a-e-i-o-u and with the h which is silent.

           

ITAENWords
c + a, o, u, he, hikCasa (home/house) – Conto (restaurant bill) – Cuore (heart) – Amiche (girlfriends) – Chiesa (church).
c + ia, io, iu, e, ichCiao – Ciotola (bowl) –  Ciuccio (pacifier) – Ceci (chickpeas)
g + a, o, u, he, higGatto (cat) – Governo (government) – Gusto (flavour) – Ghepardo – Ghiro (dormhouse)
g + ia, io, iu, e, idjGrattugia (grater) – Giocattolo (toy) – Giusto (correct) – Gelato – Giramondo (globetrotter)
sc + a, o, u, he, hiSKScaffale (shelf) – Scoiattolo (squirrel) – Scudo (shield) –Scherzo (joke) – Schifo (disgust)
sc + ia, io, iu, e, iShSciarpa (scarf) – Sciopero (strike) – Asciutto (dry) –   Scena (scene) –  Scienza (science)

 

Listen to the words in the table

 

Uncommon sounds in English

Below you can find sounds that are unusual in English. Your task it’s to listen to the audio and repeat them, then find more words with the same sounds in a text or in a book.

  • Gli like in aglio (garlic) and figlio (son)
  • Gn like in gnocchi and lasagna

The R is rolled with a trill in front of the mouth

  • Rosmarino  (rosemary)
  • Rotolo      (roll)
  • Riso         (rice)
  • Righello (ruler)

Uncommon sounds in English audio

 

Common words pronunciation

Below are the most popular Italian words researched on the web and that is for a reason. Often, the passion for Italian food goes hand in hand with the love for the Italian language. So here you have it; the correct pronunciation so you can impress your friends & family when ordering food and coffee in an Italian restaurant.

  • Pasta
  • Pasta alla carbonara
  • Pasta al dente
  • Parmigiano (Parmesan)
  • Spaghetti
  • Bucatini  (type of pasta)
  • Pizza con salamino piccante (pizza with spicy salame)
  • Bruschetta
  • Espresso
  • Caffè macchiato
  • Caffè ristretto  (short coffee, strong coffee)
  • Cappuccino
  • Barista
  • Latte   (milk)
  • Caffelatte   (latte)

Audio

Now it’s time to learn how to pronounce Italian greetings

Formal Greetings

  • Buongiorno               (Good morning)
  • Buon pomeriggio     (Good afternoon, used in some Italian regions or on TV and radio)
  • Buonasera                  (Good evening)
  • Buonaserata              (Have a good night)
  • Buonanotte                (Good night, used when ones goes to sleep)
  • Arrivederci                 (Goodbye)

Informal greetings

  • Ciao                             (Hello/hi when you meet and when you leave)
  • Salve                           (Hello/hi)

Audio

 

Why you need to pronounce the doubles in Italian

A double consonant is pronounced twice as long as a single one. This is crucial as it can change the meaning of some words completely.

For example:

Anno – ano –  (year-anus)
Penne – pene –  (pens-penis)
Pipa – pippa vulgar – (pipe – wanke)
Cappello – capello  – (hat– hair)
Casa – cassa –  (house – till)
Notte – note –  (night – notes)
Cane – canne – (dog – canes)
Polo – pollo – (pole – chicken)
Sera – serra – (evening – greenhouse)
PepePeppe – (pepper – diminutive of Giuseppe)
Rosa – rossa – (pink – red)
Sete – sette – (thirst – seven)

Audio

 

Strive for progress, not for perfection

Now that you know the Italian sounds, you can practice and improve. If you are interested in taking private tuition online or face to face, I offer a free consultation and half an hour lesson trial. Remember, phonetic ability starts declining after the age of 8.

You might not sound like a native speaker and that is totally OK. Your accent makes who you are and surely makes you fascinating at Italians ‘eyes.

So do not worry about perfection and strive for progress instead!

Raffaella Palumbo

Passionate about languages & good food.I hold a Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and French, a Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication for Business and Professions and the CLTA teaching certificate.My hobby is chasing the sun around the globe.My favourite quote:“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way” (Frank Smith)

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