Posted on by Ulrike Rettig

10 Easy Rules to Help Your Italian

Know the Rules - for Italian Learning Italian? When you get into a conversation with Italians, you have little time to think about the many particularities of the language: noun gender, different types of articles, prepositions, etc.

Here are ten easy rules that you can become aware of when reading, listening, or writing Italian. With time, you'll start recognizing items or patterns that follow these rules and they'll become automatic even when you speak.

These rules cover just a few Italian grammar points, but they're a start and easy to remember. You can used them to build on.

1. Nouns ending in -o are normally masculine.

• il ragazzo (the boy)
• il libro (the book)
• l'albero (the tree)

Notable Exceptions: Feminine nouns ending in -o
• la mano (the hand)
• la foto (the photo)
• la radio (the radio), l’auto

2. Regular masculine nouns that end in -o change their ending to -i in the plural.

• i ragazzi (the boys)
• i libri (the books)
• i cavalli (the horses)

3. Nouns ending in -a are normally feminine.

• la ragazza (the girl)
• la scuola (the school)
• la casa (the house)
Notable Exceptions: Masculine nouns ending in -a
• il problema (the problem)
• il cinema (the movie theater)
• il programma (the program)

4. Regular feminine nouns that end in -a change their ending to -e in the plural.

• le ragazze (the girls)
• le scuole (the schools)
• le idee (the ideas)

5. Instead of il, the definite article lo (the) goes before masculine singular nouns beginning with z, s+consonant, ps, gn.

• lo zio (the uncle)
• lo studio (the study)
• lo psicologo (the psychologist)

Note: Feminine nouns starting with z, s+consonant, ps, gn, have the definite article "la".
• la zia (the aunt)
• la strada (the street)
• la psicologa (the psychologist, f)

6. The definite article gli is the plural form of lo, instead of the masculine plural i.

• gli zii - the uncles
• gli studi - the studies
• gli psicologi - the psychologists

7. The definite article is used with possessive adjectives, except with singular nouns denoting family members.

• il mio libro (my book)
• la tua amica (your friend, f)
• i miei amici (my friends)
• le tue case (your houses)

• mio padre (my father)
• tua madre (your mother)
• mio zio (my uncle)

Note: With plural family members, you use the definite article:
• i miei parenti (my parents)
• le tue zie (your aunts)

8. To make a sentence negative, put non before the verbal expression (incl. object pronouns).

• Non voglio mangiare. (I don’t want to eat.)
• Non ho finito. (I haven’t finished.)
• Non lo conosco. (I don’t know him.)

9. The preposition in (to/in) is normally used with continents, countries, regions, and large islands.

• in Africa  (to Africa/in Africa)
• in Francia (to France/in France)
• in Toscana (to Tuscany/in Tuscany)
• in Sardegna (to Sardinia/in Sardinia)

10. The preposition a (to/in) is normally used with cities and small islands.

• a Roma (to Rome/in Rome)
• a Capri (to Capri/in Capri)