Nouns - A Guide To Learning The Basics of A New Language - Learn Italian

Learn Italian: A Guide To Learning The Basics of A New Language (2015)

Chapter 16. Nouns

Nouns are words used to identify or name people, places, things, animals, or ideas. Italian nouns have gender and number and their modifiers must change their forms to agree with the nouns they are modifying. Nouns can appear as a subject, object of a preposition, or object of a verb.


There are only two genders in the Italian language – the masculine and the feminine. One of the ways to identify the gender of a noun is by examing its ending.

1. As a general rule, in Italian, most nouns that end in –o are masculine.


Il museo

the museum

Il tavolo

the table

il libro

the book

il corpo

the body

il suono

the sound

il cielo

the sky

There are exceptions to this rule, however. Some nouns that end in –o are feminine:

la radio

the radio

la biro

the pen

la mano

the hand

The noun l'eco is feminine in the singular form but masculine in the plural from.

There are a few feminine nouns that end in –o due to the shortering done on the word and are thus considered feminine:

la foto from la fotografia

the picture

l'auto from the l'automobile

the car

la moto from la motocicletta

the motorbike

2. Majority of nouns that end in –a are feminine


la città

the city

la pizza

the pizza

la sedia

the chair

la penna


la finestra

the window


Nouns that end in –ma are all masculine.


il tema

the theme

il panorama

the panorama

il problema

the problem

il fantasma

the ghost

il clima

the climate

il cinema

the cinema

il programa

the program

Some proper nouns that end in –a like Nicola and Andrea are masculine.

Nouns that end in –cida and –ista as well as nouns ending in –a of Greek origin are either masculine or feminine depending on the context.














il colega


3. As a general rule, nouns that end in –e may be masculine or feminine


la luce

the light

il dente

the tooth

il bicchiere

the glass

la mente

the mind

la nube

the cloud

la nave

the ship

However, take note of the following rules:

All nouns that end in –ie are feminine


la specie

the kind

La superficie

the surface

Nouns that end in –ore are masculine.


il fattore

the farmer

il colore

the color

il motore

the engine

il autore


Nearly all nouns that end in –udine, -ite, -ione, -ice, and –igine are feminine.


la altitudine

the height

la lite

the quarrel

la visione

the vision

la nazione

the nation

la decisione

the decision

la pittrice

the painter


the origin

Most nouns that end in –ale, -ile, -ame, and –ere are masculine.


il giornale

the newspaper

il canile

the kennel

il canale

the channel

Il pollame

the poultry

Il rame

the copper

Il potere

the power

Il barile

the barrel

4. All nouns that end in -tù and -tà are feminine.


la servitú

the slavedom

la gioventù

the youth

la virtú

the virtue

la gioventù

the youth

la felicità

the happiness

5. Most nouns that end in –i are feminine


la sintesi

the synthesis


the analysis

la crisi

the crisis

However, nouns like il safari (the safari), il brindisi (the toast), and other less used nouns are masculine.

6. Nouns that end in a consonant are, in general, of foreign origin and are masculine.


lo sport

the sport

il toast

the toast

il bar

the bar

il film

the film

il computer

the computer

However, la star  (the star), la holding (the holding), and other less used nouns are feminine.

Gender of nouns may also be established by what the noun is representing.

1. Names of seas and lakes are masculine.


il Pacifico

the Pacific

il Tirreno

the Tyrrhenian

2. Sciences are feminine.


la biologia

the biology

la matematica

the math

3. Cities are feminine.


Roma è una città romantic.

Rome is a romantic city.

4. Names of chemical elements and metals are masculine.




il cesio




5. Names of trees are masculine in general.


il pero

the pear tree

Il melo

the apple tree

Il ciliegio

the cherry tre

However, some trees are feminine, including la palma (the palm tree), la vite (the grapevine), and la quercia (the oak tree).

Forming Feminine Nouns

Nouns that refer to a man are masculine while nouns that refer to a woman are feminine nouns. The same is true with the gender of animals. In general, a noun’s basic form is masculine and it has to be changed into a feminine form whenever it is used to refer to a female animated beings.

Some nouns form the feminine by changing the noun ending of the masculine form while some nouns have a completely different feminine form. In addition, there are nouns that never change regardless of the gender.

Forming the feminine by varying the ending

For nouns that end in –o, the feminine is formed by replacing the –o with –a.


il gatto (male cat)

la gatta (female cat)

il amico (male friend)

la amica (female friend)

il figlio (son)

la figlia(daughter)

il zio (uncle)

la zia (aunt)

il bambino (little boy)

la bambina (little girl)

For masculine nouns ending in –a, the feminine noun is formed by replacing –a with



il duca (duke)

la duchessa (duchess)

il poeta (male poet)

la poetessa (female poet)

Masculine nouns that end in –e are changed into the feminine form by either replacing the ending with –a or dropping the –e ending and adding the suffix –essa.


il signore (mister)

la signora (mistress)

il principe (prince)

la principessa (the princess)

il cassiere (male cashier)

la cassiera (female cashier)

il padrone (master)

la padrona (house mistress)

Most nouns that end in –tore form their feminine by replacing the suffix tore with -trice while some nouns replace the suffix with –tora.


il direttore (director)

la direttrice (the directress)

Il pastore (shepherd)

la pastora (shepherdress)

il pattore (male painter)

la pittrice (female painter)

Nouns with totally different masculine and feminine forms

Some nouns derive their masculine and feminine gender forms from different roots and differ in form:


il fratello (brother)

la sorella (sister)

il padrino (godfather)

la madrina (godmother)

el re (king)

la regina (queen)

il marito (husband)

la moglie (wife)

il maschio (male)

la femmina (female)

il padre (father)

la madre (mother)

il frate (friar)

la suora (nun)

il uomo (man)

la donna (woman)

il cane (dog)

la cagna (bitch)

Nouns with the same masculine and feminine form or Epicene Gender

Some nouns have one form to indicate masculine or feminine gender and are modified by the words maschio and femmina to mark the gender:


la cicogna maschio

the male stork

la cicogna femmina

the female stork

l'acquila maschio

the male eagle

l'acquila femmina

the female eagle

la volpe mascchio

the male fox

la volpe femmina

the female fox

il serpent maschio

the male snake

la serpent femmina

the female snake