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21 lettere dell'alfabeto italiano

Click on each picture to listen to the sound of the letter and the word starting with that letter.

 

The Italian alphabet has 21 letters.

A, E, I, O, U are called "vowels". The others are called "consonants".

 

 

a b c d e f g h i l m n o p q r s t u v z

Lettere non italiane

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These are foreign letters (rarely used in Italian):

j k w x y

Suoni speciali

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These are consonants combined with a vowel or with another consonant. They have a special pronunciation:

chi ci ghi gi gli gn sci

 

Pronuncia

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Italian words end with a vowel (except words of foreign origin - e.g. sport, film, yogurt...):

  • armadio (wardrobe, closet)

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  • lampada (lamp)

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The vowels and the diphtongs (combination of vowels) are clearly articulated:

  • noioso, noiosa (boring)

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  • piede (foot)

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Most Italian words have the stress on the next-to-last syllable:

  • burattino (puppet)

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  • lavorare (to work)

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However, there are many exceptions to this rule and, since the stress is not indicated by a written accent, the only way to learn the correct pronunciation is by listening, memorizing and practicing:

  • leggere (to read)

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  • frigorifero (refridgerator)

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Some words have the stress on the final vowel; they require a written accent:

  • caffè (coffee)

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  • attività (activity)

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In a sentence, the stress usually falls on the last word, and the pitch of the voice drops at the end of the sentence:

  • Pinocchio è italiano. (Pinocchio is Italian.)

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A question is expressed with a rising intonation:

  • Pinocchio è italiano? (Is Pinocchio Italian?)

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Consonanti doppie

Double consonants must be pronounced. When you pronounce a double consonant, just extend the sound while holding the breath for a moment:

  • ballare (to dance)

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  • ginnastica (gymnastics)

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Double consonants are very important because they differentiate words. E.g. "rosa" (pink) "rossa" (red).

 

Certain words have a double consonant only for the "sake of the music" (you know Italian language is very musical). This happens usually when:

  • two words combine (e.g. chi + sa = chissà). Some of these words are: sebbene, fabbisogno, seppure, dammi, fammi, dimmi...
  • words start with "sopra, contro": soprattutto, sopralluogo, soprannome, sopravvivere, contraddire...
  • words start with the prepositions "a, da, fra, su": allo, addosso, davvero, dapprima, frattanto...
  • words start with the conjunctions "e, o, né": eppure, oppure, nemmeno, neppure...
  • ...

Words that do NOT require a double consonant are:

  • ending with "zione" (azione, meditazione, lezione...)
  • starting with "intra" (intravedere, intramuscolo...)

Of course, we always have exceptions. If you are not sure if an Italian word has a double consonant, check the dictionary and use our pronunciation guide.

Attività

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Activity

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