Resources and Tricks for Learning Italian

Photo Credit to  Practical

Photo Credit to Practical

Learning a second language (or third or fourth or twelfth) can be challenging, enjoyable, frustrating, rewarding, and just plain ol’ take a lot of your brain power, thoughts, and time.

If you weren’t lucky enough to grow up immersed in a bi or multilingual family, then you can hop on the struggle boat with the rest of us while learning another language.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably studying or thinking about starting to learn a new language, maybe Italian, and I commend you! Or, maybe you are curious as to what it might take, or are looking for resources for someone else. Whatever brings you, I’m glad you’re here, and I hope this post might help you or a friend out.

When it comes to learning a language, you will be most successful if you are fully immersed. You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating because it’s true.

If you aren’t immersed, don’t despair. Taking a trip to a country that speaks your desired language or finding a friend, community, or group in your city or online that you can practice with can make a big difference! Even if these are not possible for you, there are still ways to learn a language successfully.

I for one will do everything in my power to search and learn things for free. I don’t want to pay for school, tutors, programs, books, more books, some more books, and a couple more programs if I don’t need to. (Yes, you can say it, I’m a tightwad.:) Those are all helpful and good things, and if you have the resources to do those things, go for it! But there is more to the equation than just “intensive Italian school = Italian fluency.”

There is a principal ingredient you need to learn Italian or any language: drive. The drive, desire, patience, and determination to learn and work through the moments of frustration and plateaus. If you have the drive but don’t live in Italy, you will still make good progress. On the other hand, if you move to Italy and have no great desire to learn Italian, you will probably pick up very little Italian. It still surprises me how many people I come across who have lived in Italy for years and still can only speak very basic Italian. Some people learn quicker than others and the younger you are the easier it is, but still. You’re only doing yourself a favor if you learn the language and it’s respectful of the culture you are now in. I know it’s way easier to live with and hang out with your culture and every once in awhile order a gelato in Italian…but if you want to learn, get comfortable being outside of your comfort zone.

This may leave you asking, “How long does it take to learn Italian?” I asked people I met and friends this a lot my first year in Italy, those who weren’t native Italian-speakers. Almost everyone responded with “about a year.” Knowing various nationalities who speak varying levels of Italian, I would like to amend the 1 year guideline so you don’t feel too much pressure or behind. You will probably have learned Italian fairly well after 1 year IF you are immersed in the culture and also consistently speaking with others in Italian. If you have Italian friends, live with an Italian roommate, work in an Italian setting, study at an Italian school, or date/marry an Italian speaker, this 1 year guideline could very well be true for you. Otherwise, expect longer and no shame! As long as you are learning new words and concepts and they stay with you, you are on the right track.

Enough philosophy-ing and let’s get to these resources, most of which are free, or if they’re not, I truly think they’re worth it! Keep in mind that the more resources and ways you can expose yourself to a language, the more success you will have. Try not to ever get stuck using just one, i.e. Duolingo or the back of Rick Steve’s Travel Guide. :)

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Resources and Tricks for Learning Italian

  • This Italian Verb Drills book

    One of my best friends went to Italy as an au pair and she used this book while learning with her Italian family. Shortly after she got back I went to Italy, and she passed it on to me.

    It’s not overly complex because it only covers verb forms, but it’s the simplicity of its layout I think that makes it so useful. And once you understand the verbs, it’s like a door opens for understanding the language.

    Honestly, if you were to take just one of the suggestions from this post to add to your current learning methods, I would probably recommend this one.

    Pros: Easy to use, excellent for learning verbs, a main component of any language. It’s also pretty cheap. You can also find French, German, Latin, Spanish Verb Drills easily on Amazon, all for about the same price, $10-$12.

    Cons: Not free, and will only help with verbs and not other aspects of the language.

  • Duolingo

    If learning a language has ever been on your radar, you’ve probably used or at least heard of Duolingo.

    Pros: Free, tons of languages to choose from, easy to use, fun, and accessible. You can use it on your computer or download the app on your phone to use anywhere, anytime.

    Cons: New words aren’t always easy to remember, and there is no way to go back and easily reference what you’ve learned without doing the lessons over again. They recommend you write down the words you’ve remember after each lesson, but I think they could also provide a list of things learned for each section/level.

    I also think they could explain concepts better. While you can often click on words or phrases which opens up a discussion board, that becomes quite entailed to do so every time especially since anyone can comment on the message boards and they can be quite long. For example, I’d rather have someone explain to me that when “a” and “an” in Italian (un/una) is in front of a masculine word that starts with a vowel, it remains separate from the word, but when it’s in front of a feminine word that starts with a vowel, it is separated by an apostrophe.

    Un amico (masculine) - or - un’amica (feminine).

    Otherwise in Duolingo they would just give me sentences that include this idea, but without actually explaining it. It’s up to you, as the learner, to notice that, hey, why do un and una sometimes stay separate and sometimes are separated by an apostrophe? See what I mean? If not, don’t worry, suffice to say that Duolingo as you’re only learning source will only get you so far.

  • Babbel

    Another online resource similar to Duolingo. Trying new programs and keeping a variety may be more fun and thus make you more likely to want to practice every day instead of the “I should….” Plus every program has their unique approach and you might learn some words you wouldn’t with other programs.

    Pros: Free, easy to use, plenty of languages to choose from.

    Cons: To get the full experience you will have to pay, but even just using the free part is worthwhile!

  • Translator App

    Having a trusty translator app on your phone can help you learn, too! Anytime you’re practicing, even if you’re just thinking through things, there will probably be words that come up that you don’t know what they mean or you’re saying or thinking a sentence and missing a word. Pop out your phone to translate throughout the day.

    iTranslator is my favorite translator probably. It’s simple and I like that when you translate a word, below it often gives you all the person tenses (if it’s a verb) or all the different synonyms or similar words if it’s a noun or adjective.

    Google Translate App is another good one. It’s a bit snazzier, you can even scan a chunk of text and it will translate it on your screen so you don’t have to type anything in, although it doesn’t always work super great.

    A word to the wise, don’t trust a translator 100%, especially for longer sentences or paragraphs. It’s a computer and doing its best, but it can’t really know exactly what you’re after. Then add in all the dialects, slang, phrases that don’t translate well, and words that just may not exist in that language and well, just realize it’s not going to be perfect. Always run by new words with a native speaker if you can, especially if you have any doubts.

  • Coffeebreak Italian

    This is a podcast where you get to listen to a man with a lovely Scottish accent while learning Italian. They also have several other languages, I recently started Coffeebreak French to brush up for my impending trip to Paris. Eeeeeee!!

    Pros: Listening to a language is SO important, and what better way than to have it clearly explained to you through a hands off podcast? Great for when you’re driving, making dinner, or anytime!

    Cons: No visuals, so you can’t see how words are written, which isn’t helpful for my visual learning friends. It can also get annoying to have to keep backing up if you couldn’t hear over honking horns or you want to hear something again.

  • Italian Books

    If you take a trip to Italy or can find some ones that interest you on Amazon, reading books in Italian is a great way to learn. I suggest reading children’s books (seriously, baby animal and counting books are wonderful for beginners!) and books you are familiar with unless you have a pretty good handle on Italian.

    Pros: Reading is good for you, and reading in Italian is also so good for you! If you read adult books it can actually be quite difficult and you will quickly find out how many words you have to learn, but on the upside books contain so many words (no, really Jenny?) that you will see certain words over and over again, thus emblazing them upon your memory.

    Cons: There is a special verb tense for writing in Italian. It’s not usually spoken so you really only learn it by reading. However, if you are an avid reader just beware that those verbs won’t serve you in everyday conversations.

  • Write

    I recommend keeping a small notebook handy with you, maybe in your car or purse, to write down all the new words you learn. Writing things down help to cement them in your memory, even if you never reference back to them. And when you can’t remember that word you learned yesterday, you have it handy!

    You can also try journaling or writing out your calendar in Italian.

  • Netflix

    Now you can Netflix and chill and be “studying”…yesssss. If you have Netflix (or even Hulu or other paid prescriptions, but I’m not sure on the others) go into the settings on your profile and change your language preference to Italian. Now all the films that are available in Italian or with Italian subtitles will show up on this account. The selection will be different, so you probably want to keep at least one other profile with English or your native language. Similar to reading books, I recommend starting with movies or shows you are familiar with. Watching them in Italian the first time may crack you up, but it will help you understand them better. Disney was my best friend when I started watching films in Italian. I actually went to the Italian grocery store once when they had a sale on Disney movies for 5-7euro each…research, ya know? ;)

  • Language Tandem Partner

    Having a language tandem partner ( a person with which you exchange languages, i.e. I, an American, might meet up with an Italian where we would spend time speaking in both English and Italian) is super helpful. You get to hear a native speaker and listen, I mean, pick up on their accent, and ask all the questions you want while practicing your language in real time.

    If you happen to live in Italy, there are Facebook groups called AEGEE and Language Exchange that you can join. Depending on what city you live in, you will join your respective city’s group. I’m a part of AEGEE - Firenze and Language Exchange in Florence - Language Tandem. Usually you post in the group introducing yourself, English or Italian is best so everyone can understand, and ask if someone would like to meet up with you. I specified that I wanted to meet up with a woman, because I don’t love meeting up with strange men, ya know? Then you’ll probably get several messages from people who saw your post and would like to meet up with you. I still got WAY more men messaging me than women, even some offering me romantic sunsets and rides on their vespa…tempting, but no. Then you choose who you want to meet up with! The AEGEE group also offers free courses in various languages and organized events or trips.

    Pros: Free and a good way to make new friends. Plus you get to learn all the best spots to eat and drink around the city, from a local!

    Cons: This may only work if you live in Italy or can find someone who speaks Italian in your area. Also can be quite intimidating the first few times, especially for uh, introverts. But I wouldn’t know by experience, nope!

  • Think in Italian

    This isn’t a resource as much as it is a suggestion. As you go throughout your day, try thinking in Italian! This is best done after you have a decent base, but you’ll soon find words you don’t know and become curious how to say them. As I hinted above, use a translator app to learn new words throughout your day. For a bonus, put sticky notes around the house with new words or phrases, or ones that you’re having a hard time learning.

Are you learning or have you learned a second+ language? What really helped you learn? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

How to Learn Some Italian Using Words You Already Know - Lesson 3

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Here we are at the third and final installment of this little series, “How to Learn Some Italian Using Words You Already Know.”

What originally began as my fascination with the amount of English words used in Italian ended up turning into these comical learn-Italian-effortlessly lessons. Aren’t you glad I decided to write them down? Heheheh. :)

In Lesson 1 we saw all the English words Italians use in every day conversations, or that are the same. Words like budget, Facebook, privacy, password, etc.

In Lesson 2 we saw all the Italian words we can learn simply by adding vowels onto the end of English words, like tubo, musica, dieta, cono, etc.

After Lesson 2 you might be feeling pretty snazzy with all the new words you learned. If you spend any time listening to or reading Italian, maybe you have started to keep an eye out for other words that can easily be deciphered. You’ll probably notice plenty of them that didn’t even make it in these lessons!

Therefore, before things get too comfy, I am going to burst your bubble a bit in Lesson 3. How lovely. We are still going to learn some new words, but we will look at a variety of words that are the same (at least written) or that you think would be the same or mean something similar. But they’re not, or they don’t.

For example, let’s look at the word “peperoni.” You might be looking at an Italian pizza menu and spot a friendly face: Peperoni Pizza. (Truly it would probably be called “Pizza ai Peperoni” or “Pizza con Peperoni” but regardless, you understand “pizza” and “peperoni,” right? Maybe not—>) You order your peperoni pizza while snickering at how they spelled “pepperoni” with only one “p” instead of two. Your pizza arrives and to your shock and dismay, you have a cheese pizza with bell peppers, not pepperoni, and are snickering no more. This is an all too common mistake made by meat-loving American tourists, as indeed “peperoni” means bell peppers in Italian, not spicy-meat-sausage-pizza-condiment.

One more for ya: If you saw the word “arma” you might think it means “arm.” I probably would, too. But guess what? It actually means “weapon.” So don’t go around saying what a nice “arma” that person has, thinking you’re complimenting their strong biceps, alright?

You’ll be happy to see that today’s list is not as extensive as the other lessons, but I’m sure it will continue to expand as I’ve been adding new words almost daily to the other lessons since I’ve posted them. If you want to be of help in growing any of these lists, drop me a note in the comments below!

Italian Words That Are Not All That They Seem

  1. Camera (CAH-mair-a) - not a photo camera, but a room. An apartment with two camere.

  2. Lampone (Lahm-PO-nay) - you might think this means lamp, but it actually means raspberry.

  3. Lampo (LAHM-po) - still doesn’t mean lamp, but this refers to a twinkle, flash of light, or lightning. I frequently get this confused with lampone and am forever saying “ohhh, did you see that raspberry in the sky?” It’s embarrassing.

  4. Stiro (STEE-ro) - not stir, but a verb that means “I iron.”

  5. Topo (TO-po) - I’m on topo of the world! Nope. Topo means mouse.

  6. Formica (for-MEE-ca) - You might be thinking formica countertops? Nope. Formica means ant. So you might have a formica or two on your formica.

  7. Peperoni (peh-per-OHN-ee) - As mentioned above, this is not pepperoni misspelled, but actually bell peppers. By the way, I love peperoni on my pizza! Give me all the pizze ai peperoni! ;)

  8. Sale (SAH-lay) - Shopping friends, don’t get too excited, this doesn’t mean

  9. Salsa - salsa means sauce. While Americans take salsa to mean the spicy red tomato and pepper sauce (ya know, chips and salsa?), this is used much more generically in Italian. It can be used to mean a dressing, condiment, sauce, gravy, etc. You can also say sugo, which is a bit more specifically translated to sauce. So if you’re deciding which sauce you want to go with your pasta, you would be better off saying sugo.

  10. Moka - if you hear someone talking about moka, you might be thinking of the mocha with coffee and chocolate. What they’re probably referring to, though, is a moka pot, the instrument of choice for making espresso at home!

  11. Latte - another word that often results with tourists in a conundrum. Latte as it is known in the English speaking world is really a shortened form of caffè latte, which is Italian in origin. So when you try and order a simple latte in Italy, you will end up with a glass of milk. If you want a latte WITH coffee, then go ahead and order that caffè latte, sometimes also spelled caffelatte or caffellatte.

  12. Kebab - While we could call anything in America that’s skewered (fruit, meat, veggies) a kebab, in Italy it refers to the very large hunk of mixed meats that is skewered and slowly roasted while rotating. This meat is shaved as it’s roasted and used to make kebab wraps or sandwiches, referred to as just kebabs. It has origins in the Middle East, and is why most of the kebab restaurants will be Pakistani, Turkish, Indian, etc. It’s delicious, by the way.

  13. Granite (grah-NEE-tay) - more countertops? No, rather the Italian version of a slushy. I’ve never had one, maybe because I don’t really like slushies. I’m sure if I tried one, in its little 8oz-ish cup with fresh fruit flavors, I would enjoy it, especially if I were in Sicily where they’re supposed to be the bomb.

  14. Gusto (GOOS-toh) - I always thought we used this to mean with oomph, with style, in English. As in, “he swirled his cape with gusto.” In Italian, this means taste. So it still kinda works, “he swirled his cape with taste.” Eh, not quite the same.

  15. Punto (POON-toh) - Not a football punt, but a point, period, or dot. Get my punto?

  16. Solo - dance solo, flying solo? Yes, finally one that is more or less correct! Solo means by yourself, alone, or just or only, as in “just one pizza, please!” How many cones of gelato did you eat today? “Solo uno!” (Only one!)

  17. Mano (MAH-no) - if someone asks you if want a mano, they’re asking if you want a hand, not a man, silly. Man is uomo. Mano is hand.

  18. Oro - do you want pizza oro pasta? <——Not correct usage. Oro means gold. The Italian way to say “sweet dreams” is to say “sogni d’oro” or literally, dream of gold! Awwwwwww.

  19. Argento - maybe this one isn’t all that close to Argentinian, but if I didn’t know what it meant that would probably be my guess. It actually means silver! Now that you know how to say both silver and gold in Italian, you can sing your favorite song come Christmas time. Argentooooo e oroooo, argentoooo e oroooo..!!

  20. Avvocato - if you ask someone what they do for a living and they respond with, “I’m an avvocato,” they’re not delusional, they mean that they’re a lawyer. That double v and t for a d makes a very big difference in differentiating between our little green friend and a career choice.

  21. Slip (sleep) - we might say slip in reference to an under-dress or under-skirt, but in Italian this refers to underwear. This can be men’s briefs or ladies’ undies.

  22. Casino (cah-ZEE-no) - you might think Italians talk an awful lot about casinos as you hear them mutter, “che casino!”, but this really means “what a mess.” If you come to Italy to live you too will soon be muttering this under your breath, often and fervently. To say casino it’s actually casinò, with the accent on the end.

  23. Per - this literally means for in Italian, and although it is used in both languages, we use it a bit differently in English. If you want to translate the English per to Italian, sometimes it’s per, other times a. “Let’s make 3 cookies per person” / “Facciamo 3 dolcetti per persona.” “We earn about $100 per day” / “Guadagniamo circa $100 al giorno.” It can also be used to talk multiplication. Five times five equals twenty-five. Or cinque per cinque fa venticinque.

  24. Grasso - what a nice, lovely yard of green grasso you have there! Grasso means fat. We basically just insulted someone’s fat yard. If you want to say grass, say erba.

  25. Grosso - not gross, but another way of saying big, fat, and wide. For example, the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is called “Il Mio Grosso Grasso Matrimonio Greco” in Italian. If you wish to say gross, say schifo. Che schifo! / How gross!

  26. Fine (FEE-nay) - La fine / the end! Not “Fine and dandy!”

  27. Arma - this one we also discussed above, so you should be wise enough to know it doesn’t mean arm, but rather weapon. Unless you swing a good one and want to think of your arm as a good one?

  28. Pronto - “I need the report pronto!” meaning right away, asap…in Italian, this means ready, and also what they say when they answer the phone. “Pronto? ahh ciao Chiara, come va?”

  29. Vesto / Vesti / Veste - none of which mean vest. These are the first, second, and third person of the verb vestire which means to dress, so I dress, you dress, and he/she dresses, respectively. Sounds like an article of clothing but refers to dressing, easy enough to remember, no?

Here we are, 3 lessons later, actually 4 if you needed a refresher on the Italian alphabet and pronunciation. What have learned? Oh, ya know, only 200+ new Italian words!

How to Learn Some Italian Using Words You Already Know - Lesson 2

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In the first lesson of How to Learn Some Italian Using Words You Already know we focused on all the English words Italians use on a daily basis, thus making our lives that much easier when trying to communicate. There are over 70 words, in fact, that are either English, the same in Italian and English, or so similar that you understand anyway, and I keep finding words to add to that list!

To read Lesson 1, click here.

For Lesson 2 we are going to focus on taking the English words you can turn into Italian, simply by adding a vowel on the end. (If you hadn’t noticed from lesson 1, these lessons aren’t exactly serious… they aren’t aimed at the studious, full-time Italian-language student, but rather can be enjoyed by anyone, whether you speak any Italian or not. :)

If you have spent any time around the Italian culture (or just watching The Godfather) you will have noticed that Italian words all end in vowels, and that it’s very easy to imitate them by adding a vowel on to any word. This is often found highly entertaining by other cultures (ahem, American), even if it (obviously) ends with made-up words. '“Yes, ciao, I will take-o the pizza and the pasta to take-away-o!”

If you don’t want to sound like you are speaking Ameritalian or someone who has lived their whole life imitating Italian stereotypes, read this post about the Italian alphabet and pronunciation of key letters. Some words in the list that follows are spelled the same as in English but with a vowel on the end, but the pronunciation might be slightly different. Likewise, some are spelled differently but are pronounced the same, aside from that last vowel, of course. If I don’t indicate how it should be pronounced, that means the accent and pronunciation stay essentially the same as in English.

One more note to remember as we progress: Italian words are split into two categories, feminine and masculine, usually ending in a or o, respectively. The ending of adjectives can fluctuate, depending on if the word or person they are describing is masculine or feminine. For example, “buono” is an adjective that means “good,” and you could say “oliO buonO” or “pizzA buonA.”

One more example to make sure we’re clear, let’s take #1 from the list below. I am an American, (and a woman) so I would say, “sono un’Americana.” I can’t (or shouldn’t) say “sono un Americano” because the adjective “Americano” no longer matches what it is describing, me the woman. So if you see the o/a below or realize a word is an adjective, remember it depends on if the noun the adjective is describing is masculine or feminine!

Ok, ready to add to your Italian vocabulary?

English Words to Which You Can Add Vowels to Make Italian Words

  1. American, Italian, Indian, and others / Americano/a, Italiano/a, Indiano/a - This holds true for several nationalities, but not all. For example, Australian is Australiano/a, but British is Inglese and French is Francese, Ah well, helpful for some!

  2. Person / Persona (per-SOHN-a)

  3. Tube / Tubo

  4. Cube / Cubo (COO-Boh)

  5. Sphere / Sfera (SFAIR-ah)

  6. Case / Caso (CAH-zo) - in any caso…

  7. Event / Evento - Hey let’s go to that evento!

  8. Concert / Concerto (cone-CHAIR-toh)

  9. Art / Arte

  10. Ballet / Balletto - Ah, finally you can pronounce that “t” sound like you’ve always been tempted to!

  11. Dance / Danza (DAH-nza)

  12. Music / Musica (MOO-zee-cah)

  13. Tambourine / Tamburino

  14. Battery / Batteria (Baht-TAIR-ee-ah) - this also can refer to drums.

  15. Angelic / Angelico/a (ahn-JEL-ee-co)

  16. Content / Contento/a - I am so contenta to see you!

  17. Conversion / Conversione (cohn-VAIR-zee-ohn-ay)

  18. Impression / Impressione (eem-PRESS-ee-ohn-ay)

  19. Candle / Candela (cahn-DEL-ah)

  20. Diamond / Diamante (dee-ah-MAHN-tay)

  21. Mark / Marchio note that there is also “marca” but that means a brand or make, such as Gucci or Ferrari, rather than a mark on something.

  22. Television / Televisione (tel-eh-viz-ee-OHN-ay)

  23. Kiosk / Chiosco (kee-OH-sco) - or newspaper stand.

  24. Zone / Zona

  25. Current / Corrente (cohr-EHN-tay) - this can be used for all forms of “current” in English, current in water, current events, etc.

  26. Equilibrium / Equilibrio (ee-quil-EE-bree-oh)

  27. Diet / Dieta (dee-EH-ta)

  28. Vitamin / Vitamina (vee-tah-MEE-na) - Let’s go soak up some vitamina d!

  29. Ingredient / Ingrediente (een-GREY-dee-en-tay)

  30. Rice / Riso ( REE-zo)

  31. Cone / Cono

  32. Carrot / Carota (cah-ROH-ta)

  33. Melon / Melone (Meh-LOHN-ay)

  34. Marmalade / Marmellata (mar-may-LAH-ta) - you might not eat marmalade very often, but “marmellata” refers to all jams, jellies, and marmalades.

  35. Olive / Oliva (oh-LEE-va)

  36. Liquor/Liqueur / Liquore - although liquor refers to stronger spirits (vodka, taquila, etc.) and liqueur to sweeter spirits (Kahlua, Bailey’s, etc.) both of these are encompassed in the Italian “liquore.”

  37. Cream / Crema - this can refer to any kind of cream, such as a face cream or a cream you would eat. Crema is also how you would say “pudding” in Italian.

  38. Spinach / Spinaci (spee-NAH-chee)

  39. Protein / Proteine (pro-tay-EEN-ay)

  40. Pork / Porco it’s also often referred to as “maiale”

  41. Pen / Penna - if this word looks familiar, that’s because yes, penne pasta literally means “pens” in Italian! Remember to lay those n’s on nice and thick, because if you take away one “n” you end up with a completely different word that you definitely don’t want to be ordering for dinner! (If I got you curious, it’s anatomy, not a swear word or worse, but you can go translate it because I prefer to keep this blog G rated. :)

  42. Train / Treno (TRAY-no)

  43. Airplane / Aeroplano (air-oh-PLAHN-o)

  44. Airport / Aeroporto (air-oh-PORT-o)

  45. Bank / Banca (BAHN-ca)

  46. Post / Posta - this can refer to the post in your mailbox as well as the actual post office.

  47. Postal / Postale (post-AHL-ay)

  48. Pharmacy / Farmacia (far-ma-chee-ah)

  49. University / Università (oon-ee-vers-ee-TAH)

  50. Camp / Campo (CAHM-po) also means field, realm, sphere, domain, any of those kinds of camp.

  51. Metal / Metallo (Meh-TAHL-lo)

  52. Metallic / Metallico/a

  53. Atomic / Atomica (Ah-TOH-mee-ca)

  54. Comic / Comico/a also known as a comedian or used as an adjective to describe something funny

  55. Animal / Animale (ahn-ee-MAHL-ay)

  56. Elephant / Elefante

  57. Lion / Leone (lay-OHN-ay)

  58. Dolphin / Delfino (del-FEEN-o)

  59. Serpent / Serpente

  60. Rat / Ratto

  61. Vote / Voto

  62. System / Sistema (sees-TAIM-a)

  63. Problem / Problema

  64. Terrible / Terribile (tair-REE-bee-lay)

  65. Crucial / Cruciale (croo-CHYA-lay)

  66. Special / Speciale (speh-CHYA-lay)

  67. Incredible / Incredibile (in-cred-EE-bee-lay)

  68. Important / Importante (eem-por-TAHN-tay)

  69. Fine / Fino - thin, the dimension, not “fine, be that way.”

  70. False / Falso - true or falso?

  71. Liberty / Libertà

  72. Destiny / Destino (des-TEEN-o)

  73. Ocean / Oceano (och-YA-no)

  74. Divine / Divino/a (Dee-VEE-no) - not to be confused with “divano” which means “couch.”

  75. Noble / Nobile (NO-bee-lay)

  76. Dollar / Dollaro - (DOL-lar-o)

  77. Button / Bottone (boo-TOH-nay)

  78. Distant / Distante (dee-STAN-tay)

  79. Second / Secondo

  80. Moment / Momento

  81. Medicine / Medicina (meh-dee-CHEE-na)

  82. Pulse / Polso (POHL-so)

  83. Palm / Palma

  84. Penicillin / Penicillina (pen-ee-chee-LEE-na)

  85. Vein / Vena

  86. Nude / Nudo/a - Don’t come in, I’m nuda! In English we more commonly say naked rather than nude, but in Italian you get one option. Try not to laugh too much the first time you actually get to use it.

  87. Cigarette / Sigaretta

  88. Rose / Rosa - means rose as well as pink.

  89. Vase / Vaso (VAH-zo) - I got you a vaso to put your rosa in.

  90. Medium / Medio (meh-dyo)

  91. Category / Categoria

  92. Comment / Commento (cohm-MEN-toh)

  93. Phrase / Frase (FRAH-zay)

  94. Alphabet / Alfabeto

  95. Letter / Lettera - as in English, this can mean both a letter in a word and a letter you write someone.

  96. Note / Nota - like a note you write someone along with musical notes, etc.

  97. Icon / Icona (ee-COHN-a)

There is yet another taste for you, that Italian can be easy to learn! And fun(ny). There are many, many more words like this, which is why it can be almost effortless to expand your vocabulary of nouns and adjectives. And this doesn’t even touch upon all the letter combinations you’ll start to pick on, those that are in English but not Italian, then figuring out the Italian equivalent, which enables you to translate words on your own without using a translator or asking a friend. Huh? Let me explain quickly.

Take for example, words in English that end in “tion.”

Frustration. Eradication.

If I tell you that “frustration” becomes “frustrazione” and “eradication” becomes “eradicazione,” you can see that the root of the word stays the same, and the “tion” suffix becomes “zione" in Italian. Easy, right? I bet you can figure out the next three.

  • Extraction = Estrazione

  • Indication = Indicazione

  • Indecision = Indecisione

Did you catch the exceptions? Where one root word didn’t stay the same, and one word didn’t end in “tion”? The “ex” in “extraction” became “es” in “estrazione,” and “indecision” ends in “sion.” This, in turn, could open the next letter combinations you could translate by yourself. There is no “x” in the Italian alphabet, therefore the combination of “ex” usually becomes “es,” and words that end in “sion” often become “sione” in Italian.

  • Expulsion = Espulsione

  • Extrusion = Estrusione

  • Extrinsic = Estrinsico

  • Invasion = Invasione

I’m getting ahead of myself, and going beyond the just the light-hearted lesson I had planned-o today-o, but I’ll leave you with on last word to translate on your own. Conversation…go!

Until next time, alla prossima!

How to Learn Some Italian Using Words You Already Know - Lesson 1

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Did you know that you already know a whole bunch of words that Italians use everyday? You’re basically fluent in Italian and don’t even know it. Ok, ok, not really, but the fact is, Italians use a good bit of English in their everyday jargon. I’m not talking about Italians when they’re speaking in English, I mean the English words that are thrown in to Italian conversations. English words that have come to replace the traditional Italian, or words that were coined in English in recent decades and have wound their way into Italian.

Some Italian words by now are almost obsolete. I’ve spent almost 3 years’ worth of time in Italy, only including the time in which I was learning Italian and conversing maybe more in Italian than English, and still have yet to hear the Italian equivalent of certain English words. For example, “privacy.” Written, spoken, it’s always “privacy.” I didn’t even notice I had no idea how to say nor had I ever heard someone say “privacy” in Italian until someone brought it to my attention. So I had to ask, how do you say “privacy” in Italian? “Privatezza.” By now with "terms of privacy” and the like around the internet, especially here in the EU, “privatezza” has been rendered all but forgotten, I guess. Maybe just uncool.

English is a desired language and thus becomes cool if you can speak any. Plus Italy is so dependent upon tourism that many people’s jobs require them to speak some basic English, if not fluently. Many parents look to English speaking au pairs to teach their children English from a young age, or get them in any programs that involve English native-tongues, no matter the program, just for the language experience. Teaching English is almost always an option for native speakers.

I can’t tell you how often my Italian colleagues in every day conversation would sprinkle in some English. “Yes” would replace a “si,” “excuse me,” “oh my god,” “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” would be used just as often as their Italian counterparts. And my colleagues often weren’t talking to me, the only native English speaker who worked there. Americans learn a second language often in high school, but because we have no need of the language it is never exercised and usually forgotten. Even the basic words we retain we don’t often use, even if we also think it’s cool, because it seems a bit pretentious. At least I think the general consensus is that it is. Here, I don’t know, maybe the desire to learn English (and French, German, Spanish, etc.) is almost so accepted that it’s more common everyone is “practicing” in a way, and therefore not pretentious? Shrug.

Whether you’re looking forward to an upcoming Italian adventure, learning Italian, or simply curious, here is a great way to add some QUICK and EASY words to your repertoire. Heheh.

Buca di Beppo requires full out Italian speaking mode ON

Buca di Beppo requires full out Italian speaking mode ON

Quick Note on Italian Pronunciation

Even if it is a true English word that Italians use, they often pronounce it with their wonderful accent ( and sometimes may not understand you the first time [or ever] if you pronounce the same word but in the correct English way.) So as you are reading the words that follow, you might want to learn or brush up on the Italian alphabet and how to pronounce some of their key words to get the full appreciation. (Click here to do so.) It’s way more fun to pronounce things in an Italian accent anyway, so let your inner Fabio/Martina come bursting forth!

If you want to actually learn Italian or you have a base that you would like to build upon, I have found this book to be very useful in clarifying all the different verbs in Italian. One of my best friends used it while she was in Italy as an au pair, and later gave it to me to use when I first came to Italy!

Italian Words You Already Know

Some they borrow from us, some we borrow from them, either way we understand each other!

  1. Weekend - Il Weekend. By now everyone wishes you a “buon weekend!” instead of “buon fine settimana!” I once heard an elderly gentleman say “buon fine settimana” to an acquaintance on the bus. It actually made me turn around and take note of this gentleman. And that’s it. Just that one time I’ve heard it. It’s really just the older generations that use it. I think it’s a bit sad, really, that some words aren’t hardly even used anymore. As someone who wants to learn Italian and learn it well, it feels a bit like cheating injecting words you already know!

  2. Relax - you could use the Italian verb rilassarsi, but why don’t you relax and use what you already know? ;)

  3. Budget - I was using the Italian “bilancio” for the longest time until I realized that Italians use “budget.” Why do I even try?

  4. Zero - one number down, uh, a couple trillion to go?

  5. Radio - La radio. This I learned when briefly taking Italian lessons. Yay for words that are the same, just a slightly different pronunciation! Rahhhhdio instead of Rayyyydio. Remember those pronunciation rules?

  6. Computer - they even say this one a bit like we do, the u is a “yoo” sound instead of the usual Italian “oo.” But try and roll that r a bit. I know I know, but you’ll get there!

  7. iPhone, Android, iPad, and other well-known technological products and companies - Even though Android seems to have a higher number of cell phone users, Apple is still as desired here as it is in the States. Except an iPhone can cost about €100-300 more than it’s American retail price. Add that in with a weaker economy and it doesn’t take much imagination why Android is still #1.

  8. Social - the only difference here is that Italians don’t say “media” after. It’s always just “social.”

  9. Facebook, Instagram, selfie, etc. - all those trendy words coined in recent years are all the same!

  10. Email - la email…

  11. Password - la password…I don’t even know if these have a translation in Italian. I think they are what they are.

  12. Account - I believe you can also say il conto, the same you would say when asking for the bill or tab at a restaurant. But I’ve never heard anyone use anything other than account, so, no worries!

  13. Display - what a nice display of words we have here! There are several different ways to say this in Italian, such as “mettere in mostra” / to put on display, or “sfoggiare” / to show off, display. But it’s much easier just saying display, now, isn’t it?

  14. Wi-Fi and Internet - need WiFi? You can communicate with one word. WiFi? Si? Grazie!

  15. TV - pronounced “tee-vo,” and short for televisione, but reading it is the same.

  16. Modem and Router - at this rate you might be thinking you can handle calling a help center for internet or something. You can say password, account, email, internet, modem, router…right? Wrong. This bit of knowledge I can pass on to you, internet, cable, and phone companies are awful to talk to all the world round. You may have already known this. ;)

  17. Giga - like social media, they don’t say the second word. Instead of giga-byte, it’s simply giga. I have 50 giga per month, and so far my phone service has only taken unauthorized money from my account once, and they fixed it afterwards, these are two positives of my phone company!

  18. Touch Screen - you could be all fancy and say “schermo tattile” or “schermo sensibile al tatto” but I haven’t seen those readily as touch screen is way easier to say, no?

  19. Cliccare and taggare - these might be the only verbs on this list, but they make me laugh because they just turned English words into Italian verbs. All Italian verbs end in “are” (ah-ray), “ere” (air-ay), or “ire” (eer-ay) in the infinitive form. Thus “click” became “cliccare” (to click) and “tag” became “taggare” (to tag, as in Instagram).

  20. Privacy - as stated above, I finally had to ask, how DO you say privacy in Italian? Ah. Privatezza. But goodness, you’re so uncool if you say the Italian.

  21. Area - pronounced like the name “Aria” this is the same in Italian and English.

  22. Marketing - Italians have taken American marketing to new levels. The kind that makes you roll your eyes and say “marketing.”

  23. Logo - “il logo” logos are logos the world round!

  24. Range - this one seems really random to me. But useful, because I can’t think of how to say it in Italian. Gamma, assortimento, portata, actually there a quite a few.

  25. Babysitter - or you can be a tata!

  26. Stalker - useful. Very useful.

  27. Gas - as in water “with gas.” You’ll hear this quite a bit in restaurants, but not necessarily to be used for gasoline, or the other kind. Um, flatulence?

  28. Spa - the relaxing wellness center, not to be confused with S.p.a. which is the Italian equivalent of our LLC.

  29. Fitness - fitness is so important, people! Even Italians understand this.

  30. Personal Trainer - there are so many at the gym I go to!

  31. Zumba, Spinning, Yoga, Pilates, Box, and other popular sports and activities - there are also plenty of corsi di fitness at my gym. Note that boxing is said just “box.”

  32. Studio - Pilates è in studio 1. Pilates is in studio 1. Only one word is different. Crazy, huh? (Although 1 would be pronounced “uno”)

  33. Sport - lo sport, very important in Italy and Europe.

  34. Basket - like social and box, basketball is just “basket.” Or pallacanestro.

  35. Trek - un trek!

  36. Adidas, Nike, Prada, Timberland, any well-known international brand - except, much to my enjoyment, the pronunciations are sometimes different. Not just the letters but the accent, too. I grew up hearing Adidas as “ah-DEE-des” but here it is “AH-dee-das.”

  37. Performance - or spettacolo.

  38. Record - un nuovo record! Used as in “setting a record” and that type of record, but I haven’t heard it used as the type of record related to music and other meanings.

  39. Stop - I learned some Italian phrases before coming to Italy for the first time, including the useful “basta” (stop, or enough). It would have been nice to know I could’ve also used good ol’ STOP, too.

  40. Bus - short for autobus, but ends up essentially the same in the abbreviated.

  41. Mascara - long a’s, ladies, for long eyelashes.

  42. Shopping - shoppers, rejoice!

  43. T-shirt - mi piace la tua t-shirt! Italian is “maglietta,” but they are interchangeable.

  44. Jeans - jeans are jeans. “Pantaloni” refers to all long pants, but if you want specifically a pair of jeans, the term is jeans.

  45. Push-up - I’m not sure about the exercise push-up, but ladies will have an easy time finding a certain type of lingerie in this style!

  46. Influenza - the sickness, but is also Italian for “influence.”

  47. Stress - lo stress. Yes, even Italians living their dolce vita experience stress. Che stress / what stress!

  48. Idea - what a great idea! Che bella idea! It’s the same, different pronunciation.

  49. Blu - said the same as our blue, but without the e. There is another word for blue in Italian, azzurro, that is more commonly used, especially for medium and lighter blues, but for your purposes, using “blu” is just fine.

  50. In - this is actually Italian and English, and generally used in the same way: Inside something.

  51. Me - also both Italian and English. Chi, me? Yes, you.

  52. Circa - this is usually used in English to determine an approximate date. “He was born circa 1950.” You can use it this same way in Italian, but also in many other ways, such as: with regard to, about, approximately, roughly, thereabouts, etc etc.

  53. Via - Used similarly in the two languages, to express a means of getting somewhere. “I sent it via email.” Only in Italian, however, it is the equivalent of street. I want to live in Via delle Belle Donne! In Italian you can also say “attraverso,” meaning through.

  54. Film - usually used in place of movie. Do you want to go see a movie? Vuoi andare a vedere un film?

  55. Set - film set, set of plates/set di piatti, set of silverware/set di posati…if Italians lift weights in the gym they probably have a number of steps they do. I just said set too many times in my head and now it seems like the most bizarre word. Set. Weird.

  56. Fan - this is widely used in Italian in reference to a fan club (not the ventilation fan), but if you want to sound more Italian you could say appassionato/a, fanatico/a, or tifoso/a for a sports fan.

  57. Video - a videoclip on Facebook or recording on your phone is considered a “video.”

  58. Foto - short for fotografia, but pronounced the same.

  59. Piercing - your parents might not appreciate that there isn’t even much of a language barrier for getting a piercing here. Heheh.

  60. Bomber - I’m not cool enough to know how to use this exactly right in actual English, but I do know that Italians understand it as a cool, “fuoriclasse,” or out-of-their-league person. Cristiano Ronaldo is a bomber. Maybe “This cake is the bomb” and if you made the cake, you’re the bomber? I’m trying, ok!?! Let’s just say it can be used exactly the same in Italian as it is in English, mmmk?

  61. Rock, Pop, Rap, and other types or styles of music - la radio, pop, per favore! Look, we’re already able to easily build phrases from this list. Amazing. “Per favore” I realize is not on here, but you’ll find that in any guidebook. ;)

  62. Bar - bar is the same in both languages, although it is a bit more widely used term in Italy. Bar is used to refer to just about any place that sells coffee. A true bar usually opens early with coffee and pastries, somewhere around 10am transitions to selling sandwiches “panini” and maybe some lunch dishes, and sells alcohol all day long, and finally closes sometime in the early evening.

  63. Hotel - these, of course, you will see everywhere, and if you ask an Italian they will point you to the nearest “otel.” Italian is albergo, but maybe they also eventually adopted hotel because the people who search for hotels, that would be tourists, would find and understand hotel better than albergo. Just a theory.

  64. Pizza - I think this has long been accepted as both English and Italian.

  65. Pasta - Another dual citizen here, except it has a few more meanings in Italian, not always meaning the delicious plate of carbs with wonderful sauces. Pasta can also mean dough, batter, paste, and pastry.

  66. Spaghetti, Gnocchi, Linguini, etc. - these probably seem obvious, however I will add a quick note: for whatever reason, types of pasta are sometimes referred to in their singular form. You may not notice this as a tourist, but if you hang out enough with pasta and Italians, you’ll start hearing “spaghetto” and “raviolo” or “gnocco” and “casereccia.”

  67. Panini - important note on this one…panini is PLURAL. You shouldn’t ask for one panini in Italian, that’s like ordering “one sandwiches.” It’s panino, and denotes any kind of sandwich rather than the American grilled sandwich. Just so you know. :D

  68. Cheesecake - there are many cheesecake gelato flavors and cheesecakes themselves in restaurants and gelaterie, but they generally taste quite different. They are more like a semi-freddo in texture. I don’t know why. I thought it was the cream cheese, but after making cheesecakes at home that turned out great, I still don’t understand. It shall remain a mystery for now.

  69. Hamburger - to be pronounced as Jacques Clouseau from the Pink Panther. Hamburgers are very popular here, and based on the restaurants Italians seem to think that America is stuck in the 1950’s diner era and all we eat are hamburgers, French fries, and milkshakes. Ah well, Americans think Italians only eat pizza, pasta, and wine, so we’re even, right?

  70. Hotdog - not as popular as the hamburger, but it has it’s own following and can be found in most grocery stores.

  71. Yogurt - the yogurt section can be quite extensive in grocery stores, as Italians are rather obsessed with their digestion.

  72. Avocado - millennials, rejoice! No translator needed to find your beloved green fruit. Your wallet will not rejoice, as avocados usually hover about €5/kg (that’s about $2.50-3.00/lb)

  73. Banana - you say “bah-naaa-nah,” Italians say “bah-nah-nah.”

  74. Lime - sometimes called the same as a limone. But lime and lemon are very different, how can I tell what you are offering me if you say limone? I don’t understand.

  75. Sushi and other ethnic foods - entering an ethnic restaurant that then tries to explain under the title what the dish is in Italian, can be very amusing to me. Lo mein that is explained as spaghetti just doesn’t get it for me, haha.

  76. Paprika - spelled the same, but in Italian it has a different pronunciation: PAH-pree-kuh instead of pah-PREE-kuh

  77. Curry - the same, although the u is not pronounced as the Italian u, instead it is a strong a, like in “carry.”

  78. Sultana - we usually say raisin in English, but sultana works in English and Italian!

  79. Brioche - technically a buttery, enriched French bread in French or English, this term in Italian applies to any pastry.

  80. Cocktail - cocktail and most of the classic cocktail names, Mojito, Moscow Mule, etc. will get you far during aperitivo hour.

  81. Espresso, Cappuccino, etc. - yes, all the famed coffee drinks that were invented in Italy are the same and so far we haven’t managed to mess up the pronunciation too much! Good job, everybody!

  82. Broccoli - the same in Italian and English. Random, but hey, we could all use a little more broccoli in our life!

  83. Hobby - an Italian hobby might be sitting at the local bar and people watching, wine tasting, long dinners, long strolls, watching soccer, discussing soccer, watching news discussing soccer, and playing soccer.

  84. Food Truck - Italians have picked up on the food truck trend in America and are following suit with their own trendy hamburger food trucks!

  85. Street Food - like food truck above, except I don’t think that restaurant I saw the other day advertising “street food” fully understood the concept.

  86. Take-away - mangi qui o take-away? Italian is “da portare via” or “d’asporto.”

  87. All You Can Eat - ALL sushi restaurants I have ever seen or eaten at in Italy are always the “all you can eat” formula. And “all you can eat” is always written in English, everything else in Italian. Don’t ask me why.

  88. Freezer - I always appreciated this one because for a while there I could never remember “congelatore.” Maybe because I heard the English more often than the Italian, didn’t stick with me, haha!

  89. Zebra - the same, except I say ZEE-brah, you say ZAY-brah…

  90. Zoo - everyone loves the zoo! It’s the same word except for in Italian you pronounce it “Zo.”

There you are, a whole list of “Italian” words you already knew. My little Italian prodigies!

I’m sure I’m missing a whole slew of English/Italian words, if you want to add to this list drop me a comment below!

The Italian Alphabet and Pronunciation

A nook along Cinque Terre hiking trails in full Italian speaking mode…you don’t like to find crevices that are just your size??

A nook along Cinque Terre hiking trails in full Italian speaking mode…you don’t like to find crevices that are just your size??

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Listening to Italian makes you happy, doesn’t it? It doesn’t even matter if you know what they’re saying or not. The rolls and lilts of the language are filled with an over-exaggerated sense of passion and drama, and you can’t help but smile. Unless they’re yelling, then I’m not smiling. Even if it’s probably just a friendly exchange about the last soccer match. I’m very non-confrontational and the public displays of conflict make me nervous. Run awayyyyyy! In fact, someone once thought I was Hungarian because I was so laid back and calm. Hmmm…

As far as languages go, Italian is really not that difficult to learn. Yes, it’s a foreign language and difficult, but. Have you ever tried to learn Chinese or Arabic? That’ll put things into perspective real quick! With Italian you can learn just a few phrases and suddenly you feel alive and all the hand gestures come as if you were born doing them. But before we warm up our hands and our best “mamma mia” expressions, let’s go over the alphabet and pronunciation of vowels that is oh-so-important.

The Italian Alphabet

Alright sing this and see if you can figure out which letters are missing:


(Pronounced: ah-bee-chee-dee-ae-effe-jee-acca-ee-elle-emme-enne-oh-pee-coo-erre-esse-tee-oo-voo-zeta)

Haha got it? See, Italian is easy because they have less letters than the English alphabet! Only 21, to be exact. But they messed up our nicely coordinated ABC song by Mozart. Rude. (You’ve made the connection by now that the ABC song is the same as Twinkle Twinkle, yes? Great. Ok, we can move on.)

The following letters don’t technically exist in Italian, except for in the foreign words that have been adopted:


(Pronounced: ee loonga - kappa - doppio voo - eex - eepsilon)

And thusly we have eliminated half of the letters in my first name. Thanks guys!

Pronunciation of Those Vowels in Italian

  • “A” in Italian is a long A as in “ah”

    “casa” (CAH-zah)

  • “E” is usually a hard A as in “mate,” but can also be softer, closer to “eh”

    “re” (RAY [king]) / “permesso” (pair-MEH-sso [permission]); the first e is harder, the second softer

  • “I” is a hard E as in “feet”

    “ravioli” (rah-vee-oh-lee)

  • “O” is usually a hard O as in “poke,” but can also be softer, closer to “moss”

    “otto” (OHT-toe [eight]); the first o is softer, the second harder

  • “U” is a hard U as in “fluke”

    “cappuccino” (CAP-poo-CHEE-no)

How to Pronounce Key Consonants in Italian

  • “C” is a hard c as in “cup” unless it is immediately followed by an i or e in which case it is a soft c as in “chocolate.”

    “cono” (CO-no [cone]) / “cioccolato” (CHYO-co-lah-to [chocolate]) / “cena” (CHAY-na [dinner])

  • “Ch” is always pronounced as a hard c.

    “chiuso” (kee-OO-zo [closed])

  • “G” is a hard g as in “gas” unless it is immediately followed by an i or e in which case it is a soft g as in “Germany.” (J doesn’t exist in the Italian alphabet, so any j sound is made with a g and an i or e. The Italian version of my name is spelled Genny, short for Giovanna.)

    “gatto” (GAH-to [cat]) / “giardino” (jyar-DEE-no [garden]) / “gelato” (je-LAH-to)

  • “Gh” is always pronounced as a hard g.

    “ghiaccio” ( ghyA-chyo [ice])

  • S” is a z sound like the s in “pose” if it is between vowels, otherwise it is an s sound as in “soup”

    “casino” (ca-ZEE-no [mess]) / “pasta” (PAH-sta)

  • “SS” is an s sound like in “messy”

    “bellissima” (bell-EE-see-ma [so pretty])

  • “Z” is a normal z sound as in “zebra” at the beginning of words, otherwise it is a ts sound as in “mats”

    “zucchero” (ZOO-kair-o [sugar]) / “stazione” (Sta-tsee-O-nay [station])

  • “R” is always semi-rolled, not the “er” sound we make in English where the tongue doesn’t come in contact with any part of the mouth.

    “mercato” (mair-CAH-to [market])

  • “RR” is an exaggerated roll. And yes, you can learn to roll your r’s!

    “ferro” (FAY-rrrr-o [iron])

  • “GN” is pronounced like the ñ in Spanish; the g is silent.

    “gnocchi” (nyO-kee)

  • “GLI” when it is in the middle of a word or used as an article (“gli” [plural for the]) is the L version of ñ; the closest example would be like the lli in “million.” This one is harder to write without hearing it, especially because many people struggle with this subtle but particular sound. It’s like saying “Lee” while trying to stretch the back of your tongue between your molars and the roof of your mouth instead of just touching the tip of your tongue to the front of the mouth to make the normal L sound…or in other words trying to say it more from the back of your mouth than just the front. (How are we doing? If there is anyone by you, you may want to explain why you’re contorting your mouth so much.)

    “famiglia” (fa-MEE-lya) / “gli uomini” (LYEE oo-OH-mee-nee [the men])

  • “SC” is an sh sound as in “shop” if it is followed by an i or e, otherwise the letters are pronounced normally as in “escape.”

    “scienza” (shee-EN-za [science]) / “sconto” (SKOHN-toe [discount])

  • “H” is always silent.

    Santa Clause says “ho ho ho” / Babbo Natale says “O O O”

In my head it was going to be a lot easier writing all that out than it actually was. It seems like a lot of information, but don’t worry, it’s actually quite simple with a bit of practice!