• Stefano Chiaromonte

How to pronounce the C and the G correctly in Italian

Ciao! Have you found yourself struggling in pronouncing the C and G correctly in Italian? Well, I get it. Italian pronunciation is not that hard but these two sounds can be tricky sometimes. In today’s article, we will see how the C and G are pronounced in Italian and we will also see some useful examples.




The C and the G can be pronounced in two different ways: they might have a soft sound /t∫/ or a hard sound /k/.


The soft sound is the same as the "ch" sound in English, such as chair or check for the C, and the "g" sound in the word gym or the "j" sound in the word job for the G.


The hard sound is the same as the "c" sound in call for the C, and the "g" sound in go for the G.


The question is: when do we pronounce the C or the G with a soft sound, and when do we pronounce them as a hard sound? It's very easy! You'll need to pay attention to the vowel that follows the C or G, because, based on that, you will be able to make the right choice.



1. SOFT SOUND


The C and the G are pronounced as a soft sound (chair and gym) when they are followed by these two vowels: E and I. Let's take a look at a few examples:

  • Ciao (hi)

  • Baci (kisses)

  • Cielo (sky)

  • Cena (dinner)

  • Cento (hundred)

  • Giorno (day)

  • Giallo (yellow)

  • Gioco (toy, game)

  • Gesto (gesture)

  • Gemello (twin)


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2. HARD SOUND


The C and the G are pronounced as a hard sound (call and go) when they are followed by all the other vowels: A, O, and U. Let's go through some examples:

  • Poco (few)

  • Caffè (coffee)

  • Caro (dear, expensive)

  • Guerra (war)

  • Gusto (taste, flavor)


3. THE H


There’s also something else you need to remember about the Cs and the Gs in Italian: the H.


The H is normally silent in Italian. We find it in front of words of foreign origin, such as hotel, but also in a very important verb in Italian: avere (to have). For example, "I have" is “io ho” and "they have" is “ loro hanno”. The ‘h’ is silent.


But, when the H is found right after the C or the G, then it makes the sound hard. Remember that the combinations CH or GH are only found before an E or I, because with the other vowels the sound would be hard already. Some examples are:

  • Che (what)

  • Chi (who)

  • Pochi (few)

  • Perché (why, because)

  • Paghiamo (we pay)



P.S. Remember that double C or double G do not affect the sound of these two letter. For instance, if you take the word "ecco" (it means "here" in some situations like "eccomi", "here I am"), you are pronouncing the C as a hard sound because of the O not because of the double C. Same applies to the word "gocce" (= drops like "gocce d'acqua", "water drops"). In this case you pronounce it as soft sound because of the E.



I hope you enjoyed this article and I hope it helped. I also made a YouTube video on this topic that you can find on my channel (link channel subscribe). Maybe watching the video will help even more, because I will be pronouncing these sounds myself. Let me know what you think and if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!

Do you want to take your Italian to the next level? Check out my Online Italian course for beginners "Be Italiano" and start learning today to become a real Italiano, like me!