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In Italian all nouns, whether they refer to things, animals or ideas,  are either masculine or feminine.  Sometimes the gender of a noun is quite obvious, for example: ragazza (girl) is a feminine noun, and ragazzo (boy) is a masculine noun.  But other times it is not quite so obvious; in fact sometimes it can be quite puzzling.  For instance fiore (flower) is masculine, while guerra (war) is feminine, amore (love) is masculine, while pistola (gun) is feminine.  Go figure!

Most masculine nouns end in –o in the singular, and change into –i in the plural, while most feminine singular nouns end in –a, and change into –e in the plural.  

However, there are some nouns that end in –e in the singular and change into –i in the plural.  These nouns can be either masculine or feminine.  If you don’t know the gender of these nouns, you may look it up in a dictionary.

Here is a table and some examples:

Masculine Singular                       Masculine Plural

--------                                            ----------i

bambino (child)                                 bambini

libr(book)                                        libri

gatto   (cat)                                        gatti

ragazzo  (boy, young man)               ragazzi


--------e                                             ----------i

padre (father)                                   padri

can (dog)                                       cani

studente  (student)                           studenti

fiore   (flower)                                    fiori



Feminine Singular                       Feminine Plural

-----------                                      ----------e

mamm (mother)                           mamme

rosa  (rose)                                      rose

borsa  (bag, purse)                         borse

bambina  (female child)                 bambine

ragazza   (girl, young woman)       ragazze 


------------                                    ------------i

madre (mother)                             madri

televisione (tv)                               televisioni

scrittric (female writer)              scrittrici

cane (dog)                                    cani

Adjectives and Agreements:

Adjectives follow very much the same rules.  But you have to keep in mind that in Italian, adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun to which they refer.  That means that the ending of an adjective - the last letter  - has to follow the gender (either masculine or feminine) and the number (either singular or plural) of the noun it is connected.

Most adjectives have four forms ending in:


Masculine Singular         Masculine Plural

-----------o                           ----------------i

italiano   italiani

ragazzo italiano ragazzi italiani

americano americani

bambino americano bambini americani

rosso  (red)                       rossi

gatto rosso                        gatti rossi

buono (good)                    buoni

gelato buono                     gelati buoni


Feminine Singular           Feminine Plural

------------                         -------------e

bella                                      belle                

bella casa                             belle case

buona                                   buone

buona bambina                     buone bambine


However, there are also many adjectives which only have two forms, one for the masculine and feminine singular and one for the masculine and feminine plural.  These adjectives always end in –e in the singular:


Mas/Fem Sing                                  Masc/Fem P

------------e                                         -----------i

inglese (English)                                inglesi

John è inglese                                   John e Mary sono inglesi*

Mary è inglese                                   Mary e Jane sono inglesi


grande (big, large)                         grandi        

casa grande                                       case grandi

bambino grande                                 bambini grandi          


giovane                (young)                   giovani

ragazzo giovane                                 ragazzi giovani

ragazza giovane                                 ragazze giovani                



*Remember when you have a mixed group of people (men and women) the adjectives referring to them have to have a masculine plural ending.


**Notice that adjectives of nationality, such as italiano, americano, inglese, are not capitalized in Italian.