Italian Vowel

The Italian letter E has two pronunciations. The explanation and equivalents provided here are based on the closest sounds that exist in American English, which are sometimes not very close at all. IPA symbols are provided in [brackets].

1. The closed e sound (la e chiusa). Phonetic symbol: [e]. The nearest sound in English is the long a as in "name," but that’s a diphthong: [eI] which starts out like the Italian [e] but ends in a sort of y sound. In contrast, the Italian closed e sound is just the first part. Any "e" found in an unstressed syllable is closed.*

Italian sound files Per esempio…
the letter e
estate   summer
buonasera   good evening
nevicare   to snow
grazie   thank you
perché   why

2. The open e sound (la e aperta) is equivalent to English’s short e sound, as in "set." Phonetic symbol: [ɛ]

Per esempio…
vento   wind
pesca   peach
lei   she
piselli   peas
caffè   coffee

 * While an unstressed e is always pronounced as a closed sound, the opposite is not true: a stressed e may be open or closed.

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Italian pronunciation