Double Plurals in Italian! – I Plurali Doppi!

Welcome to a new lesson of LearnAmo! As most of you know, In Italian there are some words that have two different plurals which, however, are not synonyms! In fact, in most cases, the two plurals tend to have a different use and meaning. Today we are going to see some of these words with double plural and we will try to explain the differences. Let’s get it started!

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 Words that have 2 DIFFERENT PLURALS!

Let’s see, now, all the words with double plural and the related meaning both for the masculine and the feminine. The first one is:

  • Il Braccio (the arm)

le braccia  (feminine): it is used to indicate the upper limbs of the human being.

Example: “Io ho due braccia” (I’ve got two arms)

i bracci (masculine): it is used for all other meanings

Examples: “i bracci della gru” (the crane arms), “i bracci A e B di un edificio” (the A and B arms of a building), “i bracci meccanici…” (the mechanical arms)

Let’s continue with:

  • Il muro (the wall)

le mura (feminine): it is used to indicate the protected walls of a city or a house in its entirety

Example: “Gli piace rimanere fra le sue quattro mura” (staying at home) (He likes staying within his four walls)

i muri (masculine):  it is used to indicate the walls of a house or those which skirt a street 

Example: “I muri devono essere riverniciati” (the walls must be repainted)

  • Il grido/ L’urlo (the cry/shout/scream)

le grida/le urla (feminine): they’re used to indicate the voices or the laments of human beings.

Example: “Le grida della donna attirarono la loro attenzione” (the screams of the woman drew their attention)

I gridi/ gli urli (masculine): they’re used to refer to animal noises

Example: “I gridi dei gabbiani sono rumorosi” (The cries of the seagulls are noisy)

  • L’osso (the bone)

le ossa (feminine): it is used to indicate the human bone structure

Example: “Cadendo si è rotto le ossa del braccio destro” (In falling, he broke the bones of his right arm)

gli ossi (masculine): it is used to indicate various bones taken separately

Example: “Rocco da sempre due ossi alla sua cagnolina, Lilly!” (Rocco always gives his dog Lilly two bones)

  • Il dito (the finger)

le dita (feminine): it is used to refer to the all the fingers together of a hand

Example: “I suoi errori si contano sulle dita di una mano” (His mistakes can be counted on the fingers of a hand)

i diti (masculine): it is used to indicate the single fingers

Example: “questi sono i diti indici delle mie mani” (these are my index fingers)

 

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Coming back to the lesson, we can find words like:

 

  •  Il fondamento (the foundation/basis/fundamentals)

le fondamenta (feminine): it is used to indicate the structure where a building leans on

Example: “Le fondamenta di questa casa sembrano solide” (the basis of this house seem to be solid)

i fondamenti (masculine): it indicates the basis, the principles of a discipline or a thought ecc.

Example: “I fondamenti della fisica sono la base di tutte le ricerche” (the fundamentals of physics underline all researches)

  • Il lenzuolo (the sheet)

le lenzuola (feminine): it  indicates the couple of sheets that are used to make the bed.

Example: “Ho appena lavato le lenzuola” (I’ve just washed the sheets)

I lenzuoli (masculine): it indicates more sheets taken one by one.

Esempio: “Hanno scambiato i lenzuoli” (They switched the sheets)

  • Il labbro (the lip)

le labbra (feminine): it is used to indicate the lips of the mouth or other anatomical parts.

Example: “Maria sa leggere le labbra” (Maria can read the lips)

i labbri  (masculine): it is used to indicate the edges of a wound or the top corners of a fountain or similar objects.

Example: “ i labbri della giacca non combaciano” (the lips of the jacket don’t match)

  • Il filo (the string/wire)

le fila (feminine): it stands for “trama di un ordito” (hatched plan) or, in a metaphorical sense, for “intreccio” (interweaving)

Example: “le fila di una congiura” (the strings of a conspiracy)

WATCH OUT:  the use of fila as plural of fila (the ranks) (series, succession) is wrong, in fact, serrare le file” is the correct form

 

i fili (masculine): it is used with a concrete sense

Examples: “i fili del telefono“, “i fili della luce“… (phone wires) (wires for light)

  • Il corno (the horn)

le corna (feminine): it is used to indicate the horns of animals

Example: “Le corna del toro sono molto appuntite” (Bull’s horns are very sharp)

I corni (masculine): it is used to indicate music instruments or the ends of something

Example: “I corni dell’incudine” (anvil’s horns)

 

NOTE: In Italy we use the gesture with horns to indicate people who have been cheated by their life partners, people who are defined, in not nice and offensive way, “cornuto/a” (horned)! This is one of the many gestures Italians do and you can find in our video related to this topic.

 

Now, before you go, there’s one last thing we should talk about… the words with double singular e double plural, like:

Orecchio / orecchia –> orecchi / orecchie (ear(s))

or:

Strofa / strofe –> strofe / strofi (strophe(s)/verse(s))

In these cases, all the forms are correct, without differences in the meaning.

However, be careful to:

Frutto / frutta –> frutti / frutte (fruit(s))

because the differences with the meanings are quite defined.

frutto: it is used to indicate the product of plants coming from the blossom or, in a figurative sense, the synonym of result. The plural masculine form frutti keep those meanings

Esempi: “piante da frutto”, “alberi da frutto”, “frutto di stagione” (fruit tree) (seasonal tree)/ figurato: “il frutto delle mie fatiche” (fruits of my labor)

frutta: it indicates the food. Il feminine plural form exists but it’s obsolete.

Esempio: “la frutta fa bene alla salute” (fruit is good for your health)

 

Great! We hope you have less doubts about the words with double plural. As always you can practice by writing some sentences with double plural. We will correct any mistake.

If you want to test your Italian level, try our vocabulary video-test!

 

One thought to “Double Plurals in Italian! – I Plurali Doppi!”

  1. Grazie ancora Graziana. Molto informativo come sempre. Mi chiedo quale è il significato di “la parete / le pareti” in relazione a “le mura” e “i muri”?

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