Want to sound like a local as you order that mid-morning cappuccino?
Here are a few key phrases and a couple hints on pronouncing the Italian language which, once mastered, will help you sound like a true paisano.
1. Pronounce every letter in the word, including the letters at the end of the word.
2. Master the pronunciation of vowels. They are different from vowels in English.
“A” is pronounced like ‘a’ in fAther, NOT as in hAte (e.g., pasta).
“E” is pronounced like ‘e’ in bEst, not hE (e.g., bene).
“I” is pronounced like ‘ee’ in sheep, and has to be short, not as in rIght (e.g., pizza).
“O” is pronounced like ‘o’ in pOlice, NOT as in officer (e.g., molto).
“U” is pronounced like oo in Ooze (e.g., tiramisu).
3. ”R” in Italian is always pronounced STRONGLY. Imagine the sound of children imitating an electric buzzer with the tip of their tongue (e.g., buon giorno).
4. Double consonants have to be pronounced by lingering on the first of the two consonants (e.g., MaMma).
Need more help?
Check out VOCABOLaudio.com. Use the search field to look for words and click the icon to hear it pronounced.
Good morning Buon giorno (Used in the morning until just after lunch.)
Good afternoon/evening Buona sera (Italians usually start to say Buona Sera once the shops start re-opening around 3:30 p.m.)
Good night Buona notte (Used at the end of the evening, when you’re going to bed.)
Hello/goodbye (informal) Ciao (Used in informal situations, with people you know.)
Goodbye (formal) Arrivederci
Excuse me Mi scusi
I’m sorry! Mi dispiace
Please Per favore
Thank you Grazie
Thanks a lot! Grazie mille!
You’re welcome Prego
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