A Guide to Italian - The Italian alphabet
What's the Italian alphabet like?
The standard Italian alphabet contains only 21 letters.
You may well have to spell out your name and perhaps your address in Italian. Here is the alphabet and how to pronounce it
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What's significant about the Italian alphabet?
The following letters don’t appear in the Italian alphabet as they’re not used in Italian words, just in foreign loan words:
J - i lunga
K - cappa
W - vu doppia / vi doppia
X - ics
Y - i greca / ipsilon
More vowel sounds than letters
The alphabet has five vowels: a, e, i, o, u
There are two pronunciations for e and o, which change the meaning of the words:
e - and
è - is
Nono - ninth
nonno - grandfather
The Italian alphabet has only 16 consonants and most of them are pronounced as they are in English. So, what’s different?
H isn’t pronounced at the beginning of words, so words like
hanno, they have and anno, year, are pronounced exactly the same
R is rolled with a trill in the front of the mouth: pizzeria
C before e or i sounds like the English ‘ch’: cena, dinner
The Italian ch sounds like ‘k’: chilo, kilo
G before e or i has a soft ‘gee’ sound: giacca, jacket, but
gh sounds like a hard ‘g’: ghirlanda, garland
S can be pronounced ‘s’ as in sì, yes, but when it’s between two vowels, it’s pronounced ‘z’ as in sorpresa, surprise
A double consonant is pronounced twice as long as a single one:
sete - thirst
sette - seven
Other sounds include gl as in tagliatelle roughly pronounced as the 'li' in 'million', or gn, as in ognora, always, roughly pronounced as the 'ni' in 'onion'
Words with the stress on the last syllable carry a written grave accent:
città - city
caffè - coffee
università - university
Very few carry an acute accent except é, e.g.
Some words have the same spelling but are stressed on a different syllable:
ancora - again
ancora - anchor
Email and website conventions
When giving an email or website address the conventions are:
. punto , dot
/ barra, forward slash
- trattino, hyphen