Language Information

Italian alphabet

A a

B b

C c

D d

E e

F f

G g

H h

I i

L l

M m

a

bi

ci

di

e

effe

gi

acca

i

elle

emme

N n

O o

P p

Q q

R r

S s

T t

U u

V v

Z z

 

enne

o

pi

cu

erre

esse

ti

u

vi/vu

zeta

 

Pronunciation

Italian is written using the Latin alphabet. The letters J, K, W, X and Y are not part of the standard Italian alphabet, but are seen in imported words (such as jeans, whiskey, taxi). J may also appear in many words from different dialects. Each of these foreign letters had an Italian equivalent spelling: gi, ch, u, cs or s, and i, but these are now obsolete.

        Italian uses the acute accent over the letter E to indicate a closed vowel, and the grave accent to indicate an open vowel. The grave accent is also used on letters A, O and U to mark the stress position when it is on the last letter of a word. Typically, the penultimate syllable is stressed. If other syllables are stressed, no accent is marked, as is instead done in Spanish.

        The letter H is always silent when it begins a word, and is only used to distinguish ho, hai, ha, hanno from o (or), ai (to the), a (to), anno (year). H is otherwise used for some combinations with other letters (see below), but the /h/ sound does not exist in Italian.

        The letter Z is pronounced /ʦ/, or sometimes /ʣ/, depending on context, though there are few minimal pairs.

        The letters C and G are affricates: /ʧ/ and /ʤ/, respectively, before the front vowels I and E. They are pronounced as plosives /k/, /g/ otherwise. But, the normally silent H is added between CI, CE, GI or GE if the consonant is to be a plosive.

        There are two special digraphs in Italian: GN and GL. GN is always pronounced as /ɲ/, and GL is pronounced as /ʎ/ but only before i, and never when at the beginning of the word, except in the plural form gli of the masculine definite article.

        In general all letters are clearly pronounced, and always in the same way. Spelling is clearly phonetic and difficult to mistake given a clear pronunciation. Exceptions are generally only found in foreign borrowings. There is less dyslexia than in languages like English.

Grammar

Italian verb infinitives have one of three endings, either -are, -ere, or -ire. While the majority of verbs is regular, many of the most commonly used ones are irregular.

Nouns and adjectives in Italian have gender (masculine or feminine, but no neuter), and number (singular or plural). The gender and number is always shown by the leading article (definite or indefinite), and usually by the final vowel.

The Definite Article

The Indefinite Article

        Masculine: un (uno before an impure consonant sound)

        Feminine: una (un' before a vowel)

Italian tenses are:

The basic word order is Subject-Verb-Object. The subject, if a pronoun, is usually omitted - distinctive verb conjugations make it redundant. Subject pronouns are considered emphatic when used at all.

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