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Pronunciation part 1

A Guide to Italian Pronunciation

Italian spelling is highly phonetic. This means that letters and combinations of letters almost always represent the same sounds. In English, on the contrary, a single letter or combination of letters may well represent three, four or more sounds. For those studying Italian, this means there is quite a number of sounds to remember and learn how to pronounce, but also that, once this hardstep is taken, speaking with correct phonetics will no longer difficult.

Italian Vowels (Vocali Italiane)

Vowels in Italian are pronounced fully and distinctly, and are never slurred.

 Vowel – Prononciation

     a         ah 

     e         eh

     i          ee

    o          oh

    u          oo

Let’s now try to  match vowels with consonants.  For example the consonant m, which correspond to the sound of English “m:”

The Italian ma,  me, mi, mo, mu is pronounced: mah meh mee moh moo

So, when you look at the Italian ma me mi mo mu,  you must say: mah meh mee moh moo.

Swap the “m” for an “n”, and we get  nah neh nee noh noo. 

So, look at the Italian na ne ni no nu and say: nah neh nee noh noo. 

The following Italian consonants have the same sound as in English, just as ‘”m” and “n” do:


ba be bi bo bu –  bah beh bee boh boo


da de di do du – dah deh dee doh doo –  As in English, but with the tip of the tongue touching the upper teeth. (Like a Spanish “d”)


fa fe fi fo fu –     fah feh fee foh foo


la le li lo lu –       lah leh lee loh loo


pa pe pi po pu –   pah peh pee poh poo


sa se si so su –   sah seh see soh soo


ta te ti to tu –      tah teh tee toh too –   As in English, but with the tip of the tongue touching the upper teeth.(Like a Spanish “t”)

va ve vi vo vu –    vah veh vee voh voo

(By the way knowing how to correctly pronounce the Italian consonants “d,” “t,” and “r” can greatly help you lose your English accent when speaking Italian.

By David Tice

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