Formation of Italian Plural Nouns Ending in -O

Formazione del Plurale: Nomi in -O

Making nouns ending in O plural
Camilla Bandeira

Italian singular nouns that end in -o form the plural by changing the ending to -i:

  • bambino—bambini
  • impiegato—impiegati
  • sasso—sassi
  • coltello—coltelli

The plural of the noun uomo is also formed with -i, but with a change in the ending: uomini. Of the few female nouns that end in -o, some remain unchanged in the plural; mano usually becomes mani; eco, which in the singular is feminine, is always masculine in the plural: gli echi.

  • Nouns in -co and -go do not follow a consistent behavior in forming the plural. If there is a pattern to speak of, the nouns maintain the velar consonants /k/ and /g/, and end in -chi and -ghi. However, if the nouns are sdruccioli (stressed on the third-to-last syllable of a word), instead, drop the velar consonants /k/ and /g/ and add the palatal sounds -ci and -gi:

  • baco—bachi
  • cuoco—cuochi
  • fungo—funghi
  • albergo—alberghi
  • medico—medici
  • sindaco—sindaci
  • teologo—teologi
  • ornitologo—ornitologi

Among nouns that behave differently from the conventional pattern are:

  • nemico—nemici
  • amico—amici
  • greco—greci
  • porco—porci

Among nouns that are pronounced with the stress on the third-to-last syllable, there are many more exceptions:

  • carico—carichi
  • incarico—incarichi
  • abbaco—abbachi
  • valico—valichi
  • pizzico—pizzichi
  • strascico—strascichi
  • dialogo—dialoghi
  • catalogo—cataloghi
  • obbligo—obblighi
  • prologo—prologhi
  • epilogo—epiloghi
  • profugo—profughi

    Finally, some nouns have both forms:

    • chirurgo—chirugi, chirurghi
    • farmaco—farmaci, farmachi
    • manico—manici, manichi
    • stomaco—stomaci, stomachi
    • sarcofago—sarcofagi, sarcofaghi
    • intonaco—intonaci, intonachi

    Nouns ending in -ìo (with a stressed i) form regular plurals ending in -ìi:

    • zìo—zìi
    • pendìo—pendìi
    • rinvìo—rinvìi
    • mormorìo—mormorìi

    NOTE: dìo becomes dèi in the plural.

    • Nouns ending in -ìo (with an unstressed i) lose the i of the stem in the plural, therefore ending in -i:

    • viaggio—viaggi
    • figlio—figli
    • coccio—cocci
    • raggio—raggi
    • bacio—baci
    • giglio—gigli

    NOTE: tempio becomes templi in the plural.

    Some nouns that end in -io in the singular, in the plural may be confused with other plurals of the same spelling; to avoid ambiguity are sometimes used, such as an accent on the stressed syllable, a circumflex accent on the ending, or on the final double i:

    • osservatorio—osservatori, osservatòri, osservatorî, osservatorii
    • osservatore—osservatori, osservatóri
    • principio—principi, princìpi, principî, principii
    • principe—principi, prìncipi
    • arbitrio—arbitri, arbìtri, arbitrî, arbitrii
    • arbitro—arbitri, àrbitri
    • assassinio—assassini, assassinî, assassinii
    • assassino—assassini
    • omicidio—omicidi, omicidî, omicidii
    • omicida—omicidi

    Today the tendency is to write a single i without diacritical marks: the general meaning of the sentence usually resolves any doubt.

    Some nouns ending in -o, which in the singular are masculine, in the plural become feminine grammatical gender and take the ending -a:

    • il centinaio—le centinaia
    • il migliaio—le migliaia
    • il miglio—le miglia
    • il paio—le paia
    • l'uovo—le uova
    • il riso (il ridere)—le risa

    The table below summarizes the formation of the plural for Italian nouns ending in -o:

    Plurale dei Nomi in -O

     

    SINGOLARE

    PLURALE

     

     

    maschile

    femminile

    -o

    -i

    -i

    -co, -go (parole piane)

    -chi, -ghi

     

    -co, -go (parole sdruccioli)

    -ci, -gì

     

    -io (stressed i)

    -ìi

     

    -io (unstressed i)

    -i