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Grammar, spelling, and usage

Italian Nouns
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You've heard it since grade school: What's a noun? A person, place, or thing. Nouns (i nomi) are one of the first things that people learn, whether it's their native or second language. Bicchiere, vino, funghi. Glass, wine, mushrooms. And in Italian, what's noticeable almost immediately is that nouns have endings that change depending on the gender.

The table below includes a few nouns to start with:

ITALIAN NOUNS
MASCULINE FEMININE
banco (school desk) cartella (book bag)
libro (book) lavagna (chalkboard)
nonno (grandfather) nonna (grandmother)
ragazzo (boy) ragazza (girl)
specchio (mirror) scuola (school)
zaino (backpack) materia (subject)
zio (uncle) zia (aunt)

Most Italian nouns end in a vowel—those that end in a consonant are of foreign origin—and all nouns have a gender, even those that refer to a qualities, ideas, and things. Usually, Italian singular masculine nouns end in -o, while feminine nouns end in -a. There are exceptions, of course (see table below).

ITALIAN NOUNS ENDING IN -E
MASCULINE FEMININE
giornale (newspaper) frase (sentence)
mare (sea) nave (ship)
nome (name) notte (night)
pane (bread) classe (class)
ponte (bridge) canzone (song)

All nouns ending in -amma are masculine, while all nouns ending in -zione are feminine. Almost all nouns ending in -ore, -ere, -ame, -ale, -ile, and a consonant + -one are masculine: il pittore, il cameriere, lo sciame, l'animale, il porcile, il bastone.


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