Pronunciations and Resources

Praying in Sacred Language

How to Pronounce Ecclesiastical Latin

Ecclesiastical Latin is different from the Latin you might learn in High School; it’s basically Latin with an Italian accent (and a few other differences), the way Latin’s been pronounced since at least around the 3rd and 4th centuries. It’s actually pretty easy to pronounce as the rules are few and have so much in common with English and modern Italian. As a general rule, just set your mouth to speak Italian, with the slightly trilled “R,” and pronounce every vowel and consonant you see the same way an Italian would, with few exceptions. Vowels with acute accent marks are “long vowels.” 

Helpful tip: In Latin, you pronounce everything. So for example a double long vowel, you pronounce both: i.e. in the word tuum you pronounce both u’s ‘oo’ sounds. Memorize the vowel sounds and diphthongs below. Say them aloud repeatedly until you are familiar with them. 

Vowel Sounds:


Short Sound


Long Sound


like the A in “facility”


AH, like the A in “father”


EH, like the E in “met”


AY like the AY in “may”


I like the I in “hit”


EE, like the I in “machine”


O like the O in “loss”


O, like the O in “for”


U like the U in “put”


OO, like the U in “Jude”

Y & Diphthongs:

EE, like Y in “family”
Æ  EH, like E in “met”
EI AY, like EI in “reign”
Œ EH, like E in “met”
AU  AH-oo, almost like OU in “mouse”

 The consonants sound the same as in English for the most part, with the following exceptions:

Before e, i, ae, oe and y:

These letters
become soft:
and sound like:
C CH as in “cherry”
CC TCH as in “matching”
SC SH as in “ship”
G G as in “gentle”
More tricks:
T followed by the letter I + another vowel, and not preceded by
 S, T, X
TS as in “Betsy”
(ex., “gratia” is pronounced “grah-tsee-ah,” but “modestia” is pronounced “moh-des-tee-ah”)
TH  T as in “thyme” 
GN NY as in canyon, or like the Spanish ñ
CH K as in “Christ”

After an E or followed by a vowel, X sounds like GS, as in “exam”

Followed by a consonant, or at the end of a word, X sounds like KS, as in “tax”

R very slightly roll the R, touching the tip of your tongue to the top and front of your palate, making almost a slight D sound, like a Scottish R
V V sounds like the English “V”, not like “W” as in Classical Latin
H silent except for two words, where it sounds like a guttural, German “CH” or K sound as in “ich” or “key”: nihil and mihi
J Y, as in “young” (J is usually replaced with an I, as in “Iesus” for “Jesus”)
Z pronounce like “ds”

Double consonants are each pronounced, but it comes off sounding like a single letter that is held just a tad longer, the same way the L’s in the word “tailless” are held longer, but each pronounced so quickly they could almost be mistaken for one sound

What Syllable to Accent:

Two syllables: 
Accent the first syllable

Three or more syllables: 
If the next to the last syllable has a long vowel sound, accent that syllable

If the next to the last syllable has a short vowel sound, accent the syllable before it 

Next step to pray in Latin: Start praying and listening to the most common prayers in Latin. It is recommended to begin with the Latin Rosary, available here along with the audio for each prayer. Also check out the full online Latin prayer book with printable and downloadable pages

If you’re interested in learning Latin (to pray twice as they say), check out these books here.

Also Latin Missals and Prayer Books are available in the Latin Shop. (*100% of proceeds go to non-profit support for prayer in Latin.)

citation reference for pronunciations courtesy of

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