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Pronunciation Tips for Beginners: the letter A

For English speakers, Italian can be difficult to pronounce, especially when reading. Watching, listening, and doing the exercises Yabla provides can all help reinforce correct pronunciation, but let’s zoom in on one of the basic sounds.

 

We’re not looking for the nuances here, of which there are plenty, but just the very basics.

 

In Italian, the vowels, in particular, sound so different from what they look like to an English speaker, so let’s start there.

 

Let’s have a look at pronouncing the letter "A."

 

To hear the Italian “A” click on the audio icon here, and you can hear the correct pronunciation and repeat it. Maybe you can find a word in English that you pronounce with this sound. The Italian "A" sound has no diphthong in it and never sounds like a long "A," as in April.

 

Let’s take the word naso (nose). If you pronounce the "A" as you do in "ah!," you will come pretty close! And here is a tip. Go to the Dictionary tab and type in the word naso. Apart from information about the word, you will see an audio icon you can click on to hear the word pronounced. At the bottom of the page, you will be able to click on some bite-sized video clips containing the word in context. 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

Quindi ho bisogno di soffiare il naso tantissime volte.

So I have to blow my nose many times.

Caption 13, Marika spiega - Il raffreddore

 Play Caption

 

What are some other words with this sound?

 

How about casa (house)? There are 2 A's. 

È Sara che è tornata a casa.

It's Sara who just got home.

Caption 26, Acqua in bocca Mp3 Marino - Ep 2

 Play Caption

 

Maybe you noticed there are plenty of words with the A sound in the previous example. Try repeating the caption after hearing it. 

 

How about pasta?

 

La pasta alla Norma è una pasta semplicissima da cucinare.

Pasta alla Norma is a very simple pasta dish to make.

Caption 5, L'Italia a tavola - Pasta alla Norma - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

In fact, if we listen look carefully,  there are plenty of words containing the letter "A" in this one sentence. Listen to the video, and you will hear that they are all pronounced the same way. 

 

Try pronouncing the title. Italia a tavola (Italy at the Table).

 

In a segment of La Ladra (try pronouncing the title), there’s a very similar word to its English counterpart (the one in parentheses), but the "A" sounds a bit different.

 

Assassino!

Murderer (assassin)!

Caption 9, La Ladra Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squalo - Part 13

 Play Caption

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

For more on the alphabet, see Marika's videos about the alphabet and about pronunciation.

 

Let us know if this was helpful, and we’ll talk about another vowel, soon. 

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