Italian sounds: vowels

Italian is a phonetically spelled language. That means the graphemes (written symbols) correspond to the phonemes (spoken sounds) of the language (with some exceptions). There are no cases in Italian of words written with the same graphemes and different sounds, such as floor, good, and blood in English. In Italian a grapheme or a group of graphemes always corresponds with the same sounds.

In Italian there are 5 written symbols and 7 vowel sounds. In English, there is a difference in pronunciation between long and short vowels (calm/cut, sheep/ship); however, in Italian, this difference is irrelevant.

Written symbol Phonetic symbol Similar sound in English Spoken sound in Italian
a a father casa
u u would uno
i i bee filo
e e end sera
e ε bet letto
o o open nome
o ɔ born cosa


In Italian there are two sounds that are not considered real vowels:

Written symbol Phonetic symbol Similar sound in English Spoken sound in Italian
i j yet ieri
u w woman uomo

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Italian

Università per Stranieri di Siena (UniStraSi)