plural-in-italian

Making Nouns Plural in Italian: A Simple Guide

One of the biggest basic rules in the Italian language is learning how to make nouns plural in Italian.

That might seem to be daunting, especially if you’re a beginner learner, but believe me, it’s not.

There’s actually a concise set of rules for turning singular nouns to plural nouns.

Let’s check those rules out!

Contents

Understanding Italian Nouns

An Italian noun can be either masculine or feminine, depending on the item it identifies. We know which gender the noun is by its ending:

  • Masculine nouns usually end in –o. 
  • Feminine nouns usually end in –a.

A noun’s ending changes when it goes from singular to plural.

So, with a quick look at the way a noun ends, we know whether it’s masculine, feminine, singular or plural.

The rules for making those singular nouns plural are—trust me—very uncomplicated. Here’s a quick guide:

Gender
Singular EndingPlural EndingExample
Masculine -o -i l'albero gli alberi
Feminine -a -e la donna le donne

Let’s go into more detail below:

Feminine Nouns

Feminine nouns end in –a.

To make a singular feminine noun plural:

  • Drop the –a and insert a –e instead.
  • Change the la  (the) to le  (the).

Let’s see how that works:

La strada (The street) → Le strade  (The streets)

La strada è pulita. (The street is clean.)

Le strade sono pulite. (The streets are clean.)

Notice that pulita (clean) also changes to agree with the noun becoming plural. It becomes pulite  (clean), its plural feminine form.

A few more examples of common feminine nouns:

SingularPlural
La forma (The shape) Le forme (The shapes)
La cosa (The thing) Le cose (The things)
La chiesa (The church) Le chiese (The churches)
La mela (The apple) Le mele (The apples)
La scarpa (The shoe) Le scarpe (The shoes)

Masculine Nouns

Masculine nouns end in –o.

Here’s how masculine nouns change from singular to plural:

  • Their vowel endings become –i.
  • Il (the) becomes i (the) when the noun becomes plural.

For example:

Il libro (The book) → I libri (The books)

Il libro è sulla sedia. (The book is on the chair.)

I libri sono sulla sedia. (The books are on the chair.)

Some examples of common masculine nouns:

SingularPlural
Il conto (The bill) I conti (The bills)
Il testo (The text) I testi (The texts)
Il gruppo (The group) I gruppi (The groups)
Il treno (The train) I treni (The trains)
Il letto (The bed) I letti (The beds)

Exceptions

The rules above work for most nouns, but there are some exceptions:

Singular EndingGenderPlural Ending
-go Masculine -ghi
-ga Feminine -ghe
-co Masculine -ci
-ca Feminine -che

Let’s look at some examples below:

Nouns Ending in –go and –ga

Nouns that end in –go change to –ghi.

When a singular masculine noun ends in –go it takes on –ghi when it becomes plural:

Il lago (The lake) → I laghi  (The lakes)

Il lago è grande. (The lake is big.)

I laghi sono grandi. (The lakes are big.)

Nouns that end in –ga change to –ghe.

When a singular feminine noun ends in –ga it takes on –ghe in its plural state:

La strega (The witch) → Le streghe  (The witches)

La strega è alta e magra. (The witch is tall and thin.)

Le streghe sono alte e magre. (The witches are tall and thin.)

Nouns ending in –co and –ca

Nouns that end in –co change to –ci.

When a singular masculine noun ends in –co it takes on –ci when it becomes plural:

l’amico (the friend) → gli amici  (the friends)

L’amico è divertente. (The friend is funny.)

Gli amici sono divertenti. (The friends are funny.)

Nouns that end in –ca change to –che.

When a singular feminine noun ends in –ca it takes on –che in its plural state.

la amica (the friend) → le amiche  (The friends)

La mia amica è dolce. (My friend is sweet.)

Le mie amiche sono dolci. (My friends are sweet.)

Practice Resources 

The core grammar rules regarding taking Italian nouns from the singular to plural form have been discussed in this post. They really are pretty standard and once you use them a few times you’ll hardly even think about why you change a noun’s ending. You’ll just do it automatically!

However, like any component of language learning, practice is essential. Fortunately, there are some excellent practice resources that can help you solidify this one grammar topic with little effort—and, believe it or not, a lot of fun!

Italy Heritage

plural-in-italian

Italy Heritage provides a fun, quick-paced fillin selftest that’s a super way to practice turning Italian nouns from singular to plural.

The words are random—masculine, feminine and even rule exceptions all appear. This is a nice way to get some extra vocabulary practice in and add to an existing vocabulary list!

Learners are given the option of either having the solutions hidden or in view. A good tip is to fill in the ones you’re confident about with the solutions hidden. Then, if necessary, check the solution list to learn the more difficult noun changes.

Lo Studio Italianoplural-in-italian

These interactive exercises are a solid way to practice changing Italian nouns from singular to plural.

The answers are available immediately so you can check your work. Also, this site includes the exceptions to the basic rules so it’s worth checking out to get exposure to those nouns.

“Italian Plural Nouns and Their Exceptions”

This engaging, informative video covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Review the rules with this fast lesson!

Get ready to be entertained. Professor Dave teaches with flair! Also, the video uses colorful graphics that make this subject very clear.

 

In every language—including Italian—some grammar topics can be intimidating, but this one isn’t one of those.

Turning nouns from singular to plural in Italian is a snap with these straightforward rules.

Memorize the rules and put in some practice time to get this grammar topic under your belt! 

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