Inflection of nouns and adjectives

Inflection of Nouns and Adjectives

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Italian Language

Inflection of nouns and adjectives

Nouns and adjectives generally inflect by gender (masculine and feminine, with only some instances of vestigial neuter) and number (singular and plural). Inflection patterns are similar for the two categories:

General noun and adjectival endings for number and gender
Gender
Singular
Plural
Example
Masculine -o -i il capello nero , i capelli neri ("the black hair")
Feminine -a -e la bella macchina, le belle macchine ("the beautiful car(s)")
Masculine and Feminine -e -e il/la comandante intelligente , i/le comandanti intelligenti ("the smart commander(s)")
Masculine -a -i l'atleta entusiasta, gli atleti entusiasti ("the enthusiastic athlete(s)")
All Nouns ending with a stressed vowel singular = plural la città, le città ("the town(s)")
Non-integrated Loanwords il/la manager trendy, i/le manager trendy ("the trendy manager(s)")

In the last two examples, only the article carries information about gender and number.

The Italian hard and soft C and G phenomenon leads to a few spelling/pronunciation peculiarities in certain cases:

  • Words in -cio and -gio form plurals in -ci and -gi, e.g. bacio / baci ("kiss(es)")

  • Words in -cia and -gia have been a point of contention; according to a commonly employed rule, they:

    • form plurals in -cie and -gie if the final letter before the suffix is a vowel: camicia, camicie ("shirt(s)"); ciliegia, ciliegie ("cherry"/"cherries").
    • form plurals in -ce and -ge if the final letter before the suffix is a consonant: frangia, frange ("fringe(s)"); faccia, facce ("face(s)").
    • when the i is stressed, it always remains in plural: farmacia / farmacie ("chemist's shop(s)"), nevralgia / nevralgie ("neuralgia(s)").

  • Words in -co and -go behave quite irregularly: "the grammarians are skeptical of any attempt at giving a ruling about this area". There are only partial, empirical rules of thumb:

    • plurals are formed with -chi and -ghi if the last letter before the suffix is a consonant or a stressed vowel: fungo / funghi ("mushroom(s)"), stecco / stecchi ("stick(s)"), mago / maghi ("magician(s)"), fuoco / fuochi ("fire(s)")
    • plurals are formed with -ci and -gi if the last letter before the suffix is an unstressed vowel: comico / comici ("comedian(s)"), medico / medici ("physician(s)")
    • in words ending with -logo suffix, the plural is usually in -gi when -logo means "expert" or "student", corresponding to English -logist (e.g. archeologo / archeologi, "archaeologist(s)"), while it is in -ghi when it means "speech" or "reasoning", corresponding often to English -logue/-log (e.g. catalogo / cataloghi, "catalogue(s)").
    • there are exceptions such as amico / amici ("friend(s)"), greco / greci ("Greek(s)"), valico / valichi ("mountain pass(es)"), carico / carichi ("cargo(s)").


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GRAMMAR

ARTICLES

NOUNS

INFLECTION

ADJECTIVES


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