Italian double consonants

Making sense of the Italian double consonants – The C sound

Double consonants… one of the biggest hurdles of the Italian language, right? They’re the reason why some Italians might pronounce some English words with a double consonant when there isn’t actually any. And they’re the reason behind a lot of misunderstandings if you don’t pronounce them the right way.

If they’re not part of your first language sound system, you might have a hard time with them. Both when you try to hear them and when you try to say them.

So, in this article, we’re going to see the difference between the single and double C, both in its “soft version” and in its “hard version”.

Ready? Let’s begin!

The soft double C

First things first, let’s hear the difference between the single soft C and the double soft C

Single soft C

Double soft C

Italian double consonants

Soft C – Game 1

Now, we’re going to play a game.

You’re going to hear some nonsense words with either the single soft C sound or the double soft C sound.

Why do we start with nonsense words instead of real words?

Because, if you’ve learned real words with the wrong pronunciation, chances are you will get confused quite easily. Research has shown that it’s better to start with nonsense words to become familiar with a new sound. After that, it will be easier for you to hear and say that sound in real words.

Now, back to us.

For each nonsense word that you hear, mark whether you hear a single sound or a double sound. You’ll find the solutions in the next table. You can print out this table and mark with a pen.

Single soft CDouble soft C
1
2
3
4
5
6

And here you have the solutions to the previous game. How did it go? Remember that you might need some tries before you can catch the difference between these two sounds. So, play the track a few times and, even better, play it again in the next few days.

Single soft CDouble soft C
1CI
2CCI
3CCE
4CE
5CCIA
6CIA
understand Italian conversations

Soft C – Game 2

And now, let’s make it more real. You’re going to listen to eight words. For each word, mark whether you hear a single soft C or a double soft C.

Once again, you can print out the table below and mark what you hear with a pen.

Single soft CDouble soft C
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

And again, here you have the solutions. This time, I would like you to

  • play the track again
  • listen to these words
  • say these words out loud
Single soft CDouble soft C
1Doccia
2Baci
3Pace
4Accetto
5Aceto
6Faccia
7Acciuga
8Dolce
Italian double consonants

The hard double C

And now, it’s time to move on to… the hard C sound. We’re going to do just the same that we did with the soft C, and we’re going to start with the difference between the single hard C and the double hard C.

Single hard C

Double hard C

Hard C – Game 1

And now, it’s time for some more nonsense words. This time with the single and the double hard C sound.

The procedure is the same as before: listen to the audio track and mark with a pen whether you hear a single or a double sound. Once again, the solutions are in the next table.

Single hard CDouble hard C
1
2
3
4
5
6

And as promised, here you have the solutions. How did it go?

Single hard CDouble hard C
1CO
2CCO
3CCHI
4CHI
5CCA
6CA
Italian double consonants

Hard C – Game 2

And now let’s go back once again to real life. You’re going to hear eight words with the single hard C sound. Listen and mark if you hear a single sound or a double sound.

Single hard CDouble hard C
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

And here you have the solutions to this exercise. Once again, play the track, listen to the words and then repeat them out loud.

Single hard CDouble hard C
1Oca
2Chitarra
3Occhio
4Casco
5Macchina
6Mucca
7Parco
8Pacco
Italian double consonants

Over to you!

Now it’s time for some mixed practice!

You’re going to listen to six words taken among the ones that you heard and saw in the previous exercises.

Take a pen and a piece of paper

Play the audio track a few times

Write down the words that you hear

You’ll find the solutions below this exercise.

1.______________________________

2. ______________________________

3. ______________________________

4. ______________________________

5. ______________________________

And as promised, here are the solutions to this last exercise.

  1. Dolce
  2. Pacco
  3. Macchina
  4. Pace
  5. Parco
  6. Faccia

Phew! It’s been hard work, hasn’t it?

I hope you liked these exercises and I hope you can take something with you after doing them.

Remember to repeat them over the next few days. Don’t leave your brain alone. Lend it a hand to help you learn better.

Italian double consonants

References

Nation Paul, Newton Jonathan, Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking, Routledge, 2009

Pegoraro Chiara, Fonetica pratica della lingua italiana: come pronunciare corretamente l’italiano.regole ed esercizi, ALMA Edizioni, 2020

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