Every Italian word has a stress that falls on one of its syllables. For a few of these words, however, the stress can fall on different syllables, changing the meaning of the word entirely.
In this lesson, we’ll see the most common Italian words with different stress intonations, along with native audio recordings so you can listen to the correct stress.
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Italian words with different stress
These words are basically homographs: a homograph is a word that has the same written form as another word, but has a different meaning.
A homograph can be pronounced the same (for example: porta which can mean door and bring!, depending on the context). A homograph can also be pronounced differently, and that’s our case.
In order to distinguish Italian words that are stressed on different syllables in the written language, Italian publishing houses and agencies use accent marks to avoid confusion. For example, sùbito (immediately) and subìto (past participle of to suffer) are homographs.
Ho sùbito aperto la porta.
I immediately opened the door.
Ho subìto una tremenda sconfitta.
I suffered a tremendous defeat.
That said, let’s take a look at the most common Italian words with different stress.
List of common Italian words with different stress
Note: This list doesn’t include homographs that end in a stressed syllable, such as sputo, spit, and sputò, he spat. Since stress is always noted in the final position, these words never cause confusion in the written language.
Italian words with different stress
|abbaìno||abbàino||attic / that they bark|
|ambìto||àmbito||coveted / setting|
|bacìno||bàcino||basin / that they kiss|
|bàlia||balìa||nanny / mercy|
|benefìci||benèfici||benefits / healthy|
|calzìno||càlzino||sock / that they put on|
|capitàno||càpitano||captain / they happen|
|circùito||circuìto||circuit / swindled|
|còmpito||compìto||task / courteous|
|condomìni||condòmini||flats / co-owners|
|desidèri||desìderi||desires / you desire|
|destìno||dèstino||destiny / that they destine|
|dimenticàti||dimènticati||forgotten / forget!|
|fermàti||fèrmati||stopped / stop!|
|ìmpari||impàri||unequal / you learn|
|intùito||intuìto||intuition / perceived|
|isolàno||ìsolano||islander / they isolate|
|lèggere||leggère||to read / light (adj)|
|màrtiri||martìri||martyrs / martyrdoms|
|mondàno||mòndano||mundane / they clean|
|nèttare||nettàre||nectar / to clean|
|nòcciolo||nocciòlo||kernel / hazelnut tree|
|occupàti||òccupati||busy / take care of…!|
|pagàno||pàgano||pagan / they pay|
|perdòno||pèrdono||forgiveness / they lose|
|portàle||pòrtale||portal / bring her!|
|prèsidi||presìdi||principals / presidia|
|prìncipi||princìpi||princes / principles|
|provìno||pròvino||audition / that they try|
|rassegnàti||rassègnati||resigned / give up!|
|rètina||retìna||retina / small net|
|rubìno||rùbino||ruby / that they steal|
|sèguito||seguìto||follow-up / followed|
|sùbito||subìto||at once / suffered|
|trattìno||tràttino||hyphen / that they treat|
|tèndine||tendìne||tendon / window curtains|
|tùrbine||turbìne||whirl / turbines|
|valùta||vàluta||currency / he values|
|volàno||vòlano||badminton / they fly|
Let’s make some example sentences using these Italian words with different stress.
Non ho ancora fatto i compiti.
I haven’t done my homework yet.
Levate l’ancora! Stiamo per salpare.
Weigh anchor! We are about to set sail.
Sto cercando una balia per mio figlio.
I am looking for a nanny for my son.
Le foglie erano in balia del vento.
The leaves were at the mercy of the wind.
Il capitano della nave ha 65 anni.
The ship’s captain is 65 years old.
Queste cose non capitano tutti i giorni.
Such things don’t happen every day.
Ti chiedo umilmente perdono.
I humbly ask for your forgiveness.
Le tue scarpe perdono fango sul pavimento.
Your shoes are dropping mud on the floor.
And that’s it for our guide to the Italian words with different stress! If you still have any doubts about them, feel free to leave a comment.
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Now that you’ve seen the Italian words with different stress, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:
- Useful Italian Words Series
- Common Italian Phrases Series
- Italian grammar lessons and tricks
- Italian idiomatic expressions
Or you might also want an excellent offline Italian grammar resource to take with you at all times (Amazon).
Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
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