I. Gender and form of Italian nouns and adjectives

 

  1. Gender and form of Italian nouns and adjectives

Every Italian noun is either masculine or feminine in gender; there are no neuter nouns. If the thing referred to has biological gender, then the grammatical gender of the noun will generally be the same as the biological gender. But even nouns referring to inanimate objects have grammatical gender, and there is generally no “logical” reason to account for such a noun’s being of one gender rather than the other. That is simply a fact of the language.

  1. Most nouns that end in –oin the singular are masculine. Their plural ends in –i (momentomomenti).
  2. Most nouns that end in –ain the singular are feminine. Their plural ends in –e (rosarose).
  3. There are some nouns which end in –ein the singular; some of these are masculine while others are feminine: padre (“father”), madre(“mother”). Their plural ends in –i (padri, madri).

In Italian every adjective agrees in gender and in number with the noun it modifies. Some adjectives have four distinctive forms (with endings like those of the nouns in groups 1 and 2, above):

un ragazzo italiano                 due (2) ragazzi italiani

una ragazza italiana                due ragazze italiane

Other adjectives have only two distinctive forms, one singular and one plural:

un ragazzo OR una ragazza  → francese

due ragazzi OR due ragazze → francesi

Adjectives will normally be listed under their masculine singular forms (in the remainder of this book and elsewhere).

 

 

Last revised on October 5, 2017.

II. Indefinite and definite articles

  1. Indefinite and definite articles

Indefinite articles

The indefinite article (=English “a” or “an”) has the following forms in Italian:

Masculine                                            Feminine

un (default masculine form)                 una (default feminine form)

uno (before z or s+consonant1)             un’ (before a vowel2)

 

Definite articles

The definite article (=English “the”) has the following forms in Italian:

Singular Plural Singular Plural
default form                   il i Before cons.            la le
Before z or s+cons)       lo gli Before vowel           l’ le/l’
Before vowel                 l’ gli/gl’

*gli may become gl’ before a word beginning with i.

NOTE: Although the gender and number of the definite article are determined by the gender and number of the noun it modifies, the precise form to be used is determined by whatever word immediately follows the definite article: il signore but l’altro signore and lo stesso signore (stesso = “same”) l’amica but la stessa amica.

This applies to any consonant after s (sp; st; sb, sc)

This applies to any vowel.

 

 

Last revised on October 5, 2017.

III. Present tense of avere

III. Present tense of avere

Learn to recite this verb by heart.

ho             I have

hai             you have

ha              he (she, it, one) has, you have (polite singular form)

abbiamo     we have

avete          you have

hanno        they have, you have (polite plural form)

VOCABULARY A

parcheggio
parking lot
canto
song, singing
che cosa
what
cioè 
that is
con
with
giovanotto
young man
lavoro
work
*molto
(adv.) very
*questo
this
parola
word
*spesso
often
*tutto
all

NOTE: The definite article is used far more in Italian than in English. For smooth translation, it can often be omitted in the English (ex. Studio la matematica. = I study mathematics.)

VOCABULARY B

buono
good
cinquanta
fifty
circa
about, approximately
della (=di+la)
of the
due
two
fiammifero
match
fratello
brother
poco
few, little
primo
first
quattro
four
sorella
sister
storia
story, history
tre
three
vero
true

 

 

Last revised on October 5, 2017.

IV. Contractions

  1. Contractions + Combinations

You have already seen that several common prepositions combine with the definite article to form one word. Examine the following combinations of a (to, at) with the definite article. (Cf. section VII, page 14, for forms of the definite article.)

al = a + il                               ai = a + i

allo = a + lo                          agli = a + gli

all’ = a + l’                            alle = a + le

alla = a + la

The prepositions dadiin, and su combine with the various forms of the definite article in much the same way as a does. Study the following table:

il i lo gli la le l’
a(to, at)

 

da(from)

di(of)

in(in)

su(on)

con(with)

al

 

dal

del

nel

sul

col

ai

 

dai

dei

nei

sui

coi

allo

 

dallo

dello

nello

sullo

(collo)

agli

 

dagli

degli

negli

sugli

(cogli)

 

alla

dalla

della

nella

sulla

(colla)

alle

 

dalle

delle

nelle

sulle

(colle)

all’

 

dall’

dell’

nell’

sull’

(coll’)

All but the first two contracted forms of con (with) are now rare. In older texts, per (for, through) may be found in contracted forms (pelpei, etc.), but it is not used in this way in modern Italian.

VOCABULARY

*amico
friend
*anima 
soul
cieco
blind
*come
like, as, how
*opera
work; opera
ospedale (m.) 
hospital
proprio
one’s own (here: his own)
scaffale (m.)
shelf
speranza
hope
*tavola
table
*uomo(pl.,uomini)
man

 

Last revised on March 19, 2018.