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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Italian.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Marika.
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Italian writing.
The Italian Alphabet
Both English and Italian uses the Latin alphabet. Unlike English however, Italian only uses a select number of letters.
The Italian alphabet has 21 letters. 5 of them are vowels and 16 are consonants.
Compared to English's 26, you have 5 fewer letters to worry about.
Missing are the letters J, K, W, X, Y. They're all considered to be foreign letters in Italian, and are used only for words borrowed from other languages.
So you'll seldom see words that use these letters. The most common examples are: "jeans", "password", "relax", "yoga", and "extra".
Italian Accent
An accent is a marker that is used to indicate some additional quality. That being said, accents aren't as intimidating as they look. They actually help you more than anything.
There are two types of accents used in Italian:
The grave accent, which looks like a line falling from left to right.
And the acute accent, which looks like a line rising from left to right.
The grave accent can only appear over vowels. Any vowel that appears at the end of a word, can have a grave accent.
When you see a word where the stress is marked by the accent, it takes away the ambiguity and you don't have to guess where to place the stress.
città - “city”
caffè - “coffee”
lunedì - “Monday”
falò - “bonfire”
giù - “down”
All that the grave accent indicates, is that you must stress the syllable. The grave accent then, actually takes away the ambiguity from where to place the stress. It's essentially telling you to 'stress this vowel'.
So whenever you see the grave accent in Italian, just stress that syllable.
If the vowel at the end is an E and it has the grave accent on top, it's indicating that we should pronounce it as an open E, and of course, we must stress the syllable.
tè - “tea”
caffè - “coffee”
è - “is”
The other accent, is the acute accent, and it's used to indicate that we should pronounce it as a closed E.
perché - “why,” “because”
finché - “as long as"
The acute accent can only appear over the vowel E, and only when it's at the end of a word.
Its only function is to indicate a closed pronunciation of the vowel E.
Vowels that are not at the end of a word are rarely marked with an accent outside of dictionaries.
When this does happen, however, it's used to help the reader distinguish between two words which would otherwise appear the same.
àncora - “anchor”
ancòra - “again”
prìncipi - “princes”
princìpi - “principles”
Now you know the function of accents in Italian.
Capital Letters
Another important element to Italian writing is learning when to use capital letters, as they differ from English quite a bit.
Generally, words in Italian aren't capitalized nearly as much as English.
For example, days, months and languages are capitalized in English, but not in Italian.
So we simply write:
lunedì, martedì (“Monday,” “Tuesday”)
aprile, maggio (“April,” “May”)
inglese, italiano (“English,” “Italian”)
Capital letters are only generally used at the beginning of a sentence, or with proper nouns.
A proper noun can be the name of a person, like Rita, but also the name of a place, like Venezia or Monte Bianco.
OK. Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned that the standard Italian alphabet consists of 21 letters.
You also learned that the grave accent can appear over any vowel at the end of a word, and is used to indicate that the syllable must be stressed.
When the grave accent appears on the letter E, you must use an open pronunciation.
When the acute accent is used, it'll only appear over the letter E, indicating that you must use a closed pronunciation.
Finally, Italian only uses capitalization at the beginning of a sentence and with proper nouns.
In the next lesson, you'll be entering Italian boot camp, where you'll learn useful beginner phrases to get you speaking Italian right away!
See you in the next lesson. Bye!


Please to leave a comment.
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ItalianPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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ItalianPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 07:40 PM
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Hi Mary,

Regarding verb conjugation, please check out these lessons:




Should you need extra help with grammar, check out our grammar banks:


In case of any questions, please feel free to contact us.


Team ItalianPod101.com

Mary Pat Bean
Tuesday at 02:42 AM
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I like how the lessons usually end with Italian words- a presto, etc. This lesson, Intro to Italian writing, ended with Marika saying Bye- better to say Ciao! or Arrivederci!

thanks- the more you say common phrases, the easier it is for me to internalize them.

Also thought the lesson before- on verb conjugation, would conjugate the verbs for me. a future lesson??

ItalianPod101.com Verified
Friday at 10:36 PM
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Hi Abril,

Thank you for posting.

It seems the video works fine with this lesson.

Could you check if you have a free lifetime account? Those who have the free lifetime account can access only up to lesson 3 for free. If you have a basic or premium membership, please let us know which error message you see on the screen. It’d be great if you could send us an email at contactus@ItalianPod101.com so that we can take a look at the issue closely.

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Friday at 08:39 PM
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I have a quesrion about this video. Why can't I play it? When i push the Play button it shows like a square with an horizontal zigzag in the middle. What does that mean?

Friday at 02:53 AM
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Hi Decco1,

This lesson doesn't include the [Vocabulary] section with the quiz. However, the next lesson of this series has this section:


You can also check out our other series in the Lesson Library which have this feature:


Let us know if you have any questions.

Best Regards,


Team ItalianPod101.com

Thursday at 02:05 AM
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No quiz?

Sunday at 07:48 AM
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Hi Ben,

Please check out these lessons:



Please let us know if you have any questions.

Best Regards,


Team ItalianPod101.com

Saturday at 03:59 AM
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Are there any other video or audio demonstrations that help explain how to properly pronounce the "closed e" and the "open e" ?

grazie millie

Saturday at 12:46 AM
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Hello Birdlover10,

Thank you for leaving the comment.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

Best Regards,


Team ItalianPod101.com

Saturday at 12:03 AM
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