The Italian plural is formed by changing the final vowel of each word according to these general rules:
La mamma → Le mamme
Mother → Mothers
Artist → Artists
|-e||-i||La lavatrice → Le lavatrici||Washing machine → Washing machines|
La crisi → Le crisi
|Crise → Crises|
|-o||-i||Il mondo → I mondi||World → Worlds|
|-u||-u||Le gru → La gru||Crane → Cranes|
Il foglio → I fogli
L'addio → Gli addii
Sheet → Sheets
Farewell → Farewells
We can highlight the following main categories of words according to their final vowel:
Masculine nouns ending in -a will form their plural with -i, feminine nouns change their ending from -a to -e.
|Masculine||Il poeta → I poeti||The poet → The poets|
|Feminine||La ragazza → Le ragazze||The girl → The girls|
In case -a is preceded by c or g, an h is added just before the new vowel -e.
|La formica → Le formiche||The ant → The ants|
|La riga → Le righe||The row → The rows|
|La domenica → Le domeniche||The Sunday → The Sundays|
A noun ending in -e changes its vowel to -i, regardless of its gender.
|Il fiore → I fiori||The flower → The flowers|
|La parete → Le pareti||The wall → The walls|
|Il colore → I colori||The colour → The colours|
This kind of nouns derives from foreign or ancient languages; the vowel ending remains unchanged when forming the plural.
|La crisi → Le crisi||The crisis → The crises|
|Lo gnu → Gli gnu||The gnu → The gnus|
|La metropoli → Le metropoli||The metropolis → The metropolises|
These nouns are identical in their singular and plural forms, and, therefore, the article is the only thing that distinguishes them.
These nouns are almost always masculine, thus normally change to -i when forming the plural.
|Il regalo → I regali||The present →The presents|
|Lo stereotipo → Gli stereotipi||The stereotype → The stereotypes|
|Il libro → I libri||The 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.
|Il sugo → I sughi||The sauce → The sauces|
|Il cuoco → I cuochi||The cook → The cooks|
|Il lago → I laghi||The lake → The lakes|
Note the following irregularities:
|L'amico → Gli amici||The friend → The friends|
|Il nemico → I nemici||The enemy → The enemies|
|Il greco → I greci||The Greek → The Greeks|
Nouns ending in -io simply drop the -o when forming their plural.
|Lo specchio → Gli specchi||The mirror → The mirrors|
|L'operaio → Gli operai||The worker → The workers|
|L'orologio → Gli orologi||The clock → The clocks|
If the i preceding -o is stressed, then it is necessary to add another i:
|Lo zio → Gli zii||The uncle → The uncles|
|L'addio → Gli addii||The farewell → The farewells|
|Il pendìo → I pendii||The slope → The slopes|
All the nouns in the table switched their gender according to number: they are masculine when singular, but their plural forms are feminine.
|Il braccio → Le braccia||The arm → The arms|
|Il ciglio → Le ciglia||The eyelash → The eyelashes|
|Il muro → Le mura||The wall (the city walls) → The walls|
|Il dito → Le dita||The finger → The fingers|
Irregular plurals may also involve completely different endings from their original form, as shown in the following examples:
|Il bue → I buoi||The ox → The oxen|
|Il Dio → Gli Dèi||The God → The Gods|
|L'uomo → Gli uomini||The man → The men|
|L'ala → Le ali||The wing → The wings|
|La serie → Le serie||The series → The series|
|L'osso → Le ossa||The bone → The bones|
Invariable nouns keep the same form in both singular and plural.
If the last letter is accented, singular and plural will be the same.
La verità → Le verità
La tribù → Le tribù
La città → Le città
|The truth → The truths
The tribe → The tribes
The city → The cities
Nouns with one sillabe don't change in their plural form.
Il re → I re
Il tè → I tè
|The king → The kings
The tea → The teas
If a noun is shortnened, the plural form is the same as the singular.
L'auto → Le auto
|The car → The cars
The motorbike → The motorbikes
Words from other languages don't change in the plural.
Lo sport → Gli sport
Il wurstel → I wurstel
|The sport → The sports
The sausage → The sausages
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.
|Il cemento||The cement|
|Il coraggio||The courage|
|La sete||The thirst|
|Gli occhiali||The glasses|
|I baffi||The moustache|
|Le forbici||The scissors|
When an object consists of two pieces, it is common to refer to it as paio (a pair).
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.
|Il gregge → I greggi||The flock|
|La folla → Le folle||The crowd|
Although they exist both in singular and plural, some nouns can be both collective or individual depending on the context.
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 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 Masculine||Singular Feminine||Plural Masculine||Plural Feminine|
|Il fronte (the front, the line)||La fronte (the forehead)||I fronti (the fronts, the lines)||Le fronti (the foreheads)|
|Sorta (sort)||Sorte (fate)||Sorti (fates)|
|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)|
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