Italian grammar: nouns in "-co" and "-go"

Plural of Italian nouns ending in "-co" and "-go"

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It is important to clarify immediately that due to considerable a number of exceptions, the following instructions may be considered only a very general guidelines and, when coming across an unfamiliar name with these endings, we recommend to check the plural form in a dictionary.

According to the major Italian grammars (but I have found some easier guidelines in a small grammar), we can divide the Italian nouns ending in "-co" and "-go" in two classes:

A) Nouns in which the accent falls on the penultimate syllable
Singular Plural
Nouns ending in "-co"...

Examples:
Fuoco (fire) - accent → fuòco
change the ending in "-chi"

Examples:
Fuochi
Nouns ending in "-go"...

Examples:
Albergo (hotel) - accent → albèrgo
change the ending in "-ghi"

Examples:
Alberghi

But... B) Nouns in which the accent falls before the penultimate syllable
Singular Plural
Nouns ending in "-co"...

Examples:
Sindaco (mayor) - accent → sìndaco
change the ending in "-ci"

Examples:
Sindaci
Nouns ending in "-go"...

Examples:
Asparago (asparagus) - accent → aspàrago
change the ending in "-gi"

Examples:
Asparagi

But...
NOTE: Nouns ending in "-logo", in the plural tend to change the ending to "-logi" when they refer to people and to "-loghi" when they refer to things.

Examples:
Psicologo (psycologist) → psicologi, catalogo (catalogue) → cataloghi
.

A different and easier approach

(from "Italian grammar", by Marcel Danesi - Barron's editions - 2002)

In the Italian grammar, by Marcel Danesi, there are some interesting and easy tips about the plural of nouns ending in "-co" and "-go".

Nouns ending in "-co":

- Change the "-co" to "chi" when "-a-", "-o-", "-u-" or a consonant precedes it;

Examples:
fuoco (fire) → fuochi, parco (park) → parchi, buco (hole)→ buchi, etc..


- Change the "-co" to "ci" when "-e-" or "-i-" precedes it;

Examples:
amico (friend) → amici, medico → medici, greco (Greek) → greci, etc...


But...
Nouns ending in "-go":

- Change the "-go" to "ghi" in most cases. However, when the nouns ends in the suffix "-logo" and refers to a profession, career, or activity, then the approprieate plural suffix is "-logi"

Examples:
Lago (fire) → laghi, albergo (hotel) → alberghi, biologo (biologist)→ biologi, etc...


But...
Examples: catalogo (catalogue) → cataloghi, dialogo (dialogue) → dialoghi, etc...

The above rules are to be considered only as guidelines.
Posted by Arnaldo Colonna on Jaunary 4, 2010 - All rights reserved


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