- Italian is a phonetic language. Jackpot!
- The trilled r is probably the trickiest sound of the Italian language. I used to believe Italian native speakers had some kind of power. Like they were able to control their tongue, and make its tip vibrate by itself. But it’s much easier than that: Keep your tongue steady behind your teeth (without touching them), and force air out of your mouth. When the air goes through your mouth, it must make the tip of your tongue vibrate. You may not get it right the first time. Or the second time. Or the third time. But keep practicing, 5-10 minutes everyday. I guarantee you it will come eventually. You can also start with your tongue touching your teeth to understand the mechanism. Or go to YouTube and search for how to trill your r’s to find video tutorials, and different approaches. Other novelties include:
- The flap, where your tongue makes a very brief contact with your palate above your teeth. It feels as if your were whipping your tongue. This sound is similar to the one found in the American better, with tt.
- The combination gn, which can be seen as a n followed by the sound y (as in you). Practice by saying something like n-you.
- The combination gl, which can be seen as a l followed by the sound y (as in you). Practice by saying something like l-you.
- Double consonants shorten the vowels preceding them, giving the impression of a longer consonant.
- Italian doesn’t have a simple stress pattern.
- The language and pronunciation vary between the different regions of Italy, where the dialects can have a great influence on the common Italian language.
Gender: Two genders, masculine and feminine. Most words ending in -o are masculine, and in -a feminine. But, of course, there are exceptions…
Cases: No declensions.
Negation: Add non before a verb.
Question: As a beginner, the simplest way is to rise your pitch at the end of a sentence. For more complex questions (involving how, why, what, …), you only need to add a word at the beginning of the sentence, and to rise your pitch at the end of the sentence.
Plural: Masculine nouns take the letter i at the end, and feminine nouns take the letter e.
Miscellaneous: You don’t need to use pronouns (I, you, he, …) in most cases.