Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Hi everybody! Marika here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Italian questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: how do you form the plural of nouns?
Explanation
In Italian, just like in English, nouns can be singular or plural depending on what they refer to. To form the plural of Italian nouns, you generally have to change the final letter of the singular form from one vowel to another.
Masculine nouns ending in –o and –a form the plural by changing the final vowel to –i.
For example, ragazzo, meaning “boy,” becomes ragazzi in the plural. And the plural of poeta, which means “poet,” is poeti.
Feminine nouns ending in –a form the plural by changing the –a to –e.
So, mela, meaning “apple,” changes to mele when it means “apples.”
Finally, there are also nouns ending in –e. Both masculine and feminine nouns that end in –e form the plural by changing the final vowel to –i.
Let’s take cane for example, which means “dog” and is masculine. The plural form is cani. Similarly, the plural of chiave, a feminine noun meaning “key,” is chiavi.
However, not all nouns follow these rules. In fact, there are lots of exceptions. Let’s see a few of them.
Some nouns don’t change in the plural. You can still tell if a noun is plural because the definite article or its adjective will be in the plural form. But, the noun itself doesn’t change.
Among the words that remain unchanged in the plural, there are:
- all nouns ending in accented vowels, like caffè (meaning “coffee”) or città (meaning “city”).
- foreign nouns ending in a consonant - for example, computer, film, or sport.
- singular nouns that end in –i (crisi, meaning “crisis,” or brindisi, meaning “toast”).
- monosyllable nouns - for example re, which means “king.”
Some nouns have an irregular plural form. For example, “man” in Italian is uomo, while “men” is uomini.
And there are even Italian nouns that change gender when they become plural. For example, “finger” is masculine in the singular form (il dito) but becomes feminine in the plural, le dita.

Outro

Plurals sometimes can be a challenge even for native Italian speakers. However, exceptions are exceptions; you shouldn’t obsess over them. Just memorize the few rules I told you in the beginning and go from there.
Pretty interesting, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
A presto! “See you soon!”

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