Adventures of Learning a Language – Part 6
1: a word that can be used to refer to a person or place or thing
2: a word that can serve as the subject or object of a verb
All languages were not created equally. Unlike English, every Italian noun has a gender. In other words, every noun is either masculine or feminine. This is the case for other languages as well such as French, Portuguese, German, and Spanish.
When you are not accustomed to matching a noun with a gender, it can at times be confusing. It is certainly not uncommon for me to “gender bend” nouns when I’m speaking Italian. There is no one way to learn nouns and their respective genders, however, with a little practice and some general rules of thumb you will begin to identify the gender of nouns with a bit more ease.
So, let’s have a look at some basic and helpful tips/reminders when it comes to identifying the gender of Italian nouns. Keep in mind, there are always exceptions to the rules and things will get a bit more detailed as you move forward, but this can be a good starting point.
Masculine nouns usually end in –o:
un ragazzo (a boy)
Feminine nouns usually end in –a:
una ragazza (a girl)
Also, nouns ending in –zione are always feminine:
una stazione (a station)
However, like I mentioned before, there are exceptions to the rules that you will just have to memorize:
un problema (a problem) is actually masculine
una radio (a radio) is actually feminine
un ristorante (a restaurant) is masculine
Your dictionary is one of the best tools you can have when it comes to identifying the gender of a noun. You will notice when you look up a noun your dictionary should mark whether the noun is masculine or feminine. So, when you aren’t sure, look it up!
treno nm (abbreviation for noun masculine) – train
bicicletta nf (abbreviation for noun feminine) – bicycle
Other Random Reminders
~ Days of the week and months are masculine with the exception of Sunday (la domenica), which is feminine.
~ Cars are always feminine: una Ferrari (a Ferrari)
~ City names are usually feminine: la bella Roma (beautiful Rome)
~ Bodies of water (lakes, rivers, seas) are usually masculine: il Mediterraneo (the Mediterranean)
With practice, identifying the gender of nouns will get easier and will involve less brainpower to figure out. To help you get to that point sooner it is really important to try and learn the gender of the noun when you are learning the word. If you use flashcards, be sure to include whether the noun is masculine or feminine. This will save you having to go back and relearn it later on.
Have you noticed any trends when it comes to the gender of Italian nouns? Do you have any tricks to remembering Italian nouns and their genders? If so, please share them!! 🙂
Check out my other “Adventures of Learning a Language”:
Adventures of Learning a Language – Part 5
Adventures of Learning a Language – Part 4
Adventures of Learning a Language – Part 3
Adventures of Learning a Language – Part 2
Adventures of Learning a Language – Part 1