I got through two Italian lessons last night: numeri cardinali da 1 a 10 (the counting numbers, 1-10), which was the easiest of the lessons I’ve done so far. I also got through singolare e plurale: nomi e verbi nel presente, presente forma progressiva (singular and plural nouns and verbs, present tense). This turned out to be the toughest of the lessons I have learned thus far.
It seems as though Italian (like Spanish) has different forms of nouns when those nouns are plural, and combine those nouns with the masculine and feminine versions and you’ve got four combinations. What’s different from Spanish (and English) is that the plural form does not end in “s”, which takes some getting used to. (I recall Hebrew being like this, with the plural form of the noun ending in the -om sound.) From what I have been able to infer, the masculine plural tends to end in an “i” sound (“i bambini”) and the feminine form tends to end in “e” (“le bambine”). In some cases, the article changes and I haven’t figured out the pattern yet. For instance, whereas “the boys” is “i bambini”, “the eyes” is “gli occhi”. “Gli” is not the easiest thing to pronounce, even when you hear it repeated 20 times.
And then there are the plural form of the present tense verbs (“stanno”), which combines with the plural forms of the nouns described above.
All of this, mind you, is inferred, as there is no explanation as part of the software. This, I think, is the trick of learning the language. Rather than having a teacher explain the mechanics to you, you just have to figure it out yourself, piecing it together as best you can. But after a while, the patterns start to make sense, even if you don’t know why.
I also learned that prepositions also change form with the singular or plural, something that I don’t think happens in either English or Spanish and it means yet a third form that you must be aware of.
Tonight, I’ll be going through lessons 6-7, which I think deal with more on plural verb forms and also simple question and answer forms.