C sound in Italian

C is a consonant. How do you pronounce C in Italian? Read on to find out.

How to pronounce C in Italian

C can represent two different sounds depending on the letter that follows it.

C
C sound

C is pronounced with a hard sound (with IPA symbol /k/) when followed by any consonant or the vowels A, O and U.

It is never aspirated as in cat.


How to pronounce CH in Italian

The “ke” and “ki” sounds, as in Kentucky and keen, are spelled as CHE and CHI.

Examples:

Casa, schema, chilo, collo, curva
(/ˈkaza/, /ˈskɛma/, /ˈkilo/, /ˈkɔllo/, /ˈkurva/)
House, pattern, kilo, neck, curve

a house with a brown roof

How to pronounce CI in Italian

C sounds like the “ch” in check when followed by the vowels E or I.

Ci + A, E, O and U, respectively CIA, CIE/CE, CIO and CIU, roughly correspond to the sounds in charcoal, check, chocolate and choose. The IPA symbol is /ʧ/.

Cina, cervello, calcio, baciare
(/ˈʧina/, /ʧerˈvɛllo/, /ˈkalʧo/, /baˈʧare/)
China, brain, soccer, to kiss


Length of the C sound

The C sound in Italian can be single or double.

Italian pronunciation tantrums: what’s up with those double consonants?
These double consonants are called geminates. English uses them only in the written language: a word like tabby, as in tabby cat, is pronounced as if it were actually “taby” and not as “tab-bee”.

Italian geminates, on the other hand, are longer in quality than single consonants, as if they were “doubled”.

Not all Italian consonants can be doubled.

It is double when it’s written as cc. You won’t find a double consonant at the beginning of an Italian word, but always in the middle. For example…

Bacca, cuccia
(/ˈbakka/, /ˈkutʧa/)
Berry, kennel

Listen closely. The “cc” sounds in bacca and cuccia (one is hard and the other one is not) are double and have a longer sound. Here are some other examples:

Cacciare, pacco, cocciuto
(/katˈʧare/, /ˈpakko/, /kotˈʧuto/)
To hunt, parcel, stubborn

a hunter and his dog

Other Italian words with the C sound

Locusta
(/loˈkusta/)
Locust

Focaccia
(/foˈkatʧa/)
Focaccia bread

Cioccolato
(/ʧokkoˈlato/)
Chocolate

Piccolo
(/ˈpikkolo/)
Small

Selciato
(/selˈʧato/)
Cobblestone

Cento
(/ˈʧɛnto/)
A hundred

a dark chocolate bar

Your turn!

Pronounce each given word.

Easy


Hard


More free Italian resources

You might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

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