Hot Tip: Pronouncing The Italian ‘Gli’ Sound

It’s a tough sound to master, but you can always fake it until you make it.
two old men enjoying a cappuccino outside gli in italian

When it comes to specific pronunciation hangups, lots of students struggle with the gli in Italian. The thing about Italian is that it’s spoken like it’s written — with maybe just a couple caveats. One of those caveats is that the letter G has different pronunciations depending on the nearby vowels.

Pronouncing the gli in Italian is especially tricky for non-native speakers, who tend to divide the two consonants such that they’re both audible.

Babbel Live teacher Nicola helps her students master this sound by physically demonstrating the position of the tongue on the palate or on the teeth.

If you’re working on your pronunciation of this sound, try pronouncing the name “Lee” and try to touch your palate with the middle of your tongue instead of the tip.

Babbel Live teacher Mariacristina also finds that students often struggle with the pronunciation of gli, so she has them run through exercises by listening to the sound and trying to repeat it a few times. However, she believes perfection is not necessary in the beginning. She often recommends that students start to get comfortable with the sound by simply pronouncing it like the double L sound in tortilla. In her words: “Good enough!”

Looking for more tips like this from top language teachers?
Try Babbel Live