10 English Pronunciation Errors by Italian Speakers


What are the main errors for Italian speakers in English pronunciation? Here we have highlighted the top ten experienced by Italian speaking students at Pronunciation Studio:

1. /h/ and silent ‘h’

Italian speakers often miss /h/ when they should say it:

house how horse hard

To compensate, an /h/ sometimes appears where it is not wanted – between two vowels:

go away, she isn’t

2. Adding a little vowel at the end of a word

When a word ends in a consonant, Italian speakers often add a little ‘a’ afterwards:

I like them a lot.

3. Open vowel /a/

Italian has only one open unrounded vowel ‘a’, whereas English has 3 – /æ/ in ‘cat’, /ʌ/ in ‘cut’, and /ɑ:/ in ‘cart’. Italian speakers often only use their own ‘a’ in English so these words become ‘cat’ ‘cat’ and ‘cart’:

I love that park.

4. /ɪ/ vs. /i:/

A similar problem in a different area of the mouth occurs with the vowels /ɪ/ and /i:/, which are often pronounced in the same way by Italian speakers, so ‘heat’ and ‘hit’ sound the same except for their length. In fact, the vowel in ‘hit’ should be a lower position:

Fit it in.

5. Sentence stress

Italian is a Latin language which stresses every syllable. English does not – some need to be weak:

I want to go to the cinema.

6. Spelling to sound

Italian is a phonetically written language, meaning you say what you see. English is not so much, so a word like ‘particular’ may come out all wrong:


7. ‘th’

‘th’ words cause problems for Italian speakers, often being replaced by a dental t or d:

I think it’s the third thing.

8. Aspiration

When a /p/ /t/ or /k/ appears in English it is aspirated, so there is an audible explosion in pronunciation. Not so in Italian, where it is never aspirated:

Pass some time on the coast.

9. Diphthong ‘o’

Double vowels do not exist in Italian on a single vowel spelling, so when Italian speakers see words like ‘no’, ‘go’ and ‘don’t’, which should be double vowels, they often make a single ‘o’ vowel:

No, I don’t think so, Joe!

10. /r/ and silent ‘r’

The English ‘r’ sound is smooth, the Italian ‘r’ is rolled. Also watch out for ‘r’ after a vowel – it isn’t pronounced in British English, but Italians often pronounce it anyway:

Words with /r/: raw, right, wrong, red
Words with silent ‘r’: word, car, father, four

This article uses English IPA symbols – learn each of them with pronunciation notesdiagrams and audio in Pronunciation Studio’s free Starter Pack.