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1.6. Masculine and feminine

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Casa, gatto, fiore, foto… are these words masculine or feminine? How can you tell? Let’s discover it together!


Masculine or feminine?

In Italian, words are either masculine or feminine. But how can you tell? Try to use your intuition! In your opinion, are the following words masculine or feminine?

Fai un esercizio!

Did you get a good guess on the berretto cap and sciarpa scarf? In Italian, words ending with -o are usually masculine, while those ending with -a are usually feminine.
But what about words that end with -e, like neve snow? Well, those words are the ones you doubt most, because they can be both masculine and feminine! In this case neve feminine.


Masculine and feminine

As we have already mentioned, in Italian there are only two genders, masculine and feminine, and you can usually tell the gender by the ending of the word:

-oil libro the bookMasculine
-a la scuola the schoolFeminine

A few sample words with nouns on -o (male) and on -a (female):

-o Maskulin-a Feminin
      
il gatto the cat
      
la gatta the cat
      
l’amico the (male) friend
      
l’amica the (female) friend
      
il nonno the grandfather
      
la nonna the grandmother
      
il tavolo the table
      
la pioggia the rain
      
l’albero the tree
      
la regina the queen
      
il berretto the cap
      
la sciarpa the scarf

Exceptions

There are a few exceptions with -a which are masculine, like il problema (m.) the problem, il turista (m.) the tourist, il poeta (m.) the poet, il papà (m.) dad, father, il papa (m.) the pope.

PAPÀ E PAPA

Listen to the difference between papà and papa:

      
papà dad, father
      
papa pope

Some words on -o are masculine, like la foto (f.) the photo, la moto (f.) the motorcycle, l’auto (f.) the car, la radio (f.) the radio. This is because they are abbreviations: la fotografia, la motocicletta, l’automobile, la radiofonia. Another exception is la mano (f.) the hand.

Let’s take a picture!

Words ending with -e

Only with -e you can unfortunately not tell if it is masculine or feminine! Here are a few useful words for you that end with -e:

MaskulinFeminin
      
il padre the father
      
la madre the mother
      
il fiore the flower
      
la carne the meat
      
il cane the dog
      
la volpe the fox
      
il sole the sun
      
la tigre the tiger
      
il giornale the newspaper
      
la luce the light
      
il latte the milk
      
la soluzione the solution
      
il pane the bread
      
la pelle the skin
      
l’animale the animal
      
la neve the snow
      
l’abete the fir tree
      
la nave the ship

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

Esercizi

Fai un esercizio!


Impara con Kira e Cody

dal calendario 2019

-o = masculine

Cody: "Nouns ending with -o are usually masculine"
il ragno spider
il bambino kid, boy
il gatto cat
il gomitolo ball of wool
-a = feminine

Kira: "Nouns ending with -a are usually feminine"
la renna reindeer
la sciarpa scarf
la bambina kid, girl
la capra goat
la palla ball
-e = masculine / feminine

Cody: "Nouns ending with -e are masculine or feminine"
il serpente (m.) snake
il giornale (m.) newspaper 
la volpe (f.) fox
la neve (f.) snow
-i, -u, -consonante = masculine, feminine

Kira: "Nouns with other endings are masculine or feminine"
Pallino: "I love this movie!"
l'oasi (f.) oasis
il menu (m.) menu
il film (m.) film
The fox Bianca and the tomcat Pallino play with the ball.
But the ball goes under the sofa. 
"Oh no! What do we do?"
They are very sad.
"No problem," says the spider.
It takes the ball with its spider web.
"Thanks very much!"
Now Bianca and Pallino are happy again.

Substantive:
la volpe (f.) fox (or vixen)
il gatto (m.) cat
la palla (m.) ball
il divano (m.) sofa
il problema (m.) problem [Exception: Ends with -a, but masculine!]
il ragno (m.) spider 
la ragnatela (f.) spider's web

Prossima lezione: The definite and indefinite article

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