Italian alphabet

The Italian Alphabet, l’alfabeto italiano, has 21 letters. These letters are all shared by the English alphabet, but they are not pronounced the same way.

Below is an audio guide to the pronunciation of the letters of the Italian alphabet.

How to pronounce the Italian alphabet

Since the Italian alphabet only has 21 letters, see which are the 5 letters that are in the English alphabet and that are missing here!

First comes the letter in Italian writing and then a representation of how it sounds.

A
A / Aah (as in “father”, just more open)
B
Bi / Bee
C
Ci / Chee
D
Di / Dee
E
E / Eh (as in “end”, a bit closer)
F
Effe / Eh-ffeh
G
Gi / Gee (as in "jeep")
H
Acca / Ah-kka
I
I / Ee
L
Elle / Eh-lleh
M
Emme / Eh-mmeh
N
Enne / Eh-nneh
O
O / Oh (wide “o” as in “front”)
P
Pi / Pee
Q
Qu / Koo
R
Erre / Eh-rreh
S
Esse / Eh-sseh
T
Ti / Tea
U
U / Oo
V
Vi, Vu / Vee, Voo
Z
Zeta / Tseh-tah

Have you noticed? The Italian alphabet lacks J, K, W, X and Y!

They are however present in a few loanwords and have their own pronunciation. They are not included in the official alphabet, as we’ve seen, and all the 26 letters together form the Latin alphabet.

J
I lunga / Ee loon-gah (“long i”)
K
Kappa / Kah-ppah
W
Doppia vi, doppia vu / Doh-ppee-ah vee, voo ("double v")
X
Ics / Eeks
Y
Ipsilon, I greca / Eeps-ee-loh-n, Ee greh-kah ("Greek i")

Now, let’s see each letter in action!

The Italian alphabet pronunciation guide

Ala

Wing

Banana

Banana

Caro

Dear / Expensive (“k” sound)

Cento

One hundred (“ch” sound)

Dado

Dice

Esame

Exam (narrow “e” sound)

Essere

To be (wide “e” sound)

Forte

Strong

Gola

Throat (hard “g” sound)

Giacca

Jacket (soft “g” sound)

Hotel

Hotel (it’s always silent!)

Isola

Island

Limone

Lemon

Mamma

Mom

Nonna

Grandmother

Oppure

Or (close “o” sound)

Orzo

Barley (open “o” sound)

Pane

Bread

Quando

When

Ramarro

A green lizard (tip for pronunciation: keep saying “butter” out loud with an American accent)

Sasso

Rock / Pebble (hard “s” sound)

Slegare

To unbind (soft “s” sound)

Tutto

Everything

Vino

Wine

Zebra

Zebra (soft “z” sound)

Zucchero

Sugar (hard “z” sound)

That's probably enough pronunciation practice of the alphabet in Italian! With these Italian lessons, remember the more you listen, the more you'll be able to recognize words as they're spoken.

Here are a few recommended Italian lessons to try next!

A presto!
Maria DiLorenzi
Rocket Italian


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