Italian letters and letter combinations and how to remember them
- C before a, o or u is hard as in English – caffè, cornetto, cupola
- C before e or i is soft and sounds like ch in English – dolce, cappuccino
- G before a, o or u is hard as in English – gastronomia, goloso, gusto
- G before e or i is soft and sounds like j in English – gelato, Giro d’Italia
- Sc before e or i is soft and sounds like sh in English – crescendo
- So for a hard c or g before e or i, you have to insert an h – gnocchi, spaghetti, bruschetta (N.B. Bruschetta is not pronounced as many English people do, with a sh sound)
- For a soft c or g before a, o or u, you have to insert an i – ciao, cioccolato, Giovanni, Giulia
- To make sc sound like sh before a, o or u, you have to insert an i – prosciutto
- Z sounds like dz – zanzara (a beautiful onomatopoeic word for mosquito!)
- Zz sounds like ts – pizza
- Gl sounds like lli in million – zabaglione, tagliatelle
- Gn sounds like ny in canyon – lasagne, gnocchi
N.B. You don’t pronounce the g itself in the two cases above
- R is rolled at the front of the mouth, unlike in French.
- Double consonants are appreciably longer than single ones, almost as if you were saying them twice.