In this article, I am going to talk about the double letters in Italian. This is a topic pretty important, but sometimes it can be taken for granted. If you would like to be able to speak Italian well, with good pronunciation, you should definitely read this article and understand why you should focus on double letters.

I will also give you some tips to practice. What are you waiting for? Keep reading and discover more about double letters!

The use of the double letters in the Italian language is a topic that is often underestimated by those who learn this language. For this reason, one of the things that I always tend to point out during my lessons is the following:

“When you see double letters, you have to pronounce the double letters!”.

This sentence may seem obvious, but this little trick can make the difference, both in terms of pronunciation and listening.

A little task for you: take a text in Italian with tho audio, even this one if you want, and try to focus on the double letters. Listen to the audio and pay attention to the pronunciation of the consonants. You will see how these letters are pronounced more decisively than single letters.

Why is it important to pronounce doubles?

In Italian, there are many words, which can totally change depending on they are written with a single consonant or a double. Don’t believe it? Here are some simple words that I am sure you know:

Nona (ninth) – Nonna (grandmother)

Pala (shovel) – Palla (ball)

Pani (loaves) – Panni (clothes)

Sono (I am) – Sonno (sleep)

Caro (dear) – Carro (wagon)

As you notice, these are very similar words on a graphic level, but they have nothing in common in terms of meaning.

I know, identifying and pronouncing doubles letters is not so simple for foreigners. This was confirmed to me more than once by an Argentine student of mine, who told me that for Spanish speakers to hear and understand the difference between words with a single letter or double letters is far from easy.

Remember, the Italians mostly are helpful and cordial, and if for any reason you say in Italian Buonanote instead of Buonanotte, or Sono in pane and not Sono in panne, he/she will understand you without problems.

How to practice with doubles

In order to improve speaking skills and your pronunciation there are many exercises you can do. Obviously, each one will have a preferred method, but it is always good to vary a little.

Reading

As already mentioned at the beginning of this article, read a lot, and aloud trying to emphasize the doubles you find in the text.
Pay attention to them and try to pronounce the words with double letters correctly, as they should be pronounced (not longer but stronger).
Further, try to pronounce the word with a single consonant, just to listen to the difference.

Listening

You can watch Italian movies with Italian subtitles if you love cinema, but I suggest you read articles like this, where you can listen and read the text at the same time. The advantages of these articles are two:

  • They are quite short, and this allows you to practice in your spare time, even if you have only ten minutes.
  • They allow you to kill two birds with one stone. It means that you can practice simultaneously with reading and listening.

Obviously, the listening that you need to do in this case, must be focused on the double letters. Pay attention to the way native speakers emphasize them. In addition, you should also try to imitate native speakers.

Conclusion

It is not always easy to keep all aspects of the language you are learning under control. It is a fact that double letters are an essential component of the Italian language.

There are two reasons why you should try to identify words formed by a single or double letter. The first is to be able to express the right thing at the right time. The second reason is to understand what people are telling you, even though for understanding a big help comes from the context, as I already mentioned in the article 7 tips for avoiding panic when you speak Italian.

In general, do not feel stuck, do not put yourself down if your pronunciation is still lacking, and you cannot express yourself as well as you would like. Identify your weaknesses and start working on them.

Read this text in Italian

Read more about the rules of the double letters!

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