5 Common Mistakes Made By Non-Native Speakers In Italian

Your teacher and Italian friends have pointed out the many Italian grammar mistakes you have made, but you persist in making them. Does this sound familiar to you? Here is a list of the top 5 common mistakes that you may make, despite the fact that you have already learned their rules. Here is the good news: I am going to show you how to avoid them.


1. Word gender


In Italian, nouns always have a gender (masculine or feminine). Even nouns not referring to people, rather to things, qualities or ideas, have a gender. You may find it crazy or nonsensical, but the point is that genders are not optional. I know that gender forms do not come naturally to most English, Japanese and Chinese speakers. However, even your simplest sentences will sound painful to hear if you ignore these gender rules.


Therefore, make sure you memorize the rules and understand them from the very beginning. Start learning the correct gender of each word as soon as you add it to your vocabulary.


Here you can find the rules explained. Or you can watch this video.

2. Plural


Sorry guys, but you cannot form a plural just by adding an “s” at the end of an Italian noun like in English and Spanish.



Here you can find the recap of the basic rules. Like every rule, this one also has its own exceptions. However, if you follow it, you can be sure to avoid mistakes in 90% of the cases.


3. Double consonants


Double consonants occur frequently in Italian words, and many people have difficulty in pronouncing them. Here is the rule: every time you see a consonant, say it! Double consonants need to be stressed; if you don’t, then you will pronounce a different word, and this can result in confusion during conversations.

Click here to listen to this YouTube video to understand the difference when you pronounce double consonants.


That should help to avoid asking for a pena (pain) instead of a penna (pen). It can even help you to avoid very embarrassing mistakes, like when you mispronounce anno (year) as ano(anus).



4. Subject pronouns


Io mangio, tu mangi, lui mangia…’ I got it, you know the conjugations of the verb. However, this will immediately identify you as a non-native Italian speaker. Why? This is because the use of subject pronouns (io, tu, lui, lei, noi, voi, loro) with the conjugated verb forms, is not necessary. Not only it is not necessary, but it is also considered redundant since the verb endings already identify both the person and the number.

5. Possessive adjectives


Possessive adjectives indicate who is doing the possession, they correspond to the English words “my,” “your,” “his,” “her,” “its,” “our,” and “their”.


This is the first main difference with English: the Italian possessive adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun possessed, not with the possessor.



la mia camicia (my shirt) – le mie camicie (my shirts)

il nostro amico (our friend) – i nostri amici (our friends)

il vostro vicino (your neighbour) – i vostri vicini (your neighbours)

il suo libro (his/her book) – i suoi libri (his/her books)


This is the second main difference with English: possessive adjectives (aggettivi possessivi)are usually compound forms which include a definite article that is not translated into English.


The table below provides a chart of possessive adjectives (aggettivi possessivi) in Italian:

Possess. Adjective Masculine Singular Feminine Singular Masculine Plural Feminine Plural Possess. Pronoun  
my il mio la mia i miei le mie mine
your (fam.) il tuo la tua i tuoi le tue yours
your (pol.) il Suo la Sua i Suoi le Sue yours
his, her , its il suo la sua i suoi le sue hers,his, its
our il nostro la nostra i nostri le nostre ours
your  il vostro la vostra i vostri le vostre yours
their il loro la loro i loro le loro theirs

Here you can find an exhaustive explanation about this topic, and few more rules regarding the possessive adjective with the family members.

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