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Singular to plural in Italian

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How to form the Italian plural

The Italian plural is formed by changing the final vowel of each word according to these general rules:

SingularPluralItalianEnglish
-a-e (feminine);
-i (masculine)

La mammaLe mamme
L'artista → Gli artisti 

Mother → Mothers

Artist → Artists

-e-iLa lavatrice  → Le lavatrici Washing machine → Washing machines
-i-i

La crisi → Le crisi

Crise → Crises
-o-iIl mondoI mondiWorld → Worlds
-u-uLe gruLa gruCrane → Cranes
-io-i; -iiIl foglioI fogli
L'addioGli addii

Sheet → Sheets

Farewell → Farewells

 

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Vowel changes in the Italian plural

We can highlight the following main categories of words according to their final vowel:

  • -a
  • -e
  • -i, u
  • -o

 

Nouns ending in -a

Masculine nouns ending in -a will form their plural with -i, feminine nouns change their ending from -a to -e.

 ItalianEnglish
MasculineIl poeta → I poetiThe poet → The poets
FeminineLa ragazza → Le ragazzeThe girl → The girls

 

Exceptions

In case -a is preceded by c or g, an h is added just before the new vowel -e.

ItalianEnglish
La formica → Le formicheThe ant → The ants
La riga → Le righeThe row → The rows
La domenica → Le domenicheThe Sunday → The Sundays

 

Nouns ending in -e

A noun ending in -e changes its vowel to -i, regardless of its gender.

ItalianEnglish
Il fiore → I fioriThe flower → The flowers
La pareteLe paretiThe wall → The walls
Il colore → I coloriThe colour → The colours


Nouns ending in -i and -u

This kind of nouns derives from foreign or ancient languages; the vowel ending remains unchanged when forming the plural.

ItalianEnglish
La crisi → Le crisiThe crisis → The crises
Lo gnu → Gli gnuThe gnu → The gnus
La metropoli → Le metropoliThe metropolis → The metropolises

enlightenedThese nouns are identical in their singular and plural forms, and, therefore, the article is the only thing that distinguishes them.


Nouns ending in -o

These nouns are almost always masculine, thus normally change to -i when forming the plural.

ItalianEnglish
Il regalo → I regali The present →The presents
Lo stereotipo → Gli stereotipiThe stereotype → The stereotypes
Il libro → I libriThe book → The books

 

When -o is preceded by c or g and the stress falls on the next-to-last syllable, an h has to be added between the consonant and the new vowel.

ItalianEnglish
Il sugo → I sughiThe sauce → The sauces
Il cuoco → I cuochiThe cook → The cooks 
Il lago → I laghiThe lake → The lakes

 

Exceptions

Note the following irregularities:

ItalianEnglish
L'amico → Gli amiciThe friend → The friends
Il nemico → I nemiciThe enemy → The enemies
Il greco → I greciThe Greek → The Greeks

 

Nouns ending in -io

Nouns ending in -io simply drop the -o when forming their plural.

ItalianEnglish
Lo specchio → Gli specchiThe mirror → The mirrors
L'operaio → Gli operaiThe worker → The workers
L'orologio → Gli orologiThe clock → The clocks


If the i preceding -o is stressed, then it is necessary to add another i:

ItalianEnglish
Lo zio → Gli ziiThe uncle → The uncles
L'addio → Gli addiiThe farewell → The farewells
Il pendìo → I pendiiThe slope → The slopes


Irregular Italian plurals

Gender changes 

All the nouns in the table switched their gender according to number: they are masculine when singular, but their plural forms are feminine.

ItalianEnglish
Il braccio → Le bracciaThe arm → The arms
Il ciglio → Le cigliaThe eyelash → The eyelashes
Il muro → Le muraThe wall (the city walls) → The walls
Il dito → Le ditaThe finger → The fingers

 

Different endings

Irregular plurals may also involve completely different endings from their original form, as shown in the following examples:

ItalianEnglish
Il bue → I buoiThe ox → The oxen
Il Dio → Gli DèiThe God → The Gods
L'uomo → Gli uominiThe man → The men
L'ala → Le aliThe wing → The wings
La serie → Le serieThe series → The series
L'osso → Le ossaThe bone → The bones

 

Invariable Italian nouns

Invariable nouns keep the same form in both singular and plural.

Nouns ending with an accented vowel

If the last letter is accented, singular and plural will be the same.

ItalianEnglish
La verità → Le verità
La tribù → Le tribù 
La città → Le città 
The truth →  The truths 
The tribe →  The tribes
The city →  The cities

Monosyllabic nouns

Nouns with one sillabe don't change in their plural form.

ItalianEnglish
Il re → I re 
Il tè → I tè 
The king → The kings
The tea → The teas

Shortened nouns

If a noun is shortnened, the plural form is the same as the singular.

ItalianEnglish

L'auto → Le auto 
La moto → le moto

The car → The cars
The motorbike → The motorbikes

 Non-adapted borrowings

Words from other languages don't change in the plural.

ItalianEnglish
Lo sport → Gli sport
Il wurstel → I wurstel
The sport → The sports
The sausage → The sausages

 

​Italian defective nouns (only singular/only plural)

Defective nouns don't have singular or plural.
They are mostly abstract nouns used only in singular, or nouns of collective elements only used in plural.

ItalianEnglish
Il cementoThe cement
Il coraggioThe courage
La seteThe thirst
Gli occhialiThe glasses
I baffiThe moustache
Le forbiciThe scissors

 

When an object consists of two pieces, it is common to refer to it as paio (a pair).

  • Un paio di forbici. (A pair of scissors)
  • Un paio di pantaloni. (A pair of trousers)

 

Italian individual and collective nouns

Most of the nouns in Italian are individual. This means they indicate only one element when grammatically singular.

Nevertheless, there are nouns that are collective: they indicate more than one element or a group when grammatically singular.

ItalianEnglish
Il gregge  I greggiThe flock
La follaLe folleThe crowd

Although they exist both in singular and plural, some nouns can be both collective or individual depending on the context.

  • La banda rossa dei pantaloni. (The red band of the trousers.)
  • La banda dei musicisti. (The group of musicians.)

 

Italian countable and uncountable nouns

The distinction between countable and uncountable nouns in Italian is the same as in English.
Since uncountables can't be counted, they don't have a plural, and to express the plural quantity we have to resort to other expressions:

Uncountable (1)Uncountable (more than 1)
Dammi il burro. (Give me the butter.)Dammi tre panetti di burro. (Give me three sticks of butter.)
Voglio dell'acqua. (I want some water.)Voglio due bicchieri/bottiglie d'acqua. (I want two glasses/bottles of water.)

 

Overabundant nouns (more than one singular or plural form) 

Overabundant nouns have more than one form for the plural and/or for the singular.
The meaning of the two terms is often related, but changes according to gender and number.

Let's see some examples

Singular MasculineSingular FemininePlural MasculinePlural Feminine
Il fronte (the front, the line)La fronte (the forehead)I fronti (the fronts, the lines)Le fronti (the foreheads)

SingularSingularPlural
Sorta (sort)Sorte (fate)Sorti (fates)

 

SingularPluralPlural
Il braccio (the arm, the branch)I bracci (branches)Le braccia (the arms)
Il ciglio (the edge, the eyelash)I cigli (the edges)Le ciglia (the eyelashes)
 

Exercises

  1. Exercise on plural nouns formation - Fill in the blanks
  2. Exercise on irregular Italian plurals (Invariable and defective nouns) - Single choice set
  3. Exercise on irregular Italian nouns (countable and uncountable nouns) - Drag and drop
  4. Exercise on irregular Italian plural (Gender changes and overabundant nouns) - Single choice set

Exercise on plural nouns formation - Fill in the blanks


Exercise on irregular Italian plurals (Invariable and defective nouns) - Single choice set


Exercise on irregular Italian nouns (countable and uncountable nouns) - Drag and drop


Exercise on irregular Italian plural (Gender changes and overabundant nouns) - Single choice set


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