Introduction to Italian Nouns and their gender

Different than the English language, Itlain has different grammatical concepts regarding nouns. All Italian nouns – not just people and animals – have a gender; they are either masculine or feminine.

Knowing the gender of nouns is important since it determines the form of the article ‘the’ or ‘a’ that you use with them and the form of the adjectives that describe them.

Nouns ending in -o are usually masculine:

un aperitivo an aperitif

uno spuntino a snack

Nouns ending in –a are usually feminine:

una birra a beer

un’aranciata an orangeade

Nouns ending in -e are not so easy:

-some are masculine and some are feminine.
-Where they relate to people, it is easy to guess their gender.

un padre a father (masculine)

una madre a mother (feminine)

But in other cases, you simply have to learn the gender of each noun rather than follow a rule. For example, liquore (liqueur) is masculine but lezione (lesson) is feminine.

Most words imported into Italian from other languages are masculine:

un caffè a coffee

un tè a tea

un toast a toasted sandwich

As for any rule, there are exceptions which you will meet later. If in doubt, a dictionary will tell you the gender of each word.

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