Noun (Nome)

 
 
Italian nouns end in -o, -a, -tà, -e and, rarely, in -(t)ú. These ending in -o are inherited from the Latin
Second declension, and those in -a -- from the First declension. The nouns in -tà and -tú had formerly longer forms in -tate and -tute and as the other nouns in -e descended from the Latin Third declension. The word tribú tribe has preserved the -u of the Latin Forth declension, while the other nouns of this class acquired the ending -o.

See more details in the Declensions in Vulgar Latin.

Nouns of non-Latin origin may have different endings, mainly a consonant or an -i.
 
 
Gender of the Nouns (Genere dei Nomi)

As in the other modern Romance languages, the nouns in Italian are either of masculine or of feminine gender.

Usually, the nouns in -o are  masculine and those in -a (-tà) are feminine, cf.:
 

Masculines in -o Feminines in -a (-tà)
  • tavolo table 
  • sviluppo development 
  • organismo organism 
  • casa house 
  • rosa rose 
  • città city 

The nouns in -e may be masculine or feminine. Those referring to males are masculine and those referring to females are feminine, cf.:
 

Masculine Feminine
  • padre father 
  • imperatore emperor 
    ...
  • madre mother 
  • imperatrice empress 
    ...
 
For the nouns that denote inanimate objects gender seems randomly assigned and it is to be memorized:
 
Masculine Feminine
  • amore love 
  • codice code 
  • cuore heart 
  • giudice judge 
  • latte milk 
  • mare sea 
  • mese month 
  • sole sun 
  • arte art 
  • corte court, yard 
  • croce cross 
  • fede faith 
  • legge law 
  • luce light 
  • pace peace 
  • voce voice 
 
Often the gender may be recognized by the suffixes.

Nouns ending in -tore / -sore (agent; often corresponding to E. -tor, -sor), -ore (abstract nouns; often corresponding to BE. -our), -ione (agent etc.; often = E. -ion), -one (augmentative = E. -on) etc. are masculine:

Nouns ending in -trice (agent), -tudine  (corresponding to E. -tude), -zione (-sione) / -gione (corresponding to E. -tion (-sion) / -son), etc. are feminine:

Nouns in -tú, like gioventú youth, servitú slavedom, virtú virtue etc., are feminine. The noun tribú tribe is masculine.

The nouns of non-Latin origin, ending in consonant, like film film, sport sport, tram tramway etc., are masculine. The nouns of Greek origin, ending in -i, like analisi analysis, sintesi synthesis etc., are feminine.

Abbreviated nouns retain the gender of the words from which they are derived.

For more details see Suffixes of Nouns.
 
 
Feminine of the Nouns (Femminile dei Nomi)

Feminine is often obtained from masculine by the alternation -o : -a in the endings, cf.:
 

Masculine Feminine
  • amico friend 
  • bambino little boy  
  • cugino cousin (he) 
  • figlio son 
  • maestro master, teacher 
  • orso he-bear 
  • ragazzo boy 
  • zio uncle 
  • amica friend 
  • bambina little girl 
  • cugina cousin (she) 
  • figlia daughter 
  • maestra teacher (female) 
  • orsa she-bear 
  • ragazza girl 
  • zia aunt 
 
The alteration -e : -a also occurs, cf.:
 
Masculine Feminine
  • signore mister 
  • padrone master, owner 
  • signora mistress 
  • padrona mistress of the house 
 
Feminine can be derived through suffixation:
 
Suffix Change Examples

Masculine

Feminine

Masculine

Feminine

-|a

-|essa

poeta poet poetessa poetess

-|e

principe prince principessa princess

-|o

patrono patron patronessa patroness

-|e

-|ina

eroe hero eroina heroine

-|o

gallo cock gallina hen

-|tore

-|trice

direttore director direttrice manageress
 
Sometimes masculine and feminine are derived from different (or modified) roots:
 
Masculine Feminine
  • frate friar 
  • fratello brother 
  • padre father 
  • padrino godfather 
  • uomo man 
    ...
  • becco / capro he-goat 
  • bove / toro bull  
  • montone ram 
  • papero gander 
  • paperone drake 
  • porco / verro boar 
  • suora nun 
  • sorella sister 
  • madre mother 
  • madrina godmother 
  • donna woman 
    ...
  • capra she-goat 
  • mucca / vacca cow 
  • pecora sheep 
  • papera / anatra goose 
  • oca duck 
  • scrofa / troia female swine 
 
See the List of
Masculine and feminine nouns of different roots.
 
 
Nouns of common gender (Nomi di genero commune)

These are nouns with one form for both genders. Here are included:

1. All the nouns suffixed by -ista, cf.:

2. Some other nouns, like:

 
  • camerata comrade 
  • compatriota compatriot 
  • eresiarca heresiarch 
  • idiota idiot 
  • omicida murderer 
  • patriot(t)a patriot 
  • amante lover 
  • cliente client 
  • commerciante trader 
  • consorte consort 
  • erede heir 
  • interprete interpreter 
  • martire martyr 
  • nipote nephew, niece 
  • rivale rival 
  • testimone witness 

etc.

 
See also
Nouns of common gender in -a.
 
 
Nouns of epicene gender (Nomi de genero epiceno)

These are nouns having but one form to indicate either sex. The natural sex is indicated by the adjectives maschio male and femmina female:

See also Homonyms of different gender with different meaning.
 
 
Plural of the Nouns (Plurale dei Nomi)

Generally, the plural is derived according to the following rules:
 

.

Endings Examples

.

Sg. Pl. Singular Plural

 

-|o -|i letto bed letti beds

 

-|a -|e donna woman donne women

 

-|e -|i leone lion leoni lions

 

-|tà unchanged città city città cities

 

-|tù unchanged virtù virtue virtù virtues

 

-|è unchanged (un) caffè (one) coffey (due) caffè (two) coffeys

 

-|i unchanged analisi analysis analisi analyses

 

[cons.] unchanged tram tramway tram tramways
 
Note:
Nouns ending with an accented vowel or a consonant do not change in the plural, nor do the abbreviated words.

In these cases the plural is recognized by external indicators, as articles, pronouns etc, cf.:
 

  • il tribù : i tribù
  • la città : le città
  • l'analisi : gli analisi
  • la virtù : le virtù. 
 
 
Phonetic and Orthographic Particularities
(Particolarità Fonetiche ed Ortografiche)
 

.

Endings Examples

.

Sg. Pl. Singular Plural

 

-|ico -|ici amico friend (he) amici friends

 

-|ica -|iche amica friend (she) amiche friends

 

-|co -|chi casco helmet caschi helmets

 

-|go -|ghi lago lake laghi lakes

 

-|ga -|ghe paga salary paghe salaries

 

-|cia -|ce faccia face facce faces

 

-|cìa -|cie farmacia drugstore farmacie drugstores

 

-|io -|i operaio worker (he) operai workers
  -|ìo -|ii zio uncle zii uncles
  -|ia -|ie operaia worker (she) operaie workers
 
 
Irregular Plural Forms (Forme Irregolari di Plurale)

The noun uomo man has irregular plural form: uomini men.

The words of common gender in -a have different forms for masculine and feminine in plural, cf.:

A few masculine nouns in -o, which were of neuter gender in Latin, form plural in -a and change their gender to feminine, cf.:

See the List of Masculine nouns with plural forms in -a.

A greater number of masculine nouns in -o have two forms in plural: one in -i (masculine) and another in -a (feminine); these nouns are also inherited from the Latin neuter gender. Often the forms in -a (historically more archaic) is preserved in idiomatic expressions, but sometimes the different plural forms are associated with change in the meaning, cf.:

For more details see Nouns of two plurals.
 
 
Nouns of Greek origin (Nomi d'origine Greca)
 
The nouns of Greek origin tend to preserve the gender they have in Greek (the nouns of neuter gender being classified as masculine). Thus:

The nouns suffixed by -ma and -ta are masculine, cf.:

They form plural in -i, cf.:

See also the List of Masculine nouns ending in -a.

Note that the words ending in -ma and -ta of Latin origin are regularly feminine, cf.:

The nouns suffixed by -si are feminine:

In plural they remain unchanged.

The separate treating of the Greek words was inherited from the Classical Latin where they had a declination pattern of their own.
 
 
Pluralia tantum

These are nouns used in plural only. The most important between them are:
 

  • annali (gli) annals 
  • baffi (i) moustache 
  • calzóni (i) slacks 
  • dimissióni (le) resignation 
  • dintórni (i) environs, surroundings 
  • fèrie (le) vacation, holidays 
  • fòrbici (le) scissors 
  • gemèlli (i) twins 
  • narici (le) nostrils 
  • nòzze (le) wedding, nuptials 
  • occhiali (gli) glasses, spectacles 
  • rèdini (le) reins 
  • spèzie (le) spices 
  • tenàglie (le) pliers, tongs 
  • tènebre (le) darkness 
  • vìveri (i) victuals 
 
See a List with more details.

Some geographical names are used in plural only:

 
Singularia tantum

These are nouns used in singular only. The most important between them are:

1. The proper names: Giovanni John, Maria Mary, Roma Rome, Italia Italy etc.

2. Nouns, designating objects and phenomena unique in themselves, such as:

3. Nouns, designating substances, materials, products etc.:

If used in plural, they denote types, kinds or separate peaces.

4. Abstract nouns, denoting quality, action or state:

5. Nouns implying a total plurality.

6. The nouns suffixed by -ismo and the names of the sciences, as:


See also the
Index of Nouns with Particularities.
 
 
 


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