THE GENDER OF NOUNS IN ITALIAN. You can opt-out at any time. The general rule is that nouns ending in “-o” are masculine and nouns ending in “-a” are feminine. All nouns in Italian have a gender (il genere); that is, they are either masculine or feminine, even those referring to things, qualities, or ideas. Usually, Italians will still be able to understand you, so just focus on expressing yourself and don’t worry about having perfect grammar. (not arrivati).The recruits arrived. All nouns in Italian have a gender ; that is, they are either masculine or feminine, even those referring to things, qualities, or ideas. In Italian every noun has a gender (masculine or feminine) and a number (singular or plural). However, there is not always a correspondence between "grammar" gender and "natural" gender. In these instances, the agreement of words that refer to the noun should take into account the grammatical gender: La sentinella è attenta.The sentinel is attentive. She also hosts the 30 Minute Italian podcast. Usually, Italian singular masculine nouns end in -o, while feminine nouns end in –a(-tà). The names of metals and chemical elements: The names of the months and days of the week (except Sunday): The names of mountains, seas, rivers, and lakes: The names of the sciences and in general abstract notions: The names of continents, states, regions, cities, and islands. 1. nearly all words ending in –a are feminine. There are a number of exceptions, like il poeta, "the poet," being masculine, but you can stick to the rule above when in doubt. Le reclute sono arrivate. In Italian there are only 2 genders: masculine and feminine. Michael San Filippo co-wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Italian History and Culture. Italian nouns almost always end with a vowel. Il soprano è bravo. He is a tutor of Italian language and culture. from another one. This can be a strange concept to native English speakers as cars are often not thought of as being feminine (except to car aficionados) and dogs are not thought of as being masculine, like in Italian. Grammatical “gender” is really just a way of classifying nouns. There are some simple rules that will enable you to work out the gender of a very large number of Italian nouns from their last letter in the singular: nearly all words ending in –o are masculine. Examples of -a endings include -ma, -ista and -a: 1. il problemma(problem) 2. il tema(theme) 3. il cinema(theater) 4. il sistema(system) 5. il programma(program) 6. il clima(climate) 7. l’artista(artist) 8. il dentista(dentist) 9. il giornalista(journal… ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. In Italian, common and proper nouns can be feminine or masculine, singular or plural. Regarding people and animals, the distinction is in relation to sex; nouns of male living beings are masculine: padre (father), scrittore (writer), infermiere (nurse), gatto (cat), leone (lion), while nouns of female living beings are feminine: madre (mother), scrittrice (writer), infermiera (nurse), gatta (cat), leonessa (lioness). Some examples of masculine nouns include (with the Italian on the left and the English translation on the right): The most important element to look for to determine the gender is the definite article, but you’ll notice that nouns ending in -e may be masculine or feminine. The gender of Italian nouns can be often established by looking at the word ending, but there are many exceptions. Most Italian nouns (i nomi) end in a vowel. Nouns that end in a consonant are of foreign origin. Usually: Nouns ending in -o are masculine (m.): prosciutto (ham), ragazzo (boy), armadio (wardrobe), treno (train), tavolo… This can be a strange concept to native English speakers as cars are often not thought of as being feminine (except to car aficionados) and dogs are not thought of as being masculine, like in Italian. Other common words covered by this rule include those that would seem to be masculine (ending in -o), but are actually feminine because the words from which they are derived are feminine (ending in -a): Similar to English, Italian has a different ending when a noun is singular or plural. For more details, see our Privacy Policy. (not bravo)The soprano is good. (Those that don’t are most probably foreign in origin.) In Italian, the gender of a noun can be maschile (masculine) or femminile (feminine). Feminine nouns end with -a for singular, -e for plural (ragazza – ragazze); 3. Masculine nouns end with -o for singular, -i for plural (ragazzo – ragazzi); 2. All nouns have a Gender. Unlike English, there are four possible endings instead of English’s one, as shown in these tables: Nouns ending with an accented vowel or a consonant do not change in the plural, nor do abbreviated words, as in these examples: Learning the gender and number of each noun takes practice, so don’t stress if you still make mistakes. In Italian, the gender of a noun can be maschile (masculine) or femminile (feminine). Although there are some exceptions, the following are the rules that Italian nouns usually follow: 1. For the nouns of things (both concrete and abstract) the distinction between genere maschile or genere femminile is purely conventional; only with use over time have words such as abito, fiume, and clima been assigned the masculine gender, while others such as cenere, sedia, crisi have been established as feminine. This happens because abbreviated nouns retain the gender of the words from which they are derived. They can either be masculine or feminine, according to the context of the sentence. You need to memorize the gender of these nouns. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Formation of Italian Plural Nouns Ending in -O, Italian Indefinite Articles - Articoli Indeterminativi, Adjectives in Italian: Form and Agreement, Italian Direct Object Pronouns With Passato Prossimo, When to Use the Partitive Article in Italian, Conjugating Italian Verbs in the Passive Tense, Un caffè (one coffee) = due caffè (two coffees), Un film (one movie) = due film (two movies), Una foto (one photo) = due foto (two photos). NOUNS IN ITALIAN (i nomi / sostantivi) Nouns are the labels we attach to people, animals, things, abstract concepts, actions or facts and that let us distinguish a person, an animal, a thing, etc. Conversely, there are other nouns that refer to women, even though they are grammatically considered the male gender: il soprano, il mezzosoprano, il contralto. There are, in fact, several nouns of the type that, while considered feminine in grammatical gender, denote men: la guardia (guard), la vedetta (sentry), la sentinella (sentry), la recluta (recruit), la spia (spy). And by following some simple rules, you can learn to classify the great majority of Italian nouns. "Cinema” comes from cinematografo, making it a masculine noun. You’ll start to notice that some words that would seem to be feminine—like “cinema” since it ends in an -a—are actually masculine. When nouns end with -o, it is usually masculine: 1. il bambino(baby) Some nouns that end with -eare also masculine: 1. il professore(professor) 2. il padre(father) 3. il cane(dog) 4. il pane(bread) 5. il dottore(doctor) An ending of -a can indicate a masculine noun as well. The goal of learning a foreign language will always be connection instead of perfection. In order to know the gender of a noun, you only have to check its ending. There is a third category of gender-neutral nouns that end with -e for singular and -ifor plural. According to the meaning, the following are masculine: According to the meaning, the following are feminine: Depending on the ending, the following are masculine: Nouns ending in -e, unless they belong to certain classes of suffixes (-zione, -tore, -ite), can be either gender: il ponte, l'amore, il fiume, il dente; la mente, la fame, la notte, la chiave. 2 How to recognize what gender a noun is. Definite Articles Il and Lo in Early Italian, Italian Ordinal Numbers and Numerical Rank, The Gender of Countries in the German Language, 10 Common Errors In Italian Usage: Italian Grammar Mistakes, Learn About German Plural Nouns With -n and -en endings, M.A., Italian Studies, Middlebury College.