Number of italian nouns

For nouns, the number (whether the word is singular or plural) works exactly as in English: the singular form is used when referring to one subject and the plural form when referring to two or more. But in Italian also adjectives and articles are number-sensitive, whereas in English they are not: "the old house" in plural form becomes "the old houses", only the noun changes, while in Italian also the article and the adjective would be turned in plural form.

Number Inflections for Nouns: There are many rules to obtain the plural of italian nouns; but, generally, the plural is derived according to the following rules:

  • For regular masculine nouns that end in -o, the ending changes to -i in the plural. In the same way regular feminine nouns that end in -a take on -e endings in the plural. Examples:
For masculine nouns
Singular Plural English
fratello fratelli brothers
libro libri books
nonno nonni grandfather
ragazzo ragazzi boys
For masculine nouns
Singular Plural English
casa case houses
penna penne pens
pizza pizze pizzas
ragazza ragazze girls

The plural forms of some nouns end in -e will end in -i (regardless of whether these nouns are masculine or feminine).

Singular Plural English
bicchiere bicchieri (wine) glass
chiave chiavi keys
fiume fiumi rivers
frase frasi phrases

As a particular case, we have the words ending with co, ca, go, ga; these nouns and adjectives add an h to their plural form. Examples:

Singular Plural English
buco buchi holes
fico fichi figs
chirurgo chirurghi surgeons
mucca mucche cows

However, when the vowel that comes before co or go is i (i.e. ...ico, ...igo), in most cases the masculin plural drops the h, thus becoming ...-ci or ...-gi (English sound ...chyh or ...jyh). Examples:

Singular Plural English
amico amici friends
nemico nemici enemies
tecnico tecnici technical
comico comici comical - comedians

Nouns ending with an accented vowel or a consonant (such as words of foreign origin) do not change in the plural, nor do the abbreviated words.

Singular Plural English
caffè due caffè Two coffees
film due film Two films
foto due foto Two photos

In other cases the plural is a little difficult to recognize for a beginner; many times is recognized by external indicators, as articles, pronouns etc. Examples:

Singular Plural English
il tribù i tribù the tribes
la città le città the cities
l'analisi gli analisi the analyses

Note: Adjectives follow the same two patterns as nouns