Italian Vowels

Pronouncing Italian Vowel Letters

Pitigliano, Italy
Gary Yeowell/Stone/Getty Images
Italian vowels (le vocali) are short, clear–cut, and are never drawn out. The "glide" with which English vowels frequently end should be avoided. It should be noted that a, i, u, are always pronounced the same way; e and o, on the other hand, have an open and a closed sound that may vary from one part of Italy to the other.

The approximate English equivalents are as follows:

a is like a in the English word ah!

Italian / English
casa  house
antipasto  appetizer
ama  loves
banana  banana
sala  hall
Papa  Pope
fama  fame
pasta  pasta; dough; pastry

e is sometimes like e in the English word they (without the final i glide).

Italian / English
e  and
beve  drinks
me  me
fede  faith
vede  sees
mele  apples
sete  thirst
pepe  pepper

e is sometimes like e in the word met. This is the open e.

Italian / English
è  is
lento  slow
bene  well
festa  party; holiday
sedia  chair
presto  soon
vento  wind

i is like i in machine.

Italian / English
libri  books
bimbi  children
vini  wines
violini  violins
tini  vats
pini  pines

o is sometimes like o in the English word oh!.

Italian / English
o  or
dono  gift
nome  name
solo  alone
posto  place
tondo  round
volo  flight
mondo  world

o is sometimes like o in or. This is the open o.

Italian / English
moda  fashion
toga  toga
no  no
oro  gold
posta  mail
brodo  broth
cosa  thing
trono  throne
rosa  rose
olio  oil

u is like u in rule.

Italian / English
luna  moon
fungo  mushroom
uno  one
lungo  long
fuga  fugue
mulo  mule
uso  use
tubo  tube