Understanding Italian nouns

Nouns are words used to name or identify a person, animal, place, thing, or idea. Examples include: girl, hat, coat, weather, picture, coffee, hotel.

Nouns are one of the most basic parts of speech They can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition. Italian nouns are divided in common, nomi comuni, and proper, nomi propri.

So this free lesson is all about naming things. By the time you're done you'll know all about common and proper nouns, as well as how to identify masculine and feminine versions. You'll also discover the mysterious third category of nouns...

Lets get started.

Common and Proper Italian nouns

Download
nomi comuni
common
Download
nomi propri
proper

Nomi comuni indicate persons, animals, places, things like ragazzo - kid, dottore - doctor, cane - dog, fiume - river, or abstract ideas like bellezza - beauty, speranza - hope, giustizia - justice, etc.

Download
ragazzo
kid
Download
dottore
doctor
Download
cane
dog
Download
fiume
river
Download
bellezza
beauty
Download
speranza
hope
Download
giustizia
justice

The nomi propri indicate specific beings or things, which are characterized by a proper name: Italia, Roma, Paolo, Marco, etc. Nouns can be divided also for genre, masculine and feminine, and number, singular and plural.

Download
Italia, Roma, Paolo, Marco
Italian, Rome, Paolo, Marco
    Most of the nouns agree with the following rules:
  • Masculine nouns end with –o for singular, -i for plural.
  • Feminine nouns end with –a for singular, -e for plural.
  • A third category of nouns end with –e for singular, -i for plural; they can be masculine or feminine, according to the vocabulary.

Regular Nouns: rules and examples

Masculine nouns ending with –o (singular)

Download
tavolo
table
Download
museo
museum
Download
libro
book
Download
coro
chorus
Download
corpo
body
Download
cielo
sky
Download
appartamento
apartment
Download
suono
sound

Masculine nouns ending with –i (plural)

Download
tavoli
table
Download
musei
museum
Download
libri
book
Download
cori
chorus
Download
corpi
body
Download
cieli
sky
Download
appartamenti
apartment
Download
suoni
sound

Feminine nouns ending with –a (singular)

Download
casa
house
Download
finestra
window
Download
sedia
chair
Download
strada
street
Download
maglietta
t-shirt
Download
testa
head
Download
fotografia
photo
Download
penna
pen

Feminine nouns ending with –e (plural)

Download
case
house
Download
finestre
window
Download
sedie
chair
Download
strade
street
Download
magliette
t-shirt
Download
teste
head
Download
fotografie
photo
Download
penne
pen

Third Case nouns ending with –e (singular).

These can be masculine or feminine, according to the vocabulary.
Download
bicchiere (M)
glass
Download
studente (M)
student
Download
ristorante (M)
restaurant
Download
fiume (M)
river
Download
luce (F)
light
Download
nube (F)
cloud
Download
mese (M)
month
Download
ape (F)
bee

Third Case nouns ending with –i (plural).

These can be masculine or feminine, according to the vocabulary.
Download
bicchieri (M)
glass
Download
studenti (M)
student
Download
ristoranti (M)
restaurant
Download
fiumi (M)
river
Download
luci (F)
light
Download
nubi (F)
cloud
Download
mesi (M)
month
Download
api (F)
bee

Irregular nouns: rules and examples

Many Italians nouns are irregular. Here are some examples.


1. The following nouns have the same form at singular as well as at plural:

Rule
Example
English
Download
Monosyllable nouns
re
King
Download
Nouns ending with a vowel with accent
università
University
Download
Foreign nouns
film, goal
Film, goal
Download
Nouns ending with –i
analisi
Analysis
Download
Feminine nouns ending with –o
auto
Car
Download
Masculine neologism ending with –o
euro
Euro
Download
Feminine nouns ending with –ie
specie
Species

2. Masculine nouns with –ma at the singular end with –mi at the plural.

Singular
Plural
English
Download
problema
problemi
problem/problems
Download
tema
temi
thema/themas

3. Feminine nouns ending with –ca and –ga at singular end with –che and –ghe at plural

Singular
Plural
English
Download
domenica
domeniche
Sunday/Sundays
Download
collega
colleghe
colleague/colleagues (F)

4. Masculine nouns ending with –co and –go:

  • end with –chi and –ghi at plural if the accent is on the second last syllable
  • end with –ci and –gi at plural when the accent is on the third last syllable

Some words, like amico - pl. amici, or dialogo - pl. dialoghi are exceptions.

Singular
Plural
English
Download
tedesco
tedeschi
German/Germans
Download
albergo
alberghi
hotel/hotels
Download
medico
medici
doctor/doctors
Download
psicologo
psicologi
psychologist/psychologists

Nouns which seem to have a double gender

Some nouns, which have the same stem and end with –o or –a, seem to indicate the masculine or feminine version of the same word. That’s not always true; the meaning can be completely different.


Some examples:

Noun with –o ending
English
Noun with –a ending
English
Download
corso
avenue
corsa
running
Download
collo
neck
colla
glue
Download
pianto
crying
pianta
plant
Download
torto
fault
torta
cake

Italian nouns summary

  • Nouns are words that name people, things, or ideas.
  • Nouns can be divided in common name, referring to something general and not identifying a particular person, or proper name, like the names of people, places, and institutions.
  • Nouns can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural.
  • Masculine nouns end with –o at singular, –i at plural.
  • Feminine nouns end with –a at singular, –e at plural.
  • A third category of nouns end with –e at singular, –i at plural; they can be masculine or feminine, according to the vocabulary.

Testing!

Test yourself with the Rocket Italian testing tools! Improve your knowledge of Italian and earn points for your badges along the way!

Note that the tests below are listed from easiest to hardest. Also, when a test is successfully rated the rating icon will at the top right of this page will show that rating.

comments powered by Disqus

Over 1,200,000 people love Rocket Languages

Here's what Rocket Languages members have to say:

Andrei
Freeman

Pennsylvania, USA

Rudi
Kopp

USA

Carmen
Franceschino

Pennsylvania, USA

Kelly
Scali

Chicago, USA

Mark
Waddel

Auckland, NZ

William
McGill

Florida, USA

Probably the best language tool I've come across. Actually love it more than Rosetta Stone and Duolingo

Choose either the Rocket Italian trial or the Guest User trial