After this video-lesson you will be at last able to use singular and plural in Italian, but, just to be sure, also try to do the exercises after the video!
How to Form Singular and Plural in Italian
The plural indicates a change in the number (from “one” to “more than one”). Therefore, in Italian the plural is formed by changing the ending of the singular, that is the variable element at the end of every word, usually indicating gender and number of nouns; mood, tense and person of verbs.
Starting from their singular ending, the nouns are divided into 3 classes, with as many possible ways to form the plural:
FIRST CLASS: nouns ending with -a, both masculine and feminine.
These nouns form the masculine plural with -i: il pianista, i pianisti
They form, instead, the feminine plural with -e: la montagna, le montagne
SECOND CLASS: nouns ending with -e, both masculine and feminine.
These nouns form the masculine plural with -i: il maglione, i maglioni
They also form the feminine plural with -i: la classe, le classi
THIRD CLASS: nouns ending with -o, both masculine and feminine.
These nouns form the masculine plural with -i: il tavolo, i tavoli
They also form the feminine plural with -i: la mano, le mani
PARTICULAR FORMS OF PLURAL
|-ca / -ga
(il monarca, la bottega)
|Masculine: -chi / -ghi (i monarchi)
Feminine: -che / -ghe (le botteghe)
|-cia / -gia
(la farmacia, la pioggia)
|If preceded by a vowel: -cie / -gie (le farmacie)
If preceded by a consonant: -ce / -ge (le piogge)
|-scia (la fascia)||-sce (le fasce)|
|-co / -go (il pacco, lo psicologo)||There is no rule: -ci / -gi oppure –chi / -ghi
(i pacchi, gli psicologi)
|-ìo with i accented (il pendìo)||-ii (i pendii)|
|-io with i non accented (lo stadio)||-i (gli stadi)|
WORDS WITH AN IRREGULAR PLURAL
Il dito – Le dita (finger – fingers)
Il ginocchio – Le ginocchia (knee – knees)
L’uovo – Le uova (egg – eggs)
Il lenzuolo – Le lenzuola (sheet – sheets)
L’osso – Le ossa (bone – bones)
L’orecchio – Le orecchie (ear – ears)
Il migliaio – Le migliaia (thousand – thousands)
Il centinaio – Le centinaia (hundred – hundreds)
Il braccio – Le braccia (arm – arms)
These nouns are masculine in the singular but they become feminine in the plural.
Doubts about masculine and feminine in Italian? Review them with us!
L’uomo – Gli uomini (man – men)
L’arma – Le armi (weapon – weapons)
These nouns, instead, don’t change their gender in the plural, but they take an unexpected ending.
Certain nouns, instead, don’t change in the plural: they are the so-called INVARIABLE NOUNS IN THE NUMBER:
- Nouns composed of a single syllable: il re / i re (king – kings)
- Nouns ending with an accented vowel: l’attività / le attività (activity – activities)
- Nouns ending with -i: la crisi / le crisi (crisis – crises)
- Certain masculine nouns ending with -a: il sosia / i sosia (double – doubles)
- Feminine nouns ending with -ie: la carie / le carie (cavity – cavities) EXCEPT FOR la moglie / le mogli (wife – wives) and la superficie / le superfici (surface – surfaces)
- Nouns that are abbreviations of other nouns: la foto(grafia) / le foto (photo – photos), la moto(cicletta) / le moto (motorcycle – motorcycles)
- Foreign nouns ending with a consonant: il computer / i computer (computer – computers), il DVD / i DVD (DVD – DVDs)
The DEFECTIVE NOUNS, instead, are those nouns that have only the singular or only the plural.
Those nouns having only the singular:
- Uncountable nouns: il sonno (sleep), la fame (hunger), il formaggio (cheese)…
- Many nouns expressing qualities, feelings, abstract entities: il coraggio (courage), la generosità (generosity)…
- Nouns belonging to sector-specific languages: la fisica (physics), l’azoto (nitrogen), la matematica (mathematics)…
Those nouns having only the plural:
- Nouns referring to objects formed by two components or to referring to groups of components of the same kind: le forbici (scissors), i calzoni (trousers), le stoviglie (tableware), i viveri (food)…
- Many nouns coming from Latin: le nozze (wedding), le ferie (holidays)…
Now that you know the number in Italian, learn how to agree the adjectives!
If you haven’t fully understood how singular and plural in Italian work, don’t worry! Leave us a comment with your doubt, we will answer as soon as possible!