ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS: Lesson 1-Alphabet & pronunciation

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Wella!  ('Heya!' in English).

 Welcome to your first personal Italian lesson =D

Objective: To learn the Italian alphabet.

 Interesting fact: Italian is (apparently) the second-closest language to Latin after Sardinian  and one of the five romance languages (French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish). All five are quite similar to one another, with French being a close second.

 Advice of the day: Whether you already know some phrases or not, revision always comes in useful when studying a foreign language.

Fun fact: Everything is pronounced in Italian!

 Here is the Italian alphabet. After each letter I have written its name in Italian (like 'C' in English is pronounced 'See') then its actual pronunciation.

A-'Ah' as in 'Ape' (bee)

B-'Bee' as in 'Bilancia' (Libra/Scales)

C-'Chee' as in 'Città' (City) in front of 'e' or 'i'.

BUT Pronounced 'K' as in 'Cat' (in front of a, o and u) as in cane (dog)

D-'Dee' as in 'Dito' (finger). 

This 'D' is almost like the English 'Th' in 'This'-just place the tip of your tongue behind your two front teeth and say, 'Dee'

E-'Eh' as in 'Età' (age).

F-'Eff-eh'. (The italics signify the stress of the syllable). As in 'Fame' (hunger)

G-'Jee' as in 'Gene' (gene) when in front of the e or i.

BUT pronounced 'Geh' as in 'Gatto' (cat) in front of vowels a, o and u.

H-'Acca'. Silent letter. As in 'ho' (Pronounced 'oh') (I have)

I-'ee' as in 'Italia'

L-'El-leh'. As in 'Lungo' (long)'. If there are two 'L's' together, they are longer in sound. 'Pallone'-Ball

M-'Em-meh'. Same in English. If there are two 'M's' together, they are longer in sound. 'Mamma'-Mum

N-'En-neh'. Same in English. Longer in sound if two are together: 'Nonna'-Grandmother-Granny

O-'Oh' as in 'Polpo' (octopus)

P-'Pee' as in 'Padre' (father)

Q-'Koo' like 'Could' but deeper. You will always find it with a 'u' next to it, 'Qu', pronounced like 'Questo' (this).

R-'Eh-rreh' rolled 'R', like a Scotsman would probably say 'Red' as in 'rosso' (red).

S-'Eh-sseh' like 'Essendo' (being-gerund form) Longer in sound if two are together: 'TEssera'-Season ticket

T-'Tee' like 'Tea'. Similarly to 'D', pronounce it by placing the tip of your tongue lightly between your first two incisors, a bit like 'Think' but not aspirated. Two together are pronounced longer: 'Latte'-'Milk'.

U-'ooh' like 'Would' but longer and deeper. As in 'Ulivo' (olive tree)

V-'Voo' but deeper. As in 'Vino' (wine)

Z-'Dzeta'. Pronounced like 'ds' in lads' as in 'Zaino' (backpack)

BUT 'ts' in 'sits' in as in 'Pizza'.

Note: The five missing letters J-K-W-X-Y (LETtere esotiche) are pronounced as in English apart from J (mostly pronounced like a 'Y') and W (like a 'V').

 J-I lunga (lit: long I)





When you say 'We!/Wella!' say it with an English 'W'-exception!

 Advice for Spanish speakers: It is logical for you to attempt reading Italian as you would in Spanish since they are quite similar, but I really do not recommend it. The double 'LL' for example is pronounced like a longer 'L', not a 'Y' or a 'G' as in Spanish.


Ae-'ah-eh'. 'Paese'- town or country

Ai-as in 'Like'. Example: Mai-never

Ao-as in 'Owl'. Rarely used.

Au-'Ah-ooh' but shortened.'Aula'-classroom

Cc-'Ch' like 'Chin' before vowels 'e' and 'i'. Example: Uccello- Bird or Piccino- Child

Cc-'C' like 'Car' before vowels 'a' 'o' and 'u'. Example: Attaccare- to attack. Slightly longer in sound.

Ch/Cch-'K' as in 'Kin'. Example: 'Chi?' (pronounced like 'key')-(Who?/Whom?)

Ea-like 'Heya!'-'Dea'-Goddess

Ei-'ay' like 'Way'. Example: 'Dèi'-Gods

Eu-'Ay-oo' like 'May you...?'. Example: Europa-Europe

Gh-'G' as in 'Got'. Example: Ghiaccio-Ice (Pronounced 'GYA-cho)

Gl-if followed by 'e' or 'i' it is pronounced like a 'lyuh' such as 'Lyon'. Example: Luglio (LOO-lyoh)-July

Gn-'Ny' no equivalent  sound in English but similar to 'Onion'. 'Gnocchi'-Potato dumplings

Ie-'Ye'. Example: 'Ieri'-yesterday.

 Io-pronounced 'ee-yoh' on its own, but pronounced 'O' like 'Cot' in 'Ciò'-Cho (This/that) or 'Giovanni'-Jovanni (Johnathan)

Iu-'You' but deeper. Example: 'Chiunque' (ki-OON-queh)-Whoever/Whomever.

Sc-'Sk' before 'a', 'o' and 'u'. Example: Scuola (school). 'Sh' before 'i' and 'e'. Example: Sciare-To ski

ZZ-'ts' as in 'Sits' or, of course: 'Pizza'. (Did you know it quite literally means 'Pie' in English?) :)

Other things: the vowels a, e, i, o and u can all have accents above them. They mean slightly different pronunciation but don't worry about that just yet.

For now, I simply want you to know that if an Italian word ends in an accentuated vowel (like 'Città'-city), you must stress the last syllable. So it's not 'Cheetta' but 'cheet-AH'.

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