Thursday, 17 April 2014

'O' and 'A' Endings

My A-Z Challenge series is about Italy, it's lifestyle, the country and other miscellaneous things in regard to it.

Like several other languages Italian uses masculine and feminine to denote all nouns. Everything is either male or female. Most nouns, therefore end in either O or A including most names though there are exceptions. The word for home is la casa so this means it is feminine, perhaps from the idea from times past that it was a woman's job to keep the home for the family. The word for book is masculine, il libro. Plurals depend on the gender of the words, masculine O words end generally with I, feminine generally with E, so the previous words become le case and i libri.

People's names follow this rule do women's names could be Carmela, Francesca and Claudia, men's would be Carmelo, Francesco and Claudio. A couple of exceptions are Luca and Andrea, both men's names ending in A.

Verbs also take on gender, this is in regard to the noun or person it relates to. A lovely day is una bella giornata, so bella ends in A as the word 'day' is feminine, the clever brother is il fratello intelligente, note intelligente does not end in O.

People learning Italian often find the hardest part to get right is the verbs but also remembering the correct gender can be difficult. It can make a sentence mean something completely different by getting the last letter wrong, for instance you may say you want to go over there to to the bank to get some money but say il banco instead of la banca and people get confused thinking you are walking over to a bench to get it, is there some left on it by accident? To say close the door you say chiude la porta, but if you say chiude il porto you are then actually telling someone to close the harbour. Luckily Italians are very willing to let it go or gently correct you without embarrassing you, they are happy if you just try.


LittleCely said...

In Spanish we also have O and A endings for feminine and masculine words. In fact Italian and Spanish are very similar overall. Although I think that we do have some words where the roles are reversed. It might be masculine in Italian but will be feminine in Spanish.

Interesting post. As a Spanish teacher I find that the whole masculine/feminine thing confuses some people that don't have such a rule in their own language.

LittleCely's Blog

DayDreamer said...

That's interesting about the roles reversal, it must also be confusing for Italian/Spanish travelling between the two countries. When my daughter was learning Spanish at school she didn't want to learn Italian as it mixed her up, so she is now much better at Spanish.