Italian Nouns

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Italian Language

Guide to Italian Nouns

Most nouns derive from Latin, from Greek or from a Latinization of foreign words:

Derivation of noun inflections

Latin declension
1st (-a / -ae) poeta / poeti "poet(s)" rosa / rose "rose(s)"
2nd (-us / -i) carro / carri "truck(s)" -e
3rd (-Ø,-is / -is) cane / cani "dog(s)" parete / pareti "wall(s)"
3rd (-as / -atis) città / città "town(s)"
4th (-us / -us) passo / passi "step(s)" mano / mani "hand(s)"
5th (-ies / -iei) specie / specie "species"
Greek words problema / problemi "problem(s)" crisi / crisi "crisis", "crises"

Any other noun, both those from Latin with an unusual ending and those derived from languages other than Latin or Greek, and not Latinized (cifra - meaning "digit" - and ragazzo/ragazza - meaning "boy/girl" - are from Hebrew and Arabic respectively, but they are Latinized), and nouns ending with a stressed vowel are not inflected, thus:

  • il re / i re ("the king(s)": rex / reges)
  • il caffè / i caffè ("the coffee(s)")
  • il film / i film ("the film(s)")

There are certain words (neuter in Latin) that are masculine in the singular and feminine or masculine in the plural:

  • il braccio / le braccia or i bracci ("the arm(s)")
  • l'uovo / le uova ("the egg(s)")
  • il ginocchio / le ginocchia or i ginocchi ("the knee(s)")
  • il sopracciglio / le sopracciglia or i sopraccigli ("the eyebrow(s)")

These nouns' endings derive regularly from the Latin neuter endings of the second declension (sg. -um / pl. -a), but there are some from the third declension: e.g. il gregge / le greggi (flock(s), but i greggi works, too); the tradition of calling them "irregular" or "mobile gender" (genere mobile) would come from the paradigm that there are so few nouns of this kind that the existence of neuter can be considered vestigial. The choice of plural is sometimes left to the user, while in some cases there are differences of meaning:






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