Masculine and feminine

In Italian there are only two genders, masculine and feminine, and three nouns classes: O, A and E nouns, like gatto, casa and cane. Learn the Italian masculine and feminine, the three Italian noun classes and some exceptions like papa and foto.

Masculine and feminine in Italian

O and A nouns

The noun classes O and A are pretty straightforward: O nouns are masculine, like il libro or il gatto, A nouns are feminine, like la scuola or la casa.

Oil librobookmasculine
Ala scuolaschoolfeminine

Here you can find some sample words for masculine and feminine words ending with O and A:

O – MASCULINEA – FEMININE
il gattocatla lunamoon
il topomousela stellastar
il ragazzoboyla ragazzagirl
il nonnograndfatherla nonnagrandmother
il tavolotablela sediachair
l’alberotreela scuolaschool
il boscoforestla borsabag
il pomeriggioafternoonla seraevening
il vicino neighbor (man)la vicina neighbor (woman)

Exceptions

masculine nouns ending with A

If there is a rule, there are also exceptions… In fact there are a few A nouns that are masculine, like:

  • il problema problem
  • il turista tourist
  • l’autista driver
  • il papà dad
  • il papa pope

A dad and the pope are two very different people, so it’s important to distinguish them properly when speaking. Listen to the difference:

      
papà dad
      
papa pope

Feminine nouns ending with O

There are also O nouns that are feminine, like:

  • la mano hand
  • la foto photo
  • la moto motorcycle
  • l’auto car
  • la radio radio

Except for the first one, the others are abbreviations of words actually ending with A: la fotografia, la motocicletta, l’automobile, la radiofonia.

iconfinder Photography 1562697 1 - Masculine and feminine

E nouns

Besides O and A nouns, there are another noun class in Italian, that is the class of nouns ending with E. Unfortunately in this case you cannot tell if it is masculine or feminine just by looking at it! So you have to learn it by heart. In the following table you can find some useful words that end with E:

MASCULINEFEMININE
il padrefatherla madremother
il fioreflowerla volpefox
il canedogla carnemeat
il pescefishla nottenight
il solesunla tigretiger
il giornalenewspaperla lucelight
il lattemilkla soluzionesolution
il panebreadla pelleskin
l’animaleanimalla nevesnow
il bicchiereglassla naveship

There are also some words that end with a consonant (usually foreign words), like il bar or il film, and they are usually masculine.

Esercizio

1. Maschile e femminile

Impara di più!

Grammar: the definite article in Italian here
Vocabulary: Expressions with Essere and Avere here
Reading: Read a story in Italian here

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