The Importance of Proper Italian Pronunciation

Italian Cartoon

Italian CartoonIn English, when we pronounce words such as “Fall” and “Feel”, the endings sound the same. All we do is pronounce the “L” sound, even though both words use a different number of L’s.

When we pronounce words like “Lease” and “Less”, the endings also sound the same since we merely pronounce the “S” sound, despite one word having a single S, and the other having a double S.

Similarly, the “T” sound in Platter is the same as the “T” sound in “Cater”, even though one word has a double T, and the other has a single T.

For Americans, this is quite normal. However, pronouncing a double letter in Italian when it should be a single letter, or vice versa, could indeed be fatal to the meaning trying to be expressed.

In my illustration, the old man is trying to say in Italian that he is “thirsty” (ho sete). But since he does not know how to pronounce Italian words properly, by saying instead ho sette, he is really saying in Italian that he is “seven”.

Sete – Thirst

Sette – Seven

To most Americans, the pronunciation difference in Sete and Sette is so subtle, that the two words sound essentially identical. To Italians, they sound drastically different.

Anno, which means “year”, is another example. If you ever want to tell anyone you had a good year, make sure it is clear that you are saying Anno, and not Ano! Similarly, if you want to eat the pasta called Penne, make sure it is clear that you are asking for Penne, and not Pene! Those are two fatal mistakes you DO NOT want to make, and if you google translate them, you will discover why….  Haha.

If you can think of any other such hilarious mistakes, please share.



  1. David Frank Badini : December 23, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    What would you recommend for learning Italiano,book,program etc?

    • Anthony Barbuto : January 7, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Hi David. Pretty much everything I talk about in my blog I recommend. To properly learn Italian as an adult you will need a lifestyle change and immerse yourself in Italian culture. If you are just interested in learning some key words and phrases, that is a different story and any software can help you achieve that goal.

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