Masculine and feminine

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AGrant
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Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:55 pm

Masculine and feminine

Post by AGrant » Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:31 pm

I've started to learn Italian and I am trying to understand masculine and feminine nouns.

I know that most masculine nouns end in 'o' and form their plural by replacing the 'o' with an 'i', and that most feminine nouns end with the letter 'a' and form their plural by replacing the 'a' with the letter 'e'. (I know there are exceptions to this)

Moreover, the 'a' ending on a verb can indicate that he, she or it is doing an action. Likewise, the 'o' ending can indicate that I am doing the action.

Why does the word 'Italiano' in the following sentence not end in an 'a'?

Paolo è italiano, vero? Sì, è italiano.

Thanks in advance. I think I've just confused myself.

Dylan Thomas
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:08 pm

Re: Masculine and feminine

Post by Dylan Thomas » Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:21 pm

AGrant wrote:
Why does the word 'Italiano' in the following sentence not end in an 'a'?
Paolo è italiano, vero? Sì, è italiano.
Because "Paolo" is a masculine name.

"Paola/Giovanna/Marta [feminine names] è italiana".

DT

AGrant
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Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:55 pm

Re: Masculine and feminine

Post by AGrant » Fri Sep 30, 2016 7:07 am

Thanks for the reply. It is greatly appreciated.

Dylan Thomas
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:08 pm

Re: Masculine and feminine

Post by Dylan Thomas » Sat Oct 01, 2016 8:46 pm

You're very welcome.

I’d like to add something to the rule about the verbs ending in “a” or “o”.
I don’t think it’s correct to say that the “a” ending can indicate that he/she/it is doing an action.
For example:

1) Paolo gioca a calcio la domenica. [Paul plays football on Sundays.]
2) Caterina cena sempre con i suoi genitori. [Caterina always has dinner with her parents.]

3) Paolo sta giocando a calcio con gli amici. [Paolo is playing tennis with his friends.]
4) Caterina sta cenando con i suoi genitori. [Caterina is having dinner with her parents.]

1 and 2 are similar to the present simple used to express routine or habitual actions.

3 and 4 are similar to the present continuous. In Italian we use the present tense of the verb “stare” + gerund.

- Where’s Paolo?
- He’s over there. He’s playing football with his friends.
This means we see him playing. The action is being performed at the moment of speaking.

- Did you see Caterina?
- Yes, she’s in the dining room. She’s having dinner with her parents.
This means I’ve just seen her. I know she’s there.

Sometimes we can refer to something happening now in two ways,

(a) Guarda! Nevica.
(b) Guarda! Sta nevicando.

while in English it’s always: “Look! It’s snowing.”

I don’t know if there is a rule governing the above example. I think it’s just a matter of personal choice.


Let’s now see some examples with verbs ending in “o”.

(1) Guardo spesso la televisione la sera. [I often watch television in the evening.]
(2) Di solito leggo il giornale prima di andare a letto. [I usually read the paper before I go to bed.]

(3) Per favore, chiudi la porta. Sto guardando la televisione. [Do you mind closing the door? I’m watching TV.]
(4) Sto leggendo il giornale. Rispondi al telefono per favore. [I’m reading the paper. Answer the phone, please.]

Same rules as above.

I hope I haven’t confused you more.

DT

AGrant
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Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:55 pm

Re: Masculine and feminine

Post by AGrant » Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:03 pm

Thank you Dylan. I've had an Italian linguaphone course for many years and I am now determined to complete it. Everyday for the past month, I've studied Italian. I do however get confused about why the ending of a verb or adjective changes.

For example:
'Parla italiano lei?'
Why is italiano not spelt with an 'a'?

I understand that the response would be:

Sì, parlo italiano.
or
No, non parlo italiano.

I know that in the following sentence 'l'arte' is feminine and so italiano must take on its feminine form, italiana.

Io studio l'arte italiana.

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Voyager
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Re: Masculine and feminine

Post by Voyager » Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:53 pm

Hi AGrant

Dylan may have a better answer than me, as I'm still learning Italian too. But, to the best of my knowledge, a verb doesn't change the gender of the noun, it's the noun + the adjective who work together on this.

Parla is a verb (parlare), so that's not going to change the sentence, however 'l'arte italiana' is the noun + the adjective working together.

So when wondering about the gender, always think of noun+adjective = same gender.

As I say, perhaps there is a better rule than this one, but in general, I think this is how it works.

Grazie :)

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Voyager
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Re: Masculine and feminine

Post by Voyager » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:01 pm

Sorry, AGrant. I should have also said that it's the noun which first dictates the gender...

e.g.
La casa vecchia (f)
Il cappotto corto (m)
Lo zaino rosso (m)
Le gonne lunghe (f pl)
Gli ampi armadi (m pl)

:)

Dylan Thomas
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:08 pm

Re: Masculine and feminine

Post by Dylan Thomas » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:39 pm

Hi AGrant

Because “italiano, rumeno, tedesco” and many other nouns of nationality do not usually change when working together with some verbs like “parlare”, “studiare”, “capire” etc.

“I tuoi figli parlano italiano?” [Do your kids speak Italian?”]
“Mio padre parla perfettamente tedesco” [My father speaks perfect German.]
“Studia rumeno dal 2007” [She’s / He’s been studying Rumenian since 2007.]
“Mi spiace, non capisco l’italiano” [I’m sorry, I don’t understand Italian.]


But, as Voyager rightly pointed out in his/her (?) post, when noun and adjective work together, it is the former which dictates the gender:

“la lingua italiana” = feminine singular + feminine singular
“due ragazze tedesche” = feminine plural + feminine plural
“due ragazzi tedeschi” = masculine plural + masculine plural
“un formaggio italiano” = masculine singular + masculine singular

DT

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