Almost all the stresses are wrong, Elios. They are unpredictable; when I said "you should put it on the final letter" I meant the ACCENT, the GRAPHICAL ACCENT, not the stress. I want to make crystal clear that Italians never mark the stress if it isn't on the very last letter. I said I would mark them to let you know where they are, but if this causes confusion, then I will not. Instead, I'll write the pronunciation. In these exercises, don't mark the stress unless it is graphically marked with an accent.
Apart from this, the pronunciations were correct. I forgot to tell that it didn't matter about Zs - they were wrong, but it was my fault, their pronunciation is unpredictable.
Then, some friends made me notice how <s> is /z/ before voiced consonants, and /s/ when it begins the second word of a compound, typically those made of ri
+ another word (eg riserva
/ri'sεrva/). Add these rules to the ones I have already taught to you.
OK, I will now begin with some grammar. Today's topic will be nouns
Rather than sostantivi
, the proper word for "noun", the Italians use the word nomi
, "names". Nouns are divided into common and proper nouns - nomi comuni
and nomi propri
(notice that the adjective follows the noun: this will be the topic of our next lesson). Proper nouns are always capitalized, whilst common nouns are not, as in English.
Common nouns have a gender. It can be either masculine or feminine; we do not have a neuter gender, as Latin had. Some neuter pronouns exist, but they're used for specific purposes we'll talk about in the verbs lesson. The good news is that gender is almost always predictable: masculine nouns end in <o> (male = maschio
), feminine nouns end in <a> (female = femmina
). There are, of course, some exceptions; the most noticeable is mano
, meaning "hand", which is feminine. Italians make fun of foreign people saying il mano
= masculine article, we'll see this later), so don't make this mistake. Also, some - singular - nouns end in <e>; in this case most of them are masculine.
Why did I put that "- singular -" thing in there? Because nouns ending in <e> are usually feminine plural. Let's talk a bit about plurals.
-to form the plural of a masculine noun ending in <o>, remove it and add <i>.
-to form the plural of a feminine noun ending in <a>, remove it and add <e>.
-to form the plural of a feminine noun ending in <o>, remove it and add <i> (thus applying the normal rule for nouns ending in <o>).
-to form the plural of any noun ending in <e>, remove it and add <i>.
So, for example:
-gatto (m) → gatti
-casa (f) → case
-mano (f) → mani
-capitale (can be both; has a different meaning depending on its gender) → capitali (regardless of the gender)
Simple, isn't it? OK, let's add some difficulty.
Some very basic masculine nouns you'll use every day change their gender when they become plural
. These nouns form the plural removing the final <o> they always end with and adding <a>.
This is the case of uovo
(m, egg) → uova
(m, arm) → braccia
(m, finger) → dita
(f!). It is, of course, a terrible mistake to say "uovi", "bracci" and "diti" (these latter 2 can be used in some very specific cases, the first when referring to an old unit of measurement and the second where referring to more of a certain finger - ring, middle etc -, but we won't consider this hypothesis).
Ready for some more? Here it is:
Some nouns have two meanings, depending on their gender
Dont' worry too much for these - their gender is, most of the time, predictable. What you should remember is both meanings.
Caso (case) → casa (house)
Colpo (hit) → colpa (fault)
Busto (torso) → busta (envelope)
BUT ALSO the noun we said before: capitale. It has a single translation in English, too, that is "capital"; but, il capitale
(male) means the money, la capitale
means the city.
The lesson about genders and plurals is not yet complete.
I illustrated the very basics. Next lesson will be covering the remaining aspects, such as the exceptions (gender of words ending in accented vowels, plural of words in <cia>/<gia> and <io>...).
A noun in Italian is not complete without the article. Singular nouns carry it almost always; I don't seem to be able to define specific cases, but I'll search some on the web and post a link or an explication ASAP. In Italian, there are nine articles: six are definite, three are indefinite. The definite articles are divided in three singular and three plural articles; both groups are divided in two masculine and one feminine article. Here is the full table:
Code: Select all
Definite Articles - Articoli Determinativi
S il|lo |la
P i |gli|le
Indefinite Articles - Articoli Indeterminativi
OK, so there are two possible variations for each masculine article - definite singular, definite plural and indefinite. When to use each?
In general (definite articles):
-Use "il" when the noun begins with a consonant, unless the third of these rules says you have to use M2. Also, use "un" for nouns
-Use "lo" when it begins with a vowel. In this case, to avoid a vowel encounter, shorten it in <l'>, unless the vowel is a semi-consonantal I.
-Use "lo" also when the noun begins with Z, X (borrowed words only), impure S (that means S + another consonant), PS (the pronunciation /ps/ in this case is deprecated; it should be pronounced /sː/, but only Tuscan people do this as now), PN and GN.
The plural of "il" is "i", the plural of "lo" is "gli". These follow the rules of their singular "versions".
As for the indefinite articles, use "un" where you use "il", "uno" where you use "lo"; BUT always use "un" with nouns beginning with a vowel.
As for the feminine article, all I have to say is that <la> and <una> shorten to <l'> and <un'> when the following noun begins with a vowel, unless it is a semi-consonantal I. Notice how the rules applying to this latter are not applied to semi-consonantal U (so lo iato
/'jato/ but l'uomo
/wɔmo/). Also, notice that <le> does not
shorten in <l'>, though both <lo> and <la> do.
Choose whether to use a definite or and indefinite article according to what you'd use in English. If you don't put an article in English before a certain noun, in Italian you usually put it. The principle for choosing one or the other stays the same: definite articles for specific objects, a single object; indefinite articles for generic objects, any object of a kind.
OK, now, according to this lesson, pick the gender and number of these regular nouns (there is no singular noun in <e>), then write their singular if they're plural and vice-versa. Finally, place both the definite and indefinite article before the original noun I wrote.
rospo - penna - sveglie - telefoni - montagna - cassetto - nastri - armate - quadro - mostro