I am a beginner in Italian. I like to know how I can distinguish or determine the gender, masculine and feminine, of nouns. One indication is that if a word ends with an “a” like ragazza then we will say una ragazza but then why Italians say or write una lezione or una stazione?

Spiegatemi, per favore!


2 Answers 2


Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule for determining whether a noun is masculine or feminine.

Nouns ending in o are most frequently masculine and nouns ending in a are most frequently feminine. With exceptions:

la mano (feminine, hand)
il poeta (masculine, poet)

Nouns ending in e can be either masculine or feminine:

la lezione (lecture), la stazione (station), l'azione (action)
il colore (color), l'androne (entrance hall), il pallone (big ball)

The only way is to learn the gender together with the word.

  • 2
    I have come to know that nouns ending in zione are feminine as well. There has to be a rule. What do you say? Jul 16, 2016 at 23:35
  • @MuhammadMaqsoodurRehman Yes, that's correct
    – egreg
    Jul 17, 2016 at 7:38

When reading a text or listening to a conversation (that's the way I understand your question), your main source should be the article:

Il forte is masculine
La sfinge is feminine

Guesswork required with


and in such a situation the context is your only (not dependable) chance if you don't know the word.

iride is feminine ^^

  • Grazie for the link. :) Jul 17, 2016 at 21:07
  • Which article to use with a given name is a consequence of the name's gender, not its “source”. And if by it you mean this as a mnemonic trick, it's ok, but not better than learning famous sentences, poetry lines, songs, or at the very leasts adjectives agreeing with the noun, with the added advantage that they can solve “l'iride”-type ambiguities.
    – DaG
    Jul 17, 2016 at 21:36
  • The examples by op are quite clear: una ragazza, la stazione. Your best bet is the article. No mnemonic trick required at all. I agree with you that writing requires a different knowledge but the question looks aimed to understanding an existing context\sentence
    – Paolo
    Jul 17, 2016 at 21:50
  • The OP asks «why Italians say or write una lezione or una stazione?»: so, apparently, he knows that one says una stazione (as opposed to un or uno), but is not clear about why. The answer is, of course, “because stazione is a feminine noun”. I am confused about what your answer would be: «Italians say una stazione because the article is una»?
    – DaG
    Jul 18, 2016 at 9:32
  • please quote correctly: One indication is that if a word ends with an “a” like ragazza then we will say una ragazza but then why Italians say or write una lezione or una stazione?'. as you can read the question is not the one you insist on and with the complete quoting the answer could be: because lezione and stazione are feminine even if not ending in 'a' and the 'ending with a = feminine' is not a valid rule to identify feminine nouns in italian.
    – Paolo
    Jul 18, 2016 at 9:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.