To recognize whether a consonant is doubled or not, it takes time, exercise and a good ear!
In Italian, all consonants (except H) can be doubled to indicate a stronger and more decisive sound (“passo”, “latte”, “collo”).
If the word is correctly pronounced, you can understand quite easily if it contains a double consonants or not. However, it is not so obvious: in some Italian regions, it’s common to pronounce a single consonant like a double; in others instead, double consonants are pronounced as if they were single. Moreover there are also rules valid only for spoken language but not for the written language, so a word is pronounced in a way but written in another…
So when a double consonant is necessary? Is there a precise rule? Unfortunately, not! But here you can
find 7 tips to avoid some of the most common errors:
1. An Italian word never begins or ends with a double consonant. Double consonants are always preceded and/or followed by a vowel. * Exceptions: the words of foreign origin may have a double consonant at the end of the word, for example: “pull”, “call”, etc.
nb: Attention to pronunciation! The initial consonant of a word is often pronounced as if it was double, but in reality it is not. It’s a PHONETIC doubling. Just a matter of pronunciation, not of written language! casa = [kasa] / a casa = [ak’kasa], male [male] fa male = [fam’male]
2. DO NOT double: B+ILE at the end of a word, for example: adorabile, leggibile, probabile, responsabile. (The same rule also applies to B+ALE, B+ELE cannibale, babele, but there are very few words ending in -Bale or -bele).
3. DO NOT double: G/Z + IONE, for example prigione, stagione, stazione, attenzione, azienda.
4. DO NOT double words that contain -ZIA and -ZIE: amicizia, egiziano, pazienza. *exception: pazzia.
5. The letter Q, is only doubled is the word “soqquadro”.
6. The words with suffix -IERE want the double Z: corazziere, tappezziere, biscazziere.
7. ATTENTION TO DOUBLE PAIRS!
The double consonant is also used to distinguish words otherwise ‘identical’ that have a completely different meaning. In this case also the pronunciation is very important!
For example: polo – pollo, capello – cappello, pala – palla, papa – pappa, cane – canne! (listen audio 3)
Listen with attention and double consonants will have no more secrets for you! 🙂