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Learning to speak Italian: guide to gendered nouns

We were going to write some stuff on Italian men and women, but until we get around to doing that, we may as well examine the gendered nouns of the language.
For English speakers learning the Italian language, there are many hurdles to get over.

While Italian verbs are a mine field of complications, nouns also provide their own little tricky elements.

English is great – everything is neutral (which perhaps reflects something about our sex lives too), but in Italian as in other romance languages, you have to get used to the idea that a chair is female, but a cat is male.

So as a review: feminine singular article is “la”, plural is “le”.
Masculine singular is “il” and plural is “i” and then there is also “lo” and “gli”, but we’ll get to that another time.
While the rule is actually that the article and not the ending of the noun determines its gender, you can often look a the ending (”a” for feminine, “o” for masculine) to understand in which camp you’re standing.
But there are always exceptions to the rules and sometimes there are more exceptions to rules.

So what do you do? Learn by heart: it’s “la” radio, and “il” cinema.
The biggest problem is when the nouns choose to swap gender halfway through.
So you can have one masculine arm (il braccio) but two feminine ones (le braccia).
And the same goes for fingers, ears etc.
You gotta love learning Italian.

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