This lesson will show you how to create the plural form of Italian nouns.
It’s important to know the gender of the word (masculine or feminine) and you can usually work this out by looking at the vowel it ends with.
To turn a singular word into a plural one, you usually only need to change the final vowel, though there are of course plenty of exceptions!
Singular nouns ending in “-o” are usually masculine. To produce a plural you need to change this ending to “-i“,
il cavallo → i cavalli (the horse – the horses)
il tavolo → i tavoli (the table – the tables)
Nouns ending in “-a” are usually feminine. To create the plural form you need to change the final vowel to “-e“.
la carota → le carote (the carrot – the carrots)
la sedia → le sedie (the chair – the chairs)
But some nouns ending in “-a” are masculine, in which case the plural is “-i“.
il problema → i problemi (the problem – the problems)
il poeta → i poeti (the poet – the poets)
And similarly some nouns ending in “-o” are feminine and their plural is the same as the singular form.
la radio → le radio (the radio – the radios)
la foto → le foto (the photo – the photos)
Club member Ida writes: Words like ‘la radio’, ‘la foto’, ‘la moto’ or ‘la auto’ do not change in the plural because they are truncated versions of the original words ‘la radiotelefonia’, ‘la fotografia’, ‘la motocicletta’ and ‘l’automobile’. Truncated words do not change in the plural.
The plural form of singular nouns ending in “-ista” can be either “-i” (if masculine) or “-e” (if feminine).
l’artista → gli artisti / le artiste (the artist – the artists (m) / the artists (f))
il dentista → i dentisti / le dentiste (the dentist – the dentists)
Some nouns have just one form which works both for the singular and for the plural. A good example is the various nouns which end with an accented vowel.
la città → le città (the city – the cities)
la virtù → le virtù (the virtue – the virtues)
il papà → i papà (the dad – the dads)
Nouns ending in consonants (which are often borrowed ‘foreign’ words) also have identical singular and plural forms.
il computer → i computer (the computer – the computers)
lo yogurt → gli yogurt (the yogurt – the yogurts)
There are some cases in which plural nouns have a different spelling.
Some masculine substantives ending in “-co” and “-go” form their plural with “-chi” and “-ghi“.
il tedesco → i tedeschi (the German – the Germans)
l’albergo → gli alberghi (the hotel – the hotels)
Others form the plural with “-ci” or “-gi“.
l’amico → gli amici (the friend – the friends)
l’archeologo → gli archeologi (the archaeologist – the archaeologists).
Feminine nouns ending in “-ca” and “-ga” follow the same rule.
la tasca → le tasche (the pocket – the pockets)
l’alga → le alghe (the seaweed – the seaweeds)
Back to Italian Lessons 02: Plurals