Easy Italian Lesson 2 Cognates

Easy Italian Lesson 2: Cognates are Italian words similar to English.


Italian words similar to English words are called COGNATES.

Many Italian and English Words are similar, because Italian was the source of many English words.

During the Renaissance, English borrowed many words from Italian.

In North America, English also adopted Italian words from the Italian immigrants who came to the United States in the early 1900’s.

Borrowed Italian words began a new life in English and found new uses.

Over time, some of the Italian words gradually sank from prominence or become synonyms for their more frequently used English counterparts.

Other Italian words, especially words for Italian foods, remained frequently used, and have become long since thought of as English words.

The most recently borrowed words are still recognizable as Italian, words such as ‘gnocchi’ and ‘prosciutto’.



Knowing which words are similar in the two languages will primarily help you begin to learn Italian more easily.

But this will also increase your understanding of your native language. You will see how many English words are spelled the way they are because of their Italian origin. You will see which Italian words have retained their usefulness in everyday English. You will also see which words have been relegated to being rarely used synonyms for more frequently used English words.

You will also learn more about words in English that still seem Italian, especially ones you may have seen or heard before but aren’t sure how to pronounce or spell. You may also find some useful new words in English.

So while using this book about cognates as the best way to begin learning Italian, you will also learn more about English as a side benefit. Just as when you learned English, you were unwittingly learning quite a bit about Italian also.



Easy Italian Lesson One begins by explaining how Easiest Italian is easiest because so many Italian words are similar to English words.

Easy Italian Lesson Two introduces Italian Cognates -- Italian words that are similar to English words.

Easy Italian Lesson Three reveals English words that have been adopted into Italian, in the lesson English Words in Italian.

Easy Italian Lesson Four focuses on familiar Italian words that have been adopted into English, in the lesson Italian Words in English.

Easy Italian Lesson Five reveals Italian Words Spelled Like English.

Easy Italian Lesson Six has words similar to English but with accent marks in Italian over some letters, in the lesson Italian Words with Accent Marks.

Easy Italian Lesson Seven has Italian words spelled somewhat like English, with part of the word spelled like English, but other parts spelled differently than English. Progressively it will show you Italian words spelled increasingly different from their English relatives, although still clearly recognizable as related.

Easy Italian Lesson Eight examines a different topic – a Italian word that looks similar to an English word but has a different meaning -- although it is somehow related enough to suggest the correct meaning of the Italian word.

For example, ‘LIBRERIA’ in Italian means bookstore.

So ‘libreria’ in Italian is different from the English word it resembles (library) because it means bookstore, but similar in that both have to do with books, making it easier to remember.

Easy Italian Lesson Nine introduces Italian False Cognates that reveal how in some cases a treacherous Italian word looks like an English word but has a different meaning that can be misleading.

Easy Italian Lesson Ten, Italian Pronunciation You Know from English, unlike preceding lessons about look-alikes, focuses on sound-alikes. These are Italian words you know how to pronounce, because there are some Italian words you already know how to pronounce in English.

Sound similarities are far fewer than spelling similarities. So this lesson will take you a step farther from the likenesses between the two languages toward the differences. It will prepare you for one of the logical next steps of learning -- listening to and then speaking Italian.



So exactly how much Italian do you already know -- just because you know English?

These Easiest Italian Lessons -- 11 webpages in length -- total the equivalent of 236 pages of Microsoft Word processor.

This means several things:

1. You already know a great amount Italian just because you know English.

2. These Easy Italian Lessons will not take long to read through, because they are an easy Review of English that is a quick Preview of Italian -- no study required.

3. Beginners can skim through these Easiest Italian Lessons first -- to quickly and easily get ready before any other language course, which will make that difficult course work much easier.


Easiest Italian Lessons -- Length

In number of pages of Microsoft Word


Easy Italian Lessons -- 3

Lesson 1 Easiest Italian -- 7

Lesson 2 Cognates -- 6

Lesson 3 English in Italian -- 19

Lesson 4 Italian in English -- 13

Lesson 5 Spelled Like English -- 38

Lesson 6 Accent Marks -- 5

Lesson 7 Spelled Differently -- 82

Lesson 8 Suggests Meaning -- 13

Lesson 9 False Cognates -- 11

Lesson 10 Pronunciation -- 39


TOTAL pages of MS Word -- 236



Although the main purpose of Easy Italian Lessons is to present the similarities between English and written Italian, the secondary purpose is to prepare you for the next steps in learning: listening to and then speaking Italian.

Since you are already familiar with these look-alike words in English, it is easier to focus on learning the new Italian pronunciation of a familiar word.

Mispronouncing Italian Words that Look Like English

Even while reading, which is the focus of these Easy Italian Lessons, you may find yourself trying to pronounce these Italian words that look like English ones.

Seeing any unfamiliar word in print sometimes prompts the urge to try to pronounce it.

In our native language we often can come close to the correct pronunciation of a new word by following pronunciation guidelines we have unconsciously assimilated over years of speaking our native language.

Your first reaction when you see a Italian word spelled exactly like an English one may be to pronounce it as you would in English.

With Italian, that is often not the way it is pronounced.

You have previously learned to associate a certain English pronunciation with a cognate that has a different pronunciation in Italian.

So whenever you see the word in Italian, your previously learned English pronunciation of it may interfere with your attempts to pronounce it the Italian way.

Italian pronunciation gives some people trouble, because when first seeing a new word and attempting to pronounce it, the natural tendency is to follow the rules of English pronunciation most people assimilated subconsciously.

So when it comes to guessing how a word is pronounced in a foreign language, the guess is often wrong.

A printed pronunciation guide is included so you will have help when you try to pronounce these cognates.

By sounding out the pronunciation guide, you should get the basic sound of the word — and a Italian person would probably understand you.

This pronunciation guide describes the sounds of Italian in a very simple way. Wherever possible it uses letter combinations of sounds from English that are closest to the sounds in Italian, so that you can combine these common English sounds into Italian words.

You don't have to try to make the word sound foreign -- yet. Be aware that it is difficult to reproduce the sound of Italian perfectly, just from reading a phonetic guide.

Italian has a different system of pronunciation than English, so you would hear these words pronounced somewhat differently by a native Italian-speaker.

Especially the words containing any of the letters "gn" or "ch" or “gli”, all of which the Italian pronounce differently than they are pronounced in English.)

However, you don't need perfect pronunciation to make yourself understood in a Italian-speaking country.

Tourists are not primarily concerned with perfect pronunciation -- they just want to communicate their needs.

So these Easy Italian Lessons provides you with the easiest introduction to Italian pronunciation, through Italian variations of familiar English words.

The next step is listening to recordings of Italian pronunciation, which is the best way to learn correct pronunciation.



These Easy Italian Lessons is the easiest way to introduce yourself to Italian, by concentrating on the likeness between the two languages.

This progressively leads you into Italian by using its similarities to English to make learning less difficult.

So read through these Easy Italian Lessons first, before trying to listen to or speak Italian, because most of the similarities are in the written form.

In the spoken form, many Italian cognates do not sound identical to their English counterparts.

The many written resemblances between the two languages will enable you to read a little Italian more easily than speak it or listen to it.

While words that look alike can help you learn Italian, care must be taken with any differences in meaning (explained in later lessons), because some meanings have drifted apart in the two languages over the centuries.

Care must be also be taken with differences in pronunciation (which are explained more fully in a later lesson).

In order to keep the following lessons simple, all lists of Italian words similar to English contain the most familiar examples to demonstrate the point of each lesson.

These lists are not intended to be complete, and more examples exist for each category.

These Easy Italian Lessons are the easiest way to begin learning Italian – guaranteed.

These Easy Italian Lessons will prepare you easily and enjoyably for your next steps in learning Italian.



Return to Easy Italian Lessons.



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