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The Italian alphabet

Consonant (and combination)

Letter Pronuntiation Sound
same as in English it sounds like c in cat c+a casa c+o cosa c+u cuore ch + e che ch + i chi same as in English same as in English it sounds like g in good g+a gatto g+o golfo g+u gufo gh + e ghepardo gh + i ghiaccio silent same as in English same as in English same as in English same as in English same as in English Rolled/trilled if r is in the middle of a word it can be a single r or a double rr. Double rr sounds stronger than single r. like s in because like s in soon same as in English not as sharp same as in English as in ts or dz it sounds like ch in child ci + a ciao ci + o cioccolato ci + u ciuffo c+e cerchio c+i cicogna

b* c* d* f* g* h l* m* n* p* q



di effe


it sounds like j in journey gi + a giallo gi + o gioco gi + u giusto g + e gelato g+i girare pala palla macchina mamma cane canne piscina always qu + a qu + e qu + o caro narro casa cassa tavolo vino pazzo zebra

acca elle emme enne pi qu

r* s* t* v* z*


esse ti vu zeta

Consonants with the symbol * can be double.

gli gn sc j k w x y
gei kappa doppia v ics ipsilon

famiglia castagna like sh before i and e like k elsewhere sci scegliere schema - scatola

appear just in foreign loan words

a e i o u
as in the word ask as in elevated as in the word ink as in the word old as in the ultra

The definite article (the)

Here are some rules for using definite articles: 1. Lo (pl. gli) is used before masculine nouns beginning with: - s + consonant - gn -z 2. Il (pl. i) is used before masculine nouns beginning with all other consonant. 3. L (pl. gli) is used before masculine nouns beginning with a vowel. 4. La (pl. le) is used before feminine nouns beginning with any consonant. 5. L (pl. le) is used before feminine nouns beginning with a vowel. masculin IL I masculin LO/L GLI femenin LA/L LE

singular plural

The article agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies and is repeated before each noun. la CocaCola e laranciata (the Coke and orangeade) gli italiani e i giapponesi (the Italians and the Japanese) le zie e gli zii (the aunts and uncles)

The indefinite article (a/an)

Here are some rules for using indefinite articles: 1. Uno is used before masculine nouns beginning with: - s + consonant - gn -z 2. Un is used before masculine nouns beginning with all other consonant. 3. Una is used before feminine nouns beginning with any consonant. 4. Un is used before feminine nouns beginning with a vowel.


masculin UN

masculin UNO

femenin UNA/UN

un treno e una bicicletta un aeroplano e unautomobile uno stadio e una stazione

Accent marks
In Italian, only vowels have accents. All vowels at the end of a word can have the grave accent (`), but only the e can have both: the grave accent (`) and the acute accent (). The difference lies only in the pronunciation. That is, is pronounced very open, as in hell, whereas is more closed, as in gourmet. Here are some examples:

Caff ("kahf-feh") coffee Citt ("cheet-tah") city Luned ("loo-neh-dee") Monday Perch ("pehr-keh") why; because Per ("peh-roh") but Universit ("oo-nee-vehr-see-tah") university Virt ("veer-too") virtue

Words that have a different meaning depending on the position of the accent: A few words have a different meaning when different syllables carry the accent. Note that the stress is in the underlined syllable:

ncora "ahnkohrah" anchor (noun) ancra "ahnkohrah" again, more (adverb) rgia "rehjah" royal (adjective) rega "rehjyhah" direction of a movie or a play (noun) capitno "kahpytahnoh" captain (noun) cpitano "kahpytahnoh" they happen, they occur (verb) lvati "lahvahtih" wash yourself lavti "lahvahtih" masculine plural of washed

In this case, accents are not mandatory; in most cases they are not used, therefore the correct pronunciation of the word is understood only by the context of the phrase: for instance, considering the third couple of sample words, in sentences such as "sometimes strange things happen" or "he is the captain of the ship", neither of the two words could be mistaken with the other.

Gender and number of nouns

Most Italian nouns (i nomi) end in a vowel. Nouns that end in a consonant are of foreign origin. All nouns in Italian have a gender (il genere); that is, they are either masculine or feminine, even those referring not to people but to things, qualities, or ideas. Generally, nouns ending in -o are masculine, nouns ending in -a are feminine. MASCULINE: amico, treno, dollaro, panino FEMININE: amica, bicicletta, lira, studentessa Nouns ending in -e may be masculine or feminine. The gender of these nouns must be memorized. MASCULINE: studente, ristorante, caff FEMININE: automobile, notte, arte Nouns ending -ione are generally feminine, while nouns ending in -ore are almost always masculine. televisione (f.) television attore (m.) actor nazione (f.) nation autore (m.) author opinione (f.) opinion professore (m.) professor

Nouns ending in a consonant are usually masculine. bar, autobus, film, sport Abbreviated nouns retain the gender of the words from which they are derived. foto f. (from fotografia) cinema m. (from cinematografo) moto f. (from motocicletta) auto f. (from automobile) bici f. (from bicicletta) Italian nouns change their vowel endings to indicate a change in number. SINGOLARE Nouns ending in: -o change to: -a -ca -e amico (m.) friend amici friends studentessa (f.) student studentesse students amica (f.) friend amiche friends studente (m.) student studenti students PLURALE -i -e -che -i

NOTE: Nouns ending with an accented vowel or a consonant do not change in the plural, nor do abbreviated words. caffdue caff filmdue film fotodue foto

Italian adjectives
Italian and English differ in their usage of adjectives. Italian descriptive adjectives are usually placed after the noun they modify, and with which they agree in gender and number. COMMON ITALIAN ADJECTIVES ENDING IN -O allegro buono cattivo freddo grasso leggero nuovo cheerful, happy good, kind bad, wicked cold fat light new

COMMON ITALIAN ADJECTIVES ENDING IN -O pieno stretto timido full narrow timid, shy

Adjectives ending in -o have four forms: masculine singular, masculine plural, feminine singular, and feminine plural. Observe how the adjectives nero and cattivo change to agree with nouns they modify. ENDINGS OF -O ADJECTIVES SINGULAR PLURAL il gatto nero (the black cat, masculine) i gatti neri (the black cats, masculine) la gatta nera (the black cat, feminine) le gatte nere (the black cats, feminine) il ragazzo cattivo (the bad boy) la ragazza cattiva (the bad girl) i ragazzi cattivi (the bad boys) le ragazze cattive (the bad girls)

Note that when an adjective modifies two nouns of different gender, it retains its masculine ending. For example: i padri e le madre italiani (Italian fathers and mothers). Although the majority of Italian adjectives have four forms (as in italiano, italiana, italiani, italiane) there are exceptions. Not all Italian adjectives have a singular form ending in -o. There are a number of adjectives that end in -e. The singular ending -e changes to -i in the plural, whether the noun is masculine or feminine. ENDINGS OF -E ADJECTIVES SINGULAR PLURAL il ragazzo triste (the sad boy) i ragazzi tristi (the sad boys) la ragazza triste (the sad girl) le ragazze tristi (the sad girls) ITALIAN ADJECTIVES ENDING IN -E abile difficile felice forte grande importante intelligente interessante triste able difficult happy strong big, large, great important intelligent interesting sad


There are quite a few other exceptions for forming plural adjectives. For instance, adjectives that end in -io (with the stress falling on that i) form the plural with the ending -ii: addio/addii; leggio/leggii; zio/zii. The table below contains a chart of other irregular adjective endings you should know. FORMING PLURAL ADJECTIVES SINGULAR ENDING PLURAL ENDING -ca -cia -cio -co -ga -gia -gio -glia -glio -go -scia -scio -che -ce -ci -chi -ghe -ge -gi -glie -gli -ghi -sce -sci

Useful phrases
Vieni qua! Andiamo! Sbrigati! / Dai! Ascolta Guarda Buonanotte Buongiorno Ciao

Come here! Lets go! Hurry up! Listen Look Good night Good morning Good bye

Ciao Molto bene / Bravissimo Benissimo Ti voglio bene

Hello Very good Excellent I love you