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How Can You Make Nouns Plural in Italian?

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There is a concise set of rules for turning singular nouns into plural in Italian. In most cases you change the ending, but in a few cases the same form as the singular is used. There are also some plurals which are irregular. Let’s check those rules out along with the exceptions!

There is a concise set of rules for turning singular nouns into plural in Italian. In most cases you change the ending, but in a few cases the same form as the singular is used. There are also some plurals which are irregular. Let’s check those rules out along with the exceptions!

Rules for making nouns plural

Let’s start with singular nouns that make plurals by changing their ending vowel according to specific patterns.

Plurals formed by changing the ending vowel

TABLE A

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What we clearly see in the table is that all the groups, singular nouns ending in –o (m. and f.), singular nouns ending in –a (m.), and singular nouns ending in –e (m. and f.), change their ending vowel to –i, except for the feminine plural (-e).

This is true also for singular nouns ending in -ista, both feminine and masculine:

Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 11.26.42 AM

Further cases

However, there are nouns that don’t fit into the above cases. Luckily, they can still be grouped together according to the spelling rules they follow to form their plural:

TABLE B

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Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 12.48.45 PM

Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 12.49.04 PM

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Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 12.49.46 PM*The rule is the same even when the ‘i’ in -cia and -gia is stressed, as in la farmacia [the pharmacy] that becomes le farmacie [the pharmacies] in plural.

For an extensive list of nouns that fit into the above six groups, check out this table.

But what about those nouns that do not even fit into the above six groups?

Irregular plurals

Naturally, we couldn’t go without the irregular plural forms: but even in this case we can distinguish between those irregular nouns that keep the same root in both singular and plural forms, as in l’uovo [the egg] that maintains ‘uov’ as a root and changes the ending -o into -a for the plural (l’uovo → le uova [the egg → the eggs]); and a few nouns that don’t, and whose plural is quite different to the singular as in bue [ox] and buoi [oxen], for example.

Plurals which keep the same root as in the singular:

Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 11.38.38 AM

Nouns which change root in the plural:

Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 11.46.24 AM

For an extensive list of irregular nouns check out our table and this resource.

Now let’s get to the easiest part!

Nouns that do not change in the plural

Some nouns are the same in the plural as they are in the singular.

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You can see more examples of nouns that don’t change in the plural in our table. Also, if you want to see all the cases split by topic, this table will be useful.

 IMPORTANT:

To avoid confusion, it is important to mention a couple of points:

  • Some Italian nouns, called nomi sovrabbondanti [overabundant nouns], can have two different plurals, one masculine and one feminine, with two different meanings:

Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 11.55.42 AM

We provide you with the list of the most commonly used ones here.

  • Moreover, when comparing the Italian language to English, we notice how some words are plural in Italian but singular in English:

Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 11.56.50 AM

Instead, la gente [the people], a frequently used word, is singular in Italian, but plural in English.

Summary

In conclusion, making nouns plural in Italian is just a matter of vowels! We have seen that some nouns change their ending vowel according to specific patterns, others follow spelling rules, while some nouns are the same in the plural as in the singular. There are exceptions, but practice, along with our exercises, will do miracles! So... Let’s start! Buon lavoro! [Good work!]

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