The name or (substantive) sostantivo is the variable part of the speech that indicates a person, a thing, or animal.
Gender of the Nouns (Genere dei Nomi)
- As in the other modern Romance languages, the nouns in Italian are either of masculine or of feminine gender.
Usually, the nouns in -o are masculine and those in -a (-tà) are feminine, cf.:
Masculines in -o Feminines in -a (-tà)
· The words eco echo, mano hand and others are feminine.
- Many words ending in -a (mainly in -ta and -ma) are masculine; these are usually of Greek origin.
- The words in -tà ended formerly in -tate.
- There are a few feminine nouns, like spia spy, guàrdia guard etc., that refers usually to male persons.
The nouns in -e may be masculine or feminine. Those referring to males are masculine and those referring to females are feminine, cf.:
For the nouns that denote inanimate objects gender seems randomly assigned and it is to be memorized:
corte court, yard
Often the gender may be recognized by the suffixes.
Nouns ending in -tore / -sore (agent; often corresponding to E. -tor, -sor), -ore (abstract nouns; often corresponding to BE. -our), -ione (agent etc.; often = E. -ion), -one (augmentative = E. -on) etc. are masculine:
autore author, dittatore dictator;
colore colour, onore honor, orrore horror, sapore taste, umore mood, humour;
campione champion, ladrone brigand;
cannone cannon, milione million, padrone master, owner.
Nouns ending in -trice (agent), -tudine (corresponding to E. -tude), -zione (-sione) / -gione (corresponding to E. -tion (-sion) / -son), etc. are feminine:
altitudine height, magnitudine magnitude;
nazione nation, visione vision, ragione reason, stagione season.
Feminine of the Nouns (Femminile dei Nomi)
Feminine is often obtained from masculine by the alternation -o : -a in the endings, cf.:
bambino little boy
cugino cousin (he)
maestro master, teacher
bambina little girl
cugina cousin (she)
maestra teacher (female)
The alteration -e : -a also occurs, cf.:
padrone master, owner
padrona mistress of the house
Nouns of common gender (Nomi di genere comune)
These are nouns with one form for both genders. Here are included:
1. All the nouns suffixed by -ista, cf.:
pianista pianist turista tourist etc.
2. Some other nouns, like:
nipote nephew, niece
etc. These are nouns used in singular only. The most important between them are:
1. The proper names:
Giovanni John, Maria Mary, Roma Rome, Italia Italy etc.
2. Nouns, designating objects and phenomena unique in themselves, such as:
il sole sun
la luna moon
il sud south
il nord north
3. Nouns, designating substances, materials, products etc.:
il latte milk
il carbone coal
il frumento wheat The name or substantive ( sostantivo) can be also: - common name: it means a animal, a thing of generic meaning, for example: nice, horse,nephew,giraffe,zebra, etc.
Article By Elisa Bressan