At this stage of your learning, you have probably noticed that the Italian language is rich in compound words. Such words result from the union two nouns, adjective, verbs or adverbs. The meaning of compound words is often easy to grasp once you know the single words they are made of.
The difficult both learners of italian and italian native speakers encounter with compound words is to determine their plural form. To do so, it is necessary to look in detail at the words they are composed by:
l’asciugamano (verb ‘asciugare’ + noun ‘mano’)
la cassaforte (noun ‘cassa’ + adjective ‘forte’)
lo scolapasta (verb ‘scolare’ + noun ‘pasta’)
il cavatappi (verb ‘cavare’ + noun ‘tappi’)
We can make the plural form of this nouns by considering that:
-if a word is given by the union of a verb and a noun, the name is the only part that changes, but it happens only if it is singular.
il portachiavi (= chiavi is plural, so it doesn’t change) – i portachiavi
l’asciugamano (= mano is singular so it changes)– gli asciugamani
– if a word is given by the union of two nouns of the same genre, the second one changes in the plural.
la banconota = la banca (feminine) + la nota (feminine) > le banconote
– if a word is given by the union of two names of different genre, in the plural the only name that we have to change is the first one.
il pescespada (= il pesce + la spada) – i pescispada
– if a word is given by a noun and an adjective, in the plural the change is total.
la cassaforte (=la cassa + forte) – le casseforti
We have many exceptions.
il portachiavi – i portachiavi [keychain]
il tostapane – i tostapane [toaster]
l’aspirapolvere – gli aspiraplolvere [vacuum cleaner]
il cacciavite – i cacciavite [screwdriver]
il portaombrelli – i portaombrelli [umbrella stand]
il videoregistratore – i videoregistratori
il telecomando – i telecomandi [remote control]
l’asciugacapelli – gli asciugacapelli [hairdryer]
il pescespada – i pescispada [swordfish]
il pianoforte – i pianoforti [piano]
il genitluomo – i gentiluomini [gentleman]
l’asciugamano – gli asciugamani [towel]
la cassaforte – le casseforti [safe]
il supermercato – i supermercati [supermarket]
il passamontagna – i passamontagna [balaclava helmet]
il motociclista – i motociclisti [motocyclist]