There’s a lot to know when it comes to learning Italian grammar rules. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some tips and tricks on forming singular and plural nouns…
To become proficient in the language, it’s essential to understand how to form singular and plural in Italian. After all, nouns are a cornerstone of the Italian language—or any language for that matter.
Luckily, this is easy to master as the process of singular to plural nouns follows a specific pattern. Once you learn recognizable patterns and rules, you’ll be on your way to understanding and speaking Italian fluently. Let’s get started!
Italian Grammar Rules for Singular and Plural Nouns
Understanding these basic grammar rules will help you form singular and plural nouns.
- Identifying the gender of a noun: If a noun is feminine, it generally ends in –a in the singular, and if it is masculine, it generally ends in –o in the singular. For example: la mela (feminine) and il ragazzo (masculine).
- Exception to the gender rule: Nouns that end in –e can be feminine or masculine. For example: il ristorante (masculine) and la notte (feminine)
Change the Ending to Pluralize the Noun
In English, we usually add -s to pluralize a noun. In Italian, the most basic way to pluralize singular nouns is by changing the ending from one vowel to another.
If a noun ends in…
- -o, the ending changes to –i in the plural.
- -a, the ending changes to –e in the plural.
- -e, the ending changes to –i in the plural.
- -ca, the ending changes to –che in the plural.
- -ga, the ending changes to -ghe in the plural.
|il libro||i libri|
|la bambina||le bambine|
|o studente||gli studenti|
Nouns That Don’t Change When Pluralized
Feminine nouns that end in –à don’t change. To pluralize these nouns, you use the plural word for the, adjectives in the plural, etc.
|la città||le città|
|la loro università||le loro università|
You also don’t change words that end in a consonant.
|il film||i film|
|il computer||i computer|
|il DVD||i DVD|
You may also be interested in: Tips on How to Learn Italian Fast and Effectively
Nouns with Irregular Plurals
There are several exceptions to the Italian grammar rules listed above.
- Some common masculine nouns get the ending -a in the plural form.
- Some feminine nouns ending in -a that change to -i in the plural.
- There are certain masculine nouns ending in –a that change ending to –i in the plural, along with nouns ending in –o and –e, which can be masculine or feminine.
- Another type of noun with a spelling change are those that end in –cia or –gia. If the –i in this ending is unstressed in the singular, it drops the –i in the plural. However, if the –i is stressed, it is retained in the plural.
|un uovo||le uova|
|il lenzuolo||le lenzuola|
|il problema||i problemi|
|la mano||le mani|
|la mancia||le mance|
|la farmacia||le farmacie|
In Italian grammar, other nouns are abbreviated, which are shortened to make them easier to write and say. La foto, for example, is short for la fotografia.
These nouns retain the same ending in the plural shortened forms (le foto). Similarly, nouns that end with an accented vowel or a consonant don’t change in the plural, either. See examples below:
|il caffé||i caffé|
|il film||i film|
Interested in a video to summarize what you’ve learned about singular and plural in Italian? Check this out:
Thank you to 99problemi for the use of this video!
Final Thoughts on Italian Grammar
An essential part of understanding Italian grammar and nouns is also understanding what articles accompany them, including definite and indefinite articles. You can read more about articles in this blog post.
While there are many exceptions to noun rules, the basics of forming singular and plural in Italian will take you quite far. As you work with your Italian tutor, you can learn the exceptions through practice, listening, and repetition. Before you know it, you will naturally form singular and plural nouns perfectly!