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Italian Consonants

Pronouncing Italian Consonant Letters

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The consonants not listed below (b, f, m, n, v) are pronounced as in English. The approximate English equivalents are as follows:

c before a, o, and u is like the English k.

Italian / English
casa  house
fico  fig
con  with
Colosseo  Colosseum
capo  head
Cupido  Cupid
cane  dog
camera  camera
caffè  coffee
culla  cradle

c before e or i is like the English sound ch in chest.

Italian / English
cena  supper
voce  voice
cibo  food
concerto  concert
aceto  vinegar
cinema  cinema
cipolla  onion
facile  easy

ch (found only before e or i) is like the English k.

Italian / English
che  that
chimica  chemistry
perché  because
fichi  figs
chilo  kilo
chi  who
chiuso  closed
anche  also

d is somewhat more explosive than in English, with the tongue near the tip of the upper teeth but with no aspiration.

Italian / English
di  of
data  date
dove  where
due  two
denaro  money
dodici  twelve
donna  woman
lunedì  Monday
moda  fashion
undici  eleven

g before a, o, and u is as in the English word go.

Italian / English
gala  gala
albergo  hotel
gondola  gondola
gamba  leg
gusto  taste
fungo  mushroom
gonna  skirt
gomma  eraser
lungo  long
guanti  gloves
guidare  to drive
lingua  tongue

g before e or i is like the g in gem.

Italian / English
gelato  ice cream
angelo  angel
pagina  page
gente  people
gesso  chalk
gentile  kind
gita  outing
gennaio  January

gh (found only before e or i) is like the g in go.

Italian / English
ghetto  ghetto
funghe  escapes
laghi  lakes
maghi  magicians

gli is approximately like ll in million.

Italian / English
egli  he
meglio  better
figli  sons
famiglia  family
mogli  wives
aglio  garlic
fogli  sheets (of paper)
bottiglia  bottle

gn is approximately like ny in canyon.

Italian / English
signora  lady
lavagna  blackboard
signore  gentleman
bagno  bath
signorina  young lady
sogno  dream
lasagne  lasagna
spugna  sponge

h is silent.

Italian / English
ho  I have
hotel  hotel
ha  has
ahi!  ouch!
hanno  they have

l is as in English, but sharper and more forward in the mouth.

Italian / English
olio  oil
lingua  language
sale  salt
lungo  long
melone  melon
luna  moon
scuola  school
light  light

p is as in English, but without the aspiration that sometimes accompanies this sound in English.

Italian / English
pane  bread
patata  potato
pepe  pepper
papà  dad
popone  melon
ponte  bridge
pipa  pipe
punto  period
pasto  meal
pronuncia  pronunciation
Alpi  Alps
psicologo  psychologist

qu is always pronounced like the English qu in quest.

Italian / English
questo  this
quinto  fifth
quale  which
quarto  fourth
quanto  how much
quantità  quantity
quadro  picture
qualità  quality

r is different from the English r; it is pronounced with one flip of the tongue against the gums of the upper teeth. This is the trilled r.

Italian / English
ora  now
tenore  tenor
albergo  hotel
baritono  baritone
arte  art
orologio  watch
porta  door
sardina  sardine

s is sometimes like the English s in house.

Italian / English
soggiorno  living room
testa  head
stanza  room
festa  party; holiday
posta  mail
stufato  stew
pasta  pasta; dough; pastry
pista  track

s is sometimes (but always before b, d, g, l, m, n, r, and v) like the English s in rose.

Italian / English
rosa  rose
tesoro  treasure
frase  phrase
svelto  quick
sbaglio  mistake
esercizio  exercise
musica  music
sgridare  to scold
susina  plum
sbadato  careless

sc before a, o, or u is like sk in ask.

Italian / English
ascoltare  to listen
scuola  school
pesca  peach
tasca  pocket
toscano  Tuscan
scaloppine  cutlets
scarpa  shoe
scultura  sculpture
disco  disk; record
scopo  purpose

sc before e or i is like the English sound sh in fish.

Italian / English
finisce  finishes
sci  ski
pesce  fish
conoscere  to know
scena  scene
scendere  to descend
uscita  exit
uscio  door

sch occurs only before e or i, and is pronounced like the English sk.

Italian / English
pesche  peaches
tasche  pockets
dischi  disks; records
scheletro  skeleton
fiaschi  flasks
lische  fishbones

t is approximately the same as in English, but no escaping of breath accompanies it in Italian.

Italian / English
contento  glad
carta  paper
arte  art
matita  pencil
turista  tourist
antipasto  appetizer
telefono  telephone
testa  head

z is sometimes voiceless, like ts is bets.

Italian / English
pizza  pizza
negozio  store
marzo  March
Venezia  Venice
grazie  thank you
dizionario  dictionary

z is sometimes voiced, like ds in beds.

Italian / English
zero  zero
zebra  zebra
pranzo  lunch
zelo  zeal
romanzo  novel
zanzara  mosquito

Note:
When ci, gi, and sci are followed by a, o, or u, unless the accent falls on the i, the i is not pronounced. The letter i merely indicates that c, g, and sc are pronounced, respectively, like the English ch, g (as in gem), and sh.

Italian / English
arancia  orange
giornale  newspaper
ciliegia  cherry
ciao  so long
salsiccia  sausage
camicia  shirt
lasciare  to leave
scienza  science

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