Pronunciation of grazie; the most mispronounced word in Italian?

25th April 2023

The mistake you might not realise you’re making! Is _grazie_ the word Italian learners mispronounce the most?


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Ever had the feeling that your pronunciation of grazie is just slightly… off? 

If so, don’t worry, you’re in good company. 

This word is perhaps responsible for more pronunciation mistakes than any other among Italian learners.

Read on to find out what makes grazie so hard to get right, and pick up some tips on how to pronounce it correctly every time!

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What’s hard about the pronunciation of GRAZIE?

Picture this: you’ve just asked for the bill and the waiter comes over smiling. You settle up and just before leaving you turn and say grazi! 

Unwittingly, you’ve just made the most common mistake when it comes to pronouncing grazie - getting the ending wrong. Not only that, the -R- was really English, and the whole word came out sounding a bit like “grassy”. 

If you’re struggling with the pronunciation of grazie, worry not, it’s totally normal. In fact, grazie is actually a really hard word to pronounce - until you know how. 


Firstly, it contains three sounds that are super tricky to get right. One alone makes any word quite a challenge. 

Secondly, Italians don’t emphasise the ending. It’s hard to hear the details when native speakers pronounce it. That means you’ve got little to go on as a learner, and it’s easy for your own mispronunciation to go unnoticed.

Finally, it’s a word you learn early on, before you’ve got the know-how to defend yourself - the Italian equivalent of sending a skiing novice down a black run.

The fact you’ve been using this word since the beginning makes it a habit that’s hard to change - most students end up saying grazi or grazia for years before realising they’ve been getting it wrong. 

But all that’s about to change! In the next sections, we’ll break down the pronunciation of grazie so you can say it like a true Italian. 

Starting with the strangest bit: the IE ending.

How to pronounce the ending of GRAZIE: IE


It’s that simple. The IE ending should be pronounced like you would the word “yeah” in English. 

Try it: grats - yeah

You sound more Italian already! 

Even better. Imagine you’re talking to a sour-faced teen. You ask if they’ve tidied their room and they reply with a sulky “yeah”. That’s the kind of “yeah” we want for this ending. Not a long, thoughtful “yeah”. It should be a short, brittle “yeah”. A have-you-remembered-the-milk “yeah”.


Some sources recommend pronouncing it like “graht-see-eh”. But pronouncing the ending as two syllables (see-eh) can sound unnatural, because you’ll find yourself drawing it out too much. To say it like an Italian, you need to pronounce a short, sharp “yeah”, without too much emphasis. 


Just in case you need more convincing, think of the Italian word ieri, which means “yesterday”. Do you know how we pronounce that word?

Ieri - Yeah-Ri

Strange but true! Here’s the rule: when “i” goes before another vowel in Italian it often turns into a “Y”. 

Other words like this include:

  • Pieno (P-yeah-no) - “full”
  • Dieci (D-yeah-chi) - “ten”
  • Piace (P-yah-cheh) - “like”

Let’s try one more time with grazie…


Got it? Perfetto! 

We mentioned earlier that there are actually three sounds which make the pronunciation of grazie tricky. Moving back through the word, the next one is the Italian Z sound.

How to pronounce the Z sound in GRAZIE

Do you like cats? What about rats? And bats? All those words end in TS, and that’s the sound of Z in grazie.

You might recognise this Z sound from a familiar kind of Italian food. Think of the last time you had a pizza with mozzarella cheese on top… Mmm… 

The next time you need to say grazie, just think of pizza! The tricky part of the Z is combining it with the “yeah” sound of the ending which we talked about earlier. It produces a kind of TS-yeah sound.

You can practise this sound by starting with similar sounding words in English. You know how some people shorten the word “congratulations”, to “congrats”? 

Let’s take the last part: “grats”. 

Now try saying: “grats yeah” - but put the words together. How fast can you say it?

grats-yeah, grats-yeah, grats-yeah, gratsyeah, gratsyeah!

You’ve got it! 

Next, onto the final challenging sound at the beginning of the word: the Italian flicked R.

How to pronounce the R of GRAZIE

Getting a good Italian R is a considerable feat for an English speaker. This kind of sound just doesn’t exist in English… or does it?

The R of grazie is surprisingly close to the English D. Try saying grazie out loud, but instead of an R sound, make it a D:


Start by saying it slowly: 

g-dazie, g-dazie, g-dazie, g-dazie

Then speed things up and try to join them together: 

g-dazie, g-dazie, gdazie, gdazie, gdazie, gdazie, grazie, grazie!! 

As you say it faster and faster, it becomes almost indistinguishable from grazie. 

It’s also a lot like the American “T” sound in the middle of words like “gotta” or “butter”. The way the tongue flicks up quickly against the roof of the mouth is exactly what you want to be repeating when you say R in Italian.

For the G-R sound then, you could try saying “gutter”, with an American English accent. Gradually try to reduce the space between the “g” and “t” sound, until you’re left with the sound we’re after.

For a more detailed look at how to pronounce this R sound, don’t miss this quick tutorial.

Now you know how to pronounce grazie, let’s practise using it in some natural sounding phrases!

Some useful phrases with GRAZIE

Italians don’t always say grazie on its own, so in this section, you’ll learn some typical phrases with grazie. 

Let’s imagine a friend does something really nice for you. For those times when a simple grazie just won’t cut it, you can say: 

Grazie mille! - Thanks so much (Lit: Thanks a thousand!)

Quick pronunciation tip: once you start combining grazie with other words, it’s really easy to revert back to grazi instead of a proper grazie. Remember to pronounce the grats-yeah ending with these phrases too. 

And just after, when you say mille, don’t forget to pause on the “L” sound: mil-le. Give it a go!

Grats-yeah mill-le

Our next phrase is very practical. Often, when someone thanks you, the feeling’s mutual, so you reply with “no, thank YOU!”. In Italian, we say: 

Grazie a te - Thank you (Lit: thanks to you)

To be formal, for example, when thanking someone you don’t know, like a waiter or a ticket inspector, you should say: 

Grazie a lei - Thank you (Lit: thanks to you)

Finally, do you know how to say thanks for everything? 

Grazie di tutto - Thanks for everything

Now it’s time to say grazie for reading! Do you remember what you learned? First let’s do a quick review, then you can test your knowledge with our quiz. 

Pronunciation of GRAZIE: Review

It’s deceptively tricky, because of the three difficult sounds:

  • The ending - think grumpy-teen yeah! Graz-yeah
  • The Z sound - think TS like “cats” or “pizza”: Grats-yeah
  • The R - say it like a D and it will sound almost the same: G-dats-yeah

Once you’ve mastered the pronunciation of grazie, you can practice saying it in these phrases: 

  • Grazie mille = thanks so much 
  • Grazie a te = thank YOU (informal)
  • Grazie a lei = thank YOU (formal) 
  • Grazie di tutto = thanks for everything

Next, onto a quick quiz!

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Vocabulary: Pronunciation of grazie

Vuoi un caffè? = do you want a coffee?
Sì, grazie = yes, thank you
No, grazie = no, thank you
Ecco il tuo caffè = here’s your coffee
Grazie mille = thanks so much
Zucchero = sugar
Amaro = bitter

Quiz: Pronunciation of grazie

How much did you learn? Find out in the quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Pronunciation of grazie

Flashcards: Pronunciation of grazie

Remember the vocabulary from this lesson by downloading the digital flashcards

Not sure how it works? Click here to watch the tutorial

Transcript: Pronunciation of grazie

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

K: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti! Hi everyone and welcome to Learn Italian with Joy of Languages. 

Before we get started with today’s episode, we wanted to let you know that the doors to our Online Italian School are opening in just a few days! If you’d like us to notify you when registration opens, click the link in the description.

M: We’d love to see you there!

K: Grazie for your interest in the online Italian school. 

Speaking of grazie, have you ever wondered about the pronunciation? It’s such a simple word but the details are quite hard to get right!

M: What makes this word so tricky?

K: Well, when we break it down there are not one, not two but three challenging sounds that don’t come naturally to English speakers. But once you know how to pronounce them, everything clicks into place. We’ll show you how in this episode. 

M: First, let’s listen to a typical conversation in Italian. Next, we’ll break it down and you’ll learn each of these sounds along the way. 

K: Vuoi un caffè?

M: Sì, grazie.

K: Zucchero?

M: No, grazie.

K: Ecco il tuo caffè. 

M: Grazie!

K: Amaro, come la vita. 

M: Grazie mille [tono sarcastico]

K: First I said:

M: Vuoi un caffè?

K: Do you want a coffee? Literally that’s:


vuoi - you want

un - a 

caffè - coffee

K: Then Matteo said:

M: Sì, grazie 

K: Yes, thank you.

Our first sound is the one everyone makes a mistake with at some point when learning Italian. Diana, one of the teachers in our online school, who recommended this topic, told me that Italian learners usually get the ending wrong, saying either “grazi” or “grazia”. Listen to Matteo again and focus on the ending:

M: Grazie.

K: If you listen carefully, it ends in an “eh” sound, and just before it there’s a “y” sound: 

M: Grazie.

K: The trick to getting this ending right is to pretend you’re saying “yeah” in English. Just like a grumpy teenager if you asked them if they’ve tidied their room. “Yeah”.

Grats-yeah. Have a go!

M: Grazie (x3)

K: Some resources recommend pronouncing it like “graht - see - eh” with two syllables at the end “see” and “eh”... But that can lead you to over pronounce the ending. When natives say it, it’s a short, sharp “yeah” sound. 

M: Grazie. 

K: If you just say “yeah”, at the end, you should naturally make that sound with no problems! Let’s pratice again, getting faster and faster: grats - yeah, grats - yeah, grats-yeah, grats-yeah, grazie, grazie, grazie.

M: Grazie

K: Then we heard:


Zucchero? - Sugar

No, grazie. - No, thank you.

K: As this is our second example of grazie, let’s look at our second tricky sound. Moving back through the word, we come to the letter “Zed” or “Zee” for our American audience.

M: Which is not the same as in English.

K: No, it’s more like a T-S sound. Very similar to the “ts” in the English word “cats”. CATS. GRAZIE. 

M: It’s the same as another Italian word you might know: “PIZZA”.

K: Think of the food: PIZZA, NOT the leaning tower of PISA. 

M: PiZZa.

K: or moZZarella.

M: Mozzarella.

K: Let’s hear it in our word for today: 

M: Grazie (x3)

K: You can practise this sound by starting with similar sounding words in English. You know how some people shorten the word “congratulations”, to “congrats”? 

M: Sì…?

K: Let’s just take the last part: “grats”. 

M: “Grats”

K: Now try saying: “grats”, then “yeah” - but put the words together. How fast can you say it?

grats-yeah, grats-yeah, grats-yeah, gratsyeah, gratsyeah, gratsyeah! 

M: Grazie!

K: Next, you heard:

M: Ecco il tuo caffè

K: Here’s your coffee. Word for word: 


Ecco - here

il - the

tuo - your

caffè - coffee

K: And Matteo once again says: 

M: Grazie! 

K: Time for our third and last challenging sound: the “R” after the G… GR.

M: Gr.

K: Here’s a weird secret to getting a good Italian R sound: Try saying grazie but instead of an R, go for a D.

M: G… dazie

K: As you say this faster and faster, the D sound becomes more like the Italian R. Start slowly: G-dazie, g-dazie, g-dazie, g-dazie. Then speed things up and join them together: G-dazie, g-dazie, gdazie, gdazie, gdazie, gdazie, grazie, grazie, grazie!

M: Grazie! 

K: We call this a “flicked R” because of the way your tongue quickly flicks behind your teeth.

It’s the same sound you get if you speak American English, and you say the “T” in “butter” or “gutter”, or “gotta” as in “gotta go”. The tongue just flicks up to the roof of the mouth. In fact, you could also try saying “gutter”, and gradually get rid of the “uh” sound between the G and T. 

K: Gutter… gutter, gutter, g-tter, g-tter, gtta, gtter. As you say it faster, you can hear the “T” sound becoming the Italian R. G-tta, g-tta, g-tta, gra, gra, gra, grazie, grazie, grazie! 

M: OK, so let’s put all those sounds together:

K: G… GR… GRA… GRAZ… GRAZIE! Or working backwards:


K: Grazie Matteo!

M: Prego. 

K: Finally, we heard:
M: Amaro, come la vita. 

K: Bitter, like life. Literally:


Amaro - bitter

come - like

la - the

vita - life

K: Sometimes Italians say this when they don’t take sugar in their coffee. 

M: Yeah, it’s a nice little joke that would definitely make Italians smile if you say it. 

K: Next, Matteo said: 

M: Grazie mille (x 3)

K: As you know, grazie means “thanks”. Mille means thousand. So grazie mille literally means “thanks a thousand”. 

M: We use it when we want to say “thanks so much” or “thanks a lot”. 

K: And we’ll tell you a little secret about this phrase… I still make mistakes with this one!

M: Oh yeah! You sometimes say grazi mille…, so “grazi”, instead of fully pronouncing the yeah ending. 

K: Yeah, I think it’s because I’m saying something else straight after grazie, so it’s easier to forget about the ending. Hopefully by sharing this, it will make you more forgiving of your own pronunciation mistakes! But you can already start pronouncing it better than I do, by paying attention to the “yeah”. 


Grats-yeah mille, grats-yeah mille, grazie mille

K: Grats-yeah mille, grats-yeah mille, grazie mille. Did I get it right? 

M: Sì! 

K: Grazie mille. 

M: Grazie mille.

K: Let’s listen to the conversation one more time. Can you hear all those tricky sounds you just learned? 

K: Vuoi un caffè?

M: Sì, grazie.

K: Zucchero?

M: No, grazie.

K: Ecco il tuo caffè. 

M: Grazie!

K: Amaro, come la vita. 

M: Grazie mille [tono sarcastico]

K: And grazie a te, thank YOU for listening! As always, you’ll find everything written down and bonus materials for this lesson by heading over to our website. 

M: And if you think you might like to join us in our online Italian school, click the link in the description. We’ll send you all the information as soon as doors open. 

M - See you next time.

K - Or as we say in Italian.

Alla prossima!

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