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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!

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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.

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  • 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? – Muhammad Maqsoodur Rehman Jul 16 '16 at 23:35
  • @MuhammadMaqsoodurRehman Yes, that's correct – egreg Jul 17 '16 at 7:38
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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

l'iride

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

iride is feminine ^^

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  • Grazie for the link. :) – Muhammad Maqsoodur Rehman Jul 17 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 at 9:48

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