How to pronounce Italian food (G and GH)

3rd April 2018

Why does the "g" in marGherita sound different to the "g" in "quattro formaGGi"? In this episode, you'll learn how to say Italian food names correctly.


Listen to the episode

You know the quattro formaggi pizza, the one with loads of cheese? If you've ever ordered one, you'll know that the "g" sound is different to the "g" in margherita pizza.

But why?

Learn how to pronounce the "g" sound in Italian, so you can order Italian food in style.

To help you remember what you learnt in today's lesson, below you'll find bonus materials like word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first...

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Bonus Materials

Remember what you learnt with the bonus materials for today's episode.

Today's Italian words

Origano = oregano
Gamberi = prawns
Funghi = mushrooms
Quattro stagioni = four seasons
Formaggio = cheese
Fagioli = beans
Menu del giorno = menu of the day
Gelato = ice-cream
Vegetariano = vegetarian
Sono vegetariano = I'm vegetarian

Take the Quiz!

How much did you learn? Find out in the 5-minute Italian quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Italian words with GH and G

Italian flashcards

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Please note: This is not a word-for-word transcript. 

Katie: How do you pronounce the letter G in Italian, and why is the G in spaghetti different from the G in the formaggio, which means cheese? Find out how to pronounce the letter G and pronounce Italian food like a pro in 5 minute Italian episode 12.

Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 minute Italian, hi everyone and welcome to 5 minute Italian. I’m Katie…

Matteo: And I’m Matteo. Ciao.

In today's lesson, we're going to continue learning how to pronounce Italian food names on a menu. This time we're going to look at the letter G.

If you've already followed our lesson on how to pronounce the C sound we've got some good news for you - you should be able to pick it up quite easily because the rules are more or less the same. So if you didn't catch that lesson, you can listen, by clicking the link in the comments below, where you will also find a list of the new words from today’s episode.

M: Let’s get started shall we? The letter G is usually pronounced as a hard G sound. Like in origano.

K: Which you can probably guess means oregano, which I think in American English is pronounced as oregano, so it's actually closer to the Italian pronunciation.

M: Gamberi, which means prawns.

K: Sometimes you'll see the letters G and H together, and this is also pronounced as a hard G sound.

M: Like in spaghetti, or in margherita. That is a type of pizza. We've also got funghi.

K: Which you may have seen before on a pizza menu, it means mushrooms. Sometimes G is pronounced as a soft J sound. Like in the English word "gin". We pronounce it this way when it's followed by the letter i or an e.

M: Like in stagioni - of quattro stagioni, which is a type of pizza.

K: Yea, I've often seen this name on pizza menus in the UK as well. What does it mean?

M: The name means 4 seasons.

K: What's on a quattro stagioni pizza?

M: Usually Ham, mushrooms, artichokes, olives...

K: Mmmmm. I could eat one of those now. Back to G. Another excellent food which is also on pizza menu is formaggio.

M: Right, which means cheese.

K: And we've got the letters GIO at the end, so the "I" after the G makes it soft.

M: Then we have faggioli.

K: Which means beans. This time with the GI spelling in the middle: faggioli.

M: And giorno. Which means day, and you might see in the phrase menu del giorno, menu of the day.

K: The first two letters of giorno are GI, so we get the soft G again.

M: We have gelato. Which I'm sure you already know means ice cream. Then we have vegetariano.

K: This is an important one. Vegetariano means vegetarian. For example you go to Italy and you want to tell the waiter that you are vegetarian. How do you say I'm vegetarian?

M: Sono vegetariano.

K: Time for a quick recap. How do you pronounce the letter G in Italian? Most of the time, it's a hard G sound.

M: Like in the word mushroom. Can you remember how to say that? We say funghi.

K: And what about if the letter G is followed by i or e?

M: We pronounce it as a soft G sound, like in gelato.

K: And probably the most important question of all... How do you say cheese in Italian?

M: Formaggio.

K: That’s all we have time for today, thanks for listening. If you’d like to get more mini Italian lessons delivered to your inbox, don’t forget to subscribe by following on the link in the comments box below. And if you liked today’s lesson, show us your support by clicking like and sharing the episode with your friends or family who are learning Italian too. Grazie, and ciao for now, see you next time, or as we say in Italian, alla prossima!

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