Italian Pronunciation Guide

Letters marked in blue have two sounds.

Vowels

Italian has just 7 vowel sounds. When two or more vowels occur in a row, they are always pronounced separately, as in Australia [a-u-stra-li-a]

  English equivalent Example
a long like a in "father" mamma
e 1. (open) like e in set
2. (closed) like a in say
1. bello
2. sera
i like ee in meet amico
o 1. (open) like o in pot
2. (closed) like o in post
1. otto
2. sole
u like oo in food uno

 

Consonants

Most consonants are pronounced as in English, except the following:

  English equivalent Example
c 1. before "i" or "e" - like ch in church
2. otherwise - like c in car
1. ciao, piacere
2. casa, come, cuoco
g 1. before "i" or "e" - like g in general
2. otherwise - like g in goal
1. giorno, gelato
2. gatto, gonna, gusto
h h is always silent ho, hai, hanno, hotel
r rolled like r in Spanish Roma, treno
s 1. between vowels - like s in snake
2. otherwise - like s in sit
1. casa, rosa
2. scala, pasto
z 1. at beginning of words - like ds in pads
2. otherwise - like ts in cats
1. zero, zucchero
2. grazie, stazione

 

Combinations

  English equivalent Example
ch like c in car anche, chilo
gh like g in goal spaghetti, funghi
gn like ny in canyon or like ñ in Spanish signora, gnocchi
gli like lli in million figlio, moglie
sc 1. before "i" or "e" - like sh in shut
2. otherwise - like sk in skip
1. sciare, pesce
2. scala, scusi, tedeschi