All Italian nouns (nomi) have a gender (genere) masculine and feminine (maschile e femminile), and a number (singolare o plurale). Nouns, genders and numbers, get together following basic rules, but as many rules are broken, there are exceptions and irregular nouns. Let’s make some clarity.
A “nome” (“noun” and “name” in Italian are the same word) represents a living being, a thing, a place or an abstract concept. It’s basically how you name things, real or abstract. In Italian, even abstract concepts have a gender. For example, the word amicizia, friendship, ending with -a is feminine.
The gender of Italian nouns can be often established by ending or by meaning but, as there are so many exceptions, the best thing to do when learning a noun is to learn it together with its definite article. IL and LO are masculine articles, LA is feminine. Their plural forms are I, GLI and LE. They are all equivalent to the English THE. If an article is masculine, the noun is a masculine
- As a rule of thumb, Italian nouns ending in -o are masculine, nouns ending in -a are feminine. In most cases, this is the right approach to avoid confusion.
- Italian nouns ending in -e may be masculine or feminine. You just need to learn “what is what” by experience.
- Italian nouns ending in a consonant are words of foreign origin and they are masculine by definition: sport, computer, mouse etc. Plurals do not decline (we say “un computer, due computer” – not computers).
- Some Italian nouns have completely different forms for the masculine and feminine, just like in English e.g. fratello (brother) and sorella (sister)
- Plural forms are generally -o/-i , -a/-e and e/-i e.g.: libro/libri, pizza/pizze, madre/madri
Please have a look at the slideshow below. Most cases and rules are simplified here, including some irregular nouns.
Please take some time to wrap up and remember the topic of today with the following free quiz. Thanks!