Sostantivi

Nouns (sostantivi) can have two genders (generi), masculine and feminine, and two numbers, singular and plural.

In general, masculine nouns end in -o (plural -i) and feminine nouns end in -a (plural -e):
il libro  (the book), i libri (the books), la casa (the house), le case (the houses).

There are exceptions:
Some feminine nouns end in -o. They either form the plural in -i:

la mano (the hand), le mani (the hands);

or (if foreign loanwords ) remain unchanged,

la foto (the photograph), le foto (the photographs).

Some masculine nouns end in -a; they form their plural in -i:

il problema (the problem), i problemi (the problems)

Some masculine nouns change their gender to feminine in the plural, with a singular-type -a ending rather than the usual plural form -e:

l’uovo (the egg) but le uova (the eggs)
il dito (the finger) but le dita (the fingers)

There are also a number of nouns which do not end in -o or -a. Nouns ending in -e, whether masculine or feminine, invariably form the plural in -i:

il fiore (the flower), i fiori (the flowers)
la lezione (the lesson), le lezioni (the lessons)

Nouns ending in -i or an accented vowel do not change in the plural:

la crisi (the crisis), le crisi (the crises)
la virtù (the virtue), le virtù (the virtues)
la città (the city), le città (the cities)

The same is true of one-syllable nouns, and of foreign loanwords ending in a consonant:

il re (the king), i re (the kings)
il film (the movie), i film (the movies)

Some nouns ending in -a or -e can be either masculine or feminine, depending on the gender of the person being named by the noun:

il pianista (the male pianist), la pianista (the female pianist)
il cantante (the male singer), la cantante (the female singer)

There are also nouns that have both genders, but with a different meaning for each:

il fine (the purpose), la fine (the conclusion)

A noun and its modifiers have the same gender and have number agreement.  If a noun is feminine, its modifiers will be feminine:

una antica chiesa (an old church)

If a noun is plural, its modifiers will be plural:

i capelli grigi (gray hairs)

There are also nouns that have both genders, but with a different meaning for each:

il fine (the purpose), la fine (the conclusion)

Maria Scalici


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