S

Italian Consonant

The letter S has two pronunciations in Italian as in English. Most words follow specific rules that spell out which pronunciation is correct.

Soft pronunciation

Phonetic symbol [s]

  • at beginning of word + vowel
  • before an unvoiced consonant (c, f, p, t)
  • after any consonant
  • whenever there is a double S
Italian sound files Per esempio…
the letter s
salve   hello
una spilla   brooch
la testa   head
un sottoveste   slip
indossare   to wear

Hard pronunciation

Phonetic symbol [z]

  • between two vowels
  • before a voiced consonant (b, d, g, l, m, n, v)
Italian sound files Per esempio…
una casa   house
il naso   nose
i piselli   peas
una sveglia   alarm clock

 When I started learning Italian, I was surprised and confused to discover that the letter S is never used for plurals – unlike French, Spanish, English ….

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Italian pronunciation