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IT- Irregular plurals of nouns in Italian


Something I find interesting in Italian is the irregular plurals of nouns. Let’s review regular plurals first:

  • masc. nouns in -o, -a => -i
  • fem. nouns in -a => -e
  • masc. & fem. nouns in -e => -i

These are obviously remnants of Latin declensions (-us => -i and -a => -ae), but it’s not the matter here. So we first have a few unpredictable ones:

  • il dio => gli dèi
  • l’uomo => gli uomini
  • il bue => i buoi
  • la mano => le mani
  • l’ala => le ali

I won’t talk about stuff like belga/belgi or medico/medici (should be -ghi and -chi to keep the hard sound), but I’ll rather jump to irregular masculine words with a feminine plural in -a. There are 3 sorts:

> Simple plural in -a

  • il centinaio => le centinaia
  • il paio => le paia
  • l’uovo => le uova
  • il dito =>le dita

> Double plural, reg. masc. in -i & irreg. fem. in -a

  • il ginocchio => le ginocchia / i ginocchi
  • il vestigio => le vestigia / i vestigi

> Double plural, like above, but with different meanings (!!!) (my favourite ones and the reason of this post) (yes this makes me happy) (this is cool): generally the fem. plural in -a is the literal meaning, and the masc. plural in -i is the figurative meaning (but sometimes it’s the opposite)

  • il membro => le membra (body limbs) / i membri (group members)
  • il braccio => le braccia (body’s) / i bracci (arm of a river, armchair)
  • il labbro = le labbra (lips) / i labbri (of a wound)
  • l’osso => le ossa (man’s bones) / gli ossi (animals’ bones)
  • il grido => le grida (man’s) / i gridi (animals)
  • il muro => le mura (city walls, defensive walls) / i muri (house walls)

Obviously this post is not exhaustive, and doesn’t cover ALL the irregular plurals in Italian, but rather the most common and important ones (and the coolest ones obv).


Listen. Kids can be annoying. You do not get any bonus points for disliking them. You used to be one of them; you have only survived to your current state of shitty, entitled quasi-adulthood and whiny, wholly unearned misanthropy because the people who were adults back during your physiological childhood (as a thing distinct from the prolonged emotional and intellectual childhood that characterizes theEw gross, kids! crowd) tolerated your tantrums and squeals and bullshit. Because enough of them behaved like adults to offset the fedoras and overgrown teenagers and Starbucks philosophers who were dumb enough to treat childhood like it’s a personality defect and not simply the first part of growing into an adult.

You did not become an (objectively lousy excuse for an) adult now by having the good taste and wise judgment to leave childhood, O Hater of the Young. You are not smarter than kids because you became an adult and they didn’t. You survived a certain number of years, your hormones did some shit, and you grew hair on your genitals. Congratulations on that having occurred for you before today’s little kids. It is your responsibility to ensure that this does not turn out to have been a bad thing. You can start by not holding childhood against children.