Italian grammar: Plural of nouns by ending

The plural of Italian nouns by changing the ending

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(To better understand the contents of this lesson, we suggest you first read the sections on "gender of nouns in Italian")

In the vast majority of situations, the plural of a noun is obtained by altering the ending of its singular form.

Nouns ending in "-co" and "-go" will be treated in-depth in the next page.

Depending on the endings, nouns can be divided into three classes:

- Nouns ending in "-a"
- Nouns ending in "-o"
- Nouns ending in "-e"

The following table may be helpful to better understand:
Singular Plural
Masculine and Feminine Masculine Feminine
Nouns ending in "-a"...

Examples:
Problema - masculine
Casa - feminine
change the ending in "-i"

Examples:
Problemi (problems)
change the ending in "-e"

Examples:
Case (houses)
Nouns ending in "-o"...

Examples:
Libro - masculine
Mano - feminine
change the ending in "-i"

Examples:
Libri (books)
change the ending in "-i"

Examples:
Mani (hands)
Nouns ending in "-e"...

Examples:
Cane - masculine
luce - feminine
change the ending in "-i"

Examples:
Cani (dogs)
change the ending in "-i"

Examples:
Luci (lights)

NOTE:
It is very important to remark that these "rules" does not apply to all nouns. In fact, there are many nouns that behave differently.

Let's see which ones:

Click here to see the lesson about the plural of nouns ending in "-co" and "-go"

1. Nouns ending in "-ca" and "-ga":

In Italian, the nouns ending in "-ca" and "-ga" form the plural as follow:

Singular Plural
Masculine and Feminine Masculine Feminine
Nouns ending in "-ca"...

Examples:
Duca - masculine
Amica - feminine
change the ending in "-chi"

Examples:
Duchi (Dukes)
change the ending in "-che"

Examples:
Amiche (girl - friends)
Nouns ending in "-ga"...

Examples:
Collega - masculine
Strega - feminine
change the ending in "-ghi"

Examples:
Colleghi (collegues)
change the ending in "-ghe"

Examples:
Streghe (witches)


2. Nouns ending in "-cia" and "-gia":

In Italian, the nouns ending in "-cia" and "-gia" form the plural as follow:

A) If the "-i-"of "-cia" or "-gia" is stressed, form the plural in "-cie" and "-gie", retaining the "-i-":

Singular Plural
Nouns in "-cìa" or "-gìa" ("i" stressed)...

Examples:
Farmacia (lie) - accent → farmacìa
Bugia (lie) - accent → bugìa
change the ending in "-cie" or "-gie"

Examples:
Farmacie
Bugie

B) - 1) If the "-i-" is unstressed and "-cia" or "-gia" are preceded by a consonant, these nouns form the plural in "-ce" and "-ge", dropping the "-i-".

B) - 2) When the "-i-" is unstressed and "-cia" or "-gia" are preceded by a vowel, the "-i-" is retained, except in cases where the presence of the "-i-" could lead to confusion with another word.

We must emphasize that for many Italian words of Latin derivation, both forms are allowed. We suggest students of Italian to follow the rule set out above, and if in doubt, to consult a dictionary.

Singular Plural
Nouns in "-cia" or "-gia" ("i" unstressed)...

Examples:
Arancia (orange) - accent → arància
Frangia (fringe) - accent → fràngia
Valigia (suitcase) - accent → valìgia
Ciliegia (cherry) - accent → ciliégia
change the ending in "-ce" or "-ge"

Examples:
arance
Frange
Valigie / valige (both forms are allowed)
Ciliegie / ciliege (both forms are allowed)

But...

3. Nouns ending in "-io":

In Italian, all nouns ending in "-io" form the plural under the following rules:

A) If the "-i" is stressed, they form the plural in "-ìi"

Singular Plural
Nouns in "-ìo" ("i" stressed)...

Examples:
Zio (uncle) - accent → zìo
Rinvio (postponement) - accent → rinvìo
change the ending in "-ii"

Examples:
Zii
Rinvii

A) Iif the "-i" is unstressed, they form the plural in "-i"

Singular Plural
Nouns in "-io" ("i" unstressed)...

Examples:
Cambio (change)
- accent → càmbio
Figlio (son) - accent → fìglio
change the ending in "-i"

Examples:
Cambi
Figli

There are cases where the plural of nouns ending in "-io" are identical to those of other words. In these cases, the noun that ends in "-io" or changes the ending in "-ii" or an accent is placed on the stressed syllable.

Nowadays, however, there is a tendency to use the form with only one final "-i" and the ambiguity can only be clarified by the context.

4. Nouns that in the plural become feminine:

In Italian, a few masculine nouns ending in "-o" become feminine in the plural. See also: "nouns which have more than one form".

5. Irregural plurals:

In Italian, there are also some nouns that in the plural change the root.
Posted by Arnaldo Colonna on Jaunary 5, 2010 - All rights reserved


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