Forming Plural Nouns in Italian

Wine bottles in Val d'Orcia
Atlantide Phototravel / Getty Images

When you have just one bottiglia di vino (bottle of wine), especially from one of the many family-run vineyards in Tuscany, you’re doing pretty well. But, if you have several bottiglie di vino (bottles of wine), you're doing even better. Learning to speak fluent Italian requires that you understand the difference between singular and plural nouns. Turning singular nouns into plurals in Italian is a bit more difficult than in English.

Learn the rules, though, and soon you'll be able to turn one bottiglia into two or more bottiglie with ease.

Creating Plural Nouns in Italian

In Italian grammar, nouns must agree not only in gender (masculine or feminine) but also in number (singular and plural). To form the plural of Italian nouns, vowel endings change to indicate a change in number. For regular masculine nouns that end in -o, for example, the ending typically changes to -i in the plural:

Singular

Plural

English (Plural)

fratello

fratelli

brothers

libro

libri

books

nonno

nonni

grandparents

ragazzo

ragazzi

boys

vino

vini

wines

Plural Feminine Nouns Ending in "-A"

As noted, the ending of plural nouns needs to change to agree in gender. Regular feminine nouns that end in -a generally take an -e ending in the plural:

SingularPluralEnglish (Plural)
sorellasorellesisters
casacasehouses
pennapennepens
pizzapizzepizzas
ragazzaragazzegirls

Plural Nouns Ending in "-E"

Plural nouns that end in -e (feminine or masculine) generally end in -i in the plural form.

SingularPluralEnglish (Plural)
bicchierebicchieriwine glasses
chiavechiavikeys
fiumefiumirivers
frasefrasisentences
padrepadrifathers

Words of Foreign Origin

When forming plural of nouns ending in a consonant, such as words of foreign origin, only the article changes, as in these examples, where the singular is listed on the left together with the English translation and the plural is printed on the right:

  • Il film (the film) > i film (the films)

  • La photo (the photo) > le photo (the photos)

  • Il bar (the bar) > I bar (the bars)

Exceptions

It's also important to know the exceptions when forming plural nouns, including:

  • Feminine nouns ending in -ea change to -ee in the plural. For example: dea/dee (goddess/goddesses).

  • Words that end with a grave accent, such as la città, (the city), change only the final letter of the article, making the plural of this word, le città (the cities).

  • Feminine nouns ending in -ca change to -che in the plural, as in amica/amiche (friend/friends). 

For nouns ending in -e, the plural forms end in -i  regardless of whether they are masculine or feminine. Additionally, some nouns appear to be feminine (ending in -a) but are actually masculine, as in these examples:

  • Il poeta > i poeti / poet > poets

  • Il poema > i poemi / poem> poems

  • Il problema > i problemi / problem > problems

  • Il tema > i temi / topic > topics

  • Il braccio > le braccia / arm > arms

  • Il dito > le dita / finger > fingers

  • Il labbro > le labbra / lip > lips

  • Il ginocchio > le ginocchia / knee > knees

  • Il lenzuolo > le lenzuola / sheet > sheets

  • Il muro > I muri / wall > walls 

"The walls" would be le mura if you are talking about buildings, particularly historical buildings.