Italian Pronunciation

How to pronounce Italian, with audio recordings by native speakers

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Italian Pronunciation / La pronuncia

 

Italian is a very phonetic language, so pronunciation should be easy.  Most words are pronounced exactly like they are spelled. There are only seven pure vowels, but several diphthongs and triphthongs. The English samples given are not pronounced exactly as in Italian because English vowels tend to be diphthongized (there's an extra yuh or wuh after the actual vowel). Make sure to only say the pure vowel and not the diphthong when pronouncing Italian.

Italian Vowels
English Pronunciation
[i] vita ee as in meet
[e] vedi ay as in bait
[ɛ] era eh as in bet
[a] cane ah as in father
[u] uva oo as in boot
[o] sole oh as in boat
[ɔ] modo aw as in law

Semi-Vowels
 
[w] quando, uomo wuh as in won
[j] piano, ieri, piove yuh as in yes


In spelling, the letter e is used to represent both [e] and [ɛ]; while the letter o is used to represent both [o] and [ɔ]. If the vowel is stressed, then the pronunciation is always closed [e] and [o]. If the vowel is not stressed, it is always open [ɛ] and [ɔ]. This can change according to regional dialects in Italy, of course, but this is the standard rule. Italian semi-vowels are always written ua, ue, uo, ui for [w] and ia, ie, io, iu for [j]. If another vowel precedes u or i, then it is a diphthong: ai, ei, oi, au, eu. The combination iu + another vowel creates a triphthong.


Italian consonant + vowel combinations


c + a, o, u, he, hi k amica, amico, amiche ah-mee-kah, ah-mee-koh, ah-mee-keh
c + ia, io, iu, e, i ch bacio, celebre, cinema bah-cho, cheh-leh-breh, chee-neh-mah
g + a, o, u, he, hi g gara, gusto, spaghetti gah-rah, goo-stoh, spah-geh-tee
g + ia, io, iu, e, i dj Giotto, gelato, magico djoh-toh, djeh-lah-toh, mah-djee-koh
sc + a, o, u, he, hi sk scala, scuola, scheda skah-lah, skoo-oh-la, skeh-dah
sc + ia, io, iu, e, i sh sciarpa, sciupato, scemo shar-pah, shoo-pah-toh, sheh-moh


The consonant h is always silent. Double consonants must be pronounced individually: il nonno (eel nohn-noh) is pronounced differently from il nono (eel noh-noh).

Stress falls on the second-to-last syllable in Italian. If stress falls on the last syllable, the vowel is written with an accent mark (la città). However, it is also possible for the stress to fall on the third-to-last syllable (America, telefono) and even the fourth-to-last syllable (telefonano) in third person plural verb conjugations.


 

Italian Phrases, Vocabulary, and Grammar with free audio

 



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