Italian Accents: 30 Words you need to know! | ELLCI

30 Italian Words with accents

Italian words with accents

30 Italian Words with accents


Most of the Italian words you will study are pronounced phonetically. This means that once you have the sound corresponding to certain graphic signs, you can apply it to all the words you come across, without exception.

Italian is described in the world as a very musical language, with sounds that go up and down. This happens depending on the emphasis given to a syllable within a word. Speaking with the correct pronunciation therefore means knowing which syllable.


Most Italian words place the accent, that is, the intensity with which a sound is pronounced is increased, on the penultimate syllable. These words are called flat (also called paroxitone), such as: casa/home, cellulare/cell phone, leggo/(I) read, intermezzo/ interlude. In standard written Italian, the accent is indicated only when it is found at the end of the word, as in caffé/café, città/city, così/so, virtù/virtue, oblò/porthole.


The syllable and the stressed vowel are called tonic; the others, on the other hand, are called atone/unstressed.

The Italian spelling uses two symbols to indicate the tonic vowel of a word:

grave accent (`), which is placed on the open” e “and” o “, but also on the other three vowels” a, i and u “.

When a, i, o or u are the last letter of an accented word, the accent will always be grave: à, ì, ò, ú, like this: virtù/virtue, già/already, giù/down, più/plus, ciò/that.

acute accent (´), which is placed on the closed “e” and “o”.

Closed vowels are pronounced with the mouth more closed, the lips closer together, something like speaking with a smile.

Open vowels are pronounced with the mouth more open as in laughter.


When to use accents in Italian


Some accents are required, and they count as a misspelling if they are forgotten.

Others are optional, you find them mostly in dictionaries to avoid confusion, while others shouldn’t be used at all.

Always use the accent in these cases:

  •   In truncated words that have more than one syllable

comò / dresser, carità / charity, però/however, virtù/ virtue

  • in compound words, even on those that alone should be written without an accent

tre /three ▶ ventitré (venti+ tre)/ twentythree

me/me ▶ nontiscordardimé/ forget-me-not

  • In some monosyllables they might be mispronounced as bisyllables

già/already, that, giù/down,più/more, può/ he can, ciò/ that

  • In some monosyllables which must be distinguished from homonymous words

the present indicative of dare, da as in from (preposition) and da’ as 2nd person of the imperative of the verb to give

La somma dà come risultato dodici/The sum is twelve.

 Il corso di nuoto è stato pagato da me./The swimming course was paid for by me.

– è (verb to be) / e (conjunction)

Luca Argentero è un attore italiano/Luca Argentero is an Italian actor.

Ho preso un frullato con fragola e banana./ I had a strawberry and banana smoothie

– là (adverb of place) / la (article or pronoun)

Sono di là / I’m over there.

La scrivania / The desk

La vedi / Do you see her?

(adverb) / li (pronoun)

Vengo lì /I come there 

Li ho presi io/ I got them

– né (conjunction) / ne (adverb or pronoun)

Né carne né pesce / Neither meat nor fish.

Me ne vado / I’m leaving

– sé (pronoun) / se (conjunction)

La cosa in sé. / The thing itself.

Se piove, non andiamo./ If it rains, we don’t go.

– sì (affirmative adverb) / si (pronoun)

Sì, ha detto che viene. / Yes, he said he comes.

Si prende troppo sul serio. / He takes himself too seriously.

– tè (tea, drink) / te (pronoun)

Ho voglia di tè freddo. / I crave iced tea.

Parlami di te. / Tell me about yourself.


(verbo) – ti dà del filo da torcere da (preposizione) – vengo da Roma
(nome) – lavora tutto il dì di (preposizione) – lavora solo di domenica
è (verbo)- è proprio strano e (congiunzione) – io e te
(avverbio) – lei vive là la (articolo) – prendi la mela
(avverbio) – aspettami lì li (articolo) – li vuoi questi?
(congiunzione) – né Mario né Luigi,  ne (pronome) – ne ho visti tanti
(pronome) – lo prese con sé  se (congiunzione) – se ti perdi, cosa fai?
(affermazione) – dimmi di sì si (pronome) – si ricorda di me?
(nome) – vuoi tè o caffè te (pronome) – vengo con te


The graphic accent, on the other hand, is optional for those words that are written in the same way but have a different meaning and pronunciation.

  • Nòcciolo / nocciòlo

Il nòcciolo della questione/ The core of the question

Un albero di nocciòlo/ A hazelnut tree

  • Prìncipi / princìpi

I prìncipi sono arrivati a palazzo / The princes have arrived at the palace

È contro i miei princìpi/ It is against my principles

  • Séguito / seguìto

Il séguito alla prossima puntata /The sequel to the next episode

Ho seguìto la lezione attentamente / I followed the lesson carefully 


Do not confuse the accent with the apostrophe


Be careful not to confuse the accent, which must be placed above the letter, with the apostrophe, which follows the vowel. The apostrophe should never be used as a substitute for the accent, neither in uppercase nor in lowercase.


The most common mistakes are:


(non-existent form) instead of po’, short for poco/ little

Vorrei un po’ di prosciutto /I would like some ham

(day) instead of di ‘for the 2nd person of the imperative of the verb dire

Di’ la tua /Have your say

Una volta al dì/ Once a day


Grammar Exercises on How to use accents in Italian