Simple Italian Pronunciation Guide

Jul 21, 2023

Accurately pronouncing the sounds of Italian can vastly improve your ability to communicate in the language. This guide will introduce you to the essential elements of Italian pronunciation.


Italian has seven vowel sounds, each with a specific pronunciation.

  • a: Like ‘a’ in “father”.
  • e: Two sounds, similar to ‘e’ in “pen” (short) and ‘ay’ in “play” (long).
  • i: Like ‘ee’ in “see”.
  • o: Two sounds, similar to ‘o’ in “pot” (short) and ‘o’ in “no” (long).
  • u: Like ‘oo’ in “boot”.


Italian consonants are generally pronounced as they are in English, with some exceptions:

  • c: Pronounced like ‘k’ before ‘a’, ‘o’, ‘u’ or a consonant. Like ‘ch’ in “church” before ‘e’ or ‘i’.
  • g: Hard like ‘g’ in “go” before ‘a’, ‘o’, ‘u’ or a consonant. Soft like ‘g’ in “general” before ‘e’ or ‘i’.
  • h: Silent on its own. Used to harden the sounds of ‘c’ and ‘g’ when followed by ‘e’ or ‘i’.
  • r: Rolled, particularly at the beginning of words.
  • s: Like ‘s’ in “see” when at the beginning of a word, between two vowels, or followed by a voiced consonant. Like ‘z’ in “zoo” when before a voiceless consonant.
  • z: Either like ‘ts’ in “bits” or like ‘dz’ in “adze”.


In Italian, stress usually falls on the second-to-last syllable of a word. Words ending with accented vowels or certain endings may have different stress patterns.

Practicing Pronunciation

Improving pronunciation takes practice. Listen to native Italian speakers and repeat the sounds, words, and sentences they use to enhance your pronunciation skills. Remember to be patient with yourself and continue practicing!

For Teachers

Learn how to link this guide to your speakable speaking assignments: Setting Students Up for Success: Guide to using Text Cards for Instructions.

This guide is a simplified overview and is not exhaustive. Pronunciation can vary widely across different Italian-speaking regions. If your students are learning a specific dialect, some of these guidelines may need to be adjusted.


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