difficult Consonants

Some consonants have two pronunciations, depending on the letter (generally a vowel) that is before that consonant.

The approximate English equivalents for these consonants are as follows:
  • q-Q: This consonant exists only in connection with u followed by another vowel; that is, you always find qu. The "q" is pronounced like (k), or like the English "qu" in quest. Examples:
    • Questo  »  this.
    • Quinto  »  fifth.
    • Quale  »  which.
    • Quarto  »  fourth.
    • Quanto  »  how much.
    • Quantità  »  quantity.
    • Quadro  »  picture.
    • Qualità  »  quality.
  • r-R: This sound is always "rolled", like a Scottish "r" in Edinburgh, or a Spanish "r" in señor.You don’t pronounce the Italian r with your tongue in the back, as you do the English r; rather, you can obtain this sound making the tip of the tongue vibrate almost against the hard palate, next to the back of the upper teeth. It never sounds as an English r, nor as a French r. Examples:
    • Ora  »  now.
    • Tenore  »  tenor.
    • Albergo  »  hotel.
    • Baritono  »  baritone.
    • Arte  »  art.
    • Orologio  »  watch.
    • Porta  »  door.
    • Sardina  »  sardine.
  • s-S: This consonant has two pronunciations:

S is sometimes strong and hissing like the English "s" in house, set, strip. Example:

    • Soggiorno  »  living room.
    • Testa  »  head.
    • Stanza  »  room.
    • Festa  »  party; holiday.
    • Posta  »  mail.
    • Stufato  »  stew.
    • Pasta  »  pasta; dough; pastry.
    • Pista  »  track.

S is sometimes (but always before b, d, g, l, m, n, r, and v) like the english s in easy, or the the English "z" in zoo. Examples:

    • Rosa  »  rose.
    • Casa  »  house.
    • Tesoro  »  treasure.
    • Frase  »  phrase.
    • Sbaglio  »  mistake.
    • Esercizio  »  exercise.
    • Svelto  »  quick.
    • Musica  »  music.
    • Sgridare  »  to scold.
    • Sbadato  »  careless.
  • z-Z: This consonant has two pronunciations(*):

Z is sometimes voiceless, like ts is bets, cats. Example:

    • Pizza  »  pizza.
    • Negozio  »  store.
    • Marzo  »  March.
    • Venezia  »  Venice.
    • Grazie  »  thank you.
    • Dizionario  »  dictionary.

Z is sometimes voiced, like ds in beds. Examples:

    • Zero  »  zero.
    • Zebra  »  zebra.
    • Pranzo  »  lunch.
    • Zelo  »  zeal.
    • Romanzo  »  novel.
    • Zanzara  »  mosquito.

(*) In either case, its sound differs more distinctly from s than it does in English.




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