L’alfabeto Italiano: Your Simple Italian Alphabet Guide

Blog
06 September 2022
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House

The trouble with learning Italian means that you have to master the Italian alphabet by heart. And why by heart? Well, that’s because learning the alphabet by heart helps you understand the writing and the words of the language easier. But don’t worry, the Italian alphabet is really not that complicated.

Italian is a phonetic language and it has a very phonetic orthography, so the pronunciation is pretty much fixed. But, some of its letters can actually change in pronunciation under different conditions. For example, the letter G can both have a hard G and a soft G/J sound. Ga–, Go–, Gu-, Ghi–, or Ghe– are pronounced with a hard G, similar to the G sound in the English word gallery. While Gi– and Ge– are pronounced with a soft G, similar to the G sound in the English word gender. Hear the difference?

When learning the Italian alphabet, be sure to remember these pronunciation guidelines:
    ●    “Gn” sounds more like the “Ny” pronunciation
    ●    “C” has a hard C sound when it is followed by the vowels: A, O, U
    ●    “C” has a soft C sound when it is followed by the vowels: I and E
            ◦    “C” has a hard C sound when a letter H is in between C and I or E (chi or che)
    ●    “G” has a hard G sound when it is followed by the vowels: A, O, U
    ●    “G” has a soft G sound when it is followed by the vowels: I and E
            ◦    “G” has a hard G sound when a letter H is in between G and I or E (ghi or ghe)
    ●    “G” has a very soft sound when it is followed by a “Li + a vowel”
            ◦    example: aglio = ay-yo
    ●    “H” is never pronounced when it is at the beginning of a word
            ◦    example: hotel = oh-tel
    ●    “S” is pronounced as the Z when in between two vowels
            ◦    example: casa = ca-za
    ●    “Z” is pronounced as TZ when in between letters
            ◦    example: pizza = pi-tza

Letter
Sound
Italian Word
Pronunciation
A a aa Ananas (a-na-nas)
B b bi Blu (blu)
C c ci Cane (ca-neh)
D d di Detto (de-toh)
E e eh Emulo (eh-mu-loh)
F f effe Flan (flan)
G g gi Grinta (grin-ta)
H h acca Ho (oh)
I i i Infermiera (in-fer-mye-rah)
J j jota Limone (li-mo-neh)
L l elle Limone (li-mo-neh)
M m emme Marmellata (mar-me-la-tah)
N n enne Notte (no-teh)
O o o Oliva (oh-li-vah)
P p pi Pesce (pe-sheh)
Q q cu Quaglia (kway-lya)
R r erre Ratto (rra-toh)
S s esse Serpente (ser-pen-teh)
T t ti Tavolo (ta-vo-lo)
U u u Urbana (ur-ba-na)
V v vi,vu, Viola (vi-oh-la)
Z z zeta Zebra (zeh-bra)

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