Yes you can have a feminine form if you need to specify but not always, generally for domestic animals or bigger animals, not for insects fir example.
Cavalla is correct as -a desinence is the most common.
Sometimes you need to use -essa as il leone->la leonessa, l'elefante->l'elefantessa
Cane has a specific form cagna (beware it is also an insult especially for women)
Animals already with feminine gender cannot have a masculine one, just add maschio/femmina as an adjective. Una tigre maschio/femmina
What is the difference between "Le gatte sono le nostre" and "Le gatte sono nostre"? I understand there maybe a difference in the negative: "Le gatte non sono le nostre" implies we do have cats, but not these particular cats, while "Le gatte non sono nostre" simply mean these cats are not ours, and we may or may not have cats of our own. In this case, however, I really don't understand the difference.
Hi Strickster! I had the same exact question so I consulted "Essential Italian Grammar" by Olga Ragusa and this is what she had to say: "The definite article can be omitted when the possessive stands alone."
Di chi è questo libro? È mio [Whose book is this? It's mine]
Quel cane è nostro [That dog is ours]
In other words I get the feeling that both are correct since the possessive comes at the end: Le gatte sono le nostre (grammatically correct) Le gatte sono nostre (shorter, used more by native speakers, also correct)
Hope that helps!
Very appriciated, when to use the definitive article or not. I tried several times to either omit or add the definitive article according when standing at the end. It appears, one has to take attantion of the belonging. To stress it is our or not to stress. I got not excepted both ways, by either leaving it out or adding when the possesssive was at the end.
There's a slight difference indeed.
"Le gatte sono nostre" means that there are some female cats and they're ours, a rather neutral sentence with no particular emphasis.
"Le gatte sono le nostre" adds the article to emphasise some elements. Depending on how you stress the words you can have:
"LE GATTE sono le nostre" there are several cats, only the female ones are ours.
Or "le gatte sono LE NOSTRE" Of the several cats here the female cats are ours, not someone else's
You do sometimes add maschio/femmina (male/female) to an animal in Italian.
e.g., La tigre is 'the tiger' in Italian, and is a feminine noun.
As there is no word for a male tiger in Italian, you simply add maschio.
The fact that sometimes in Italian you do add 'male/female' to an animal, is probably why Duo doesn't accept your addition of "female".
FYI, you don't have to say "female cat" in English.
There are gender-specific words for many animals in English, besides the common gender-less one.
Duo seems to be unaware¹ that it could use the (English) gender specific words for cat:
- Il Gatto - The tomcat. (Male cat, singular)
- I gatti - The tomcats. (Male cats, plural)
- La gatta - The molly. (Female cat, singular)
- Le gatte - The mollies. (Female cats, plural)
You also have two other terms for female cats in English:
- Queen - a pregnant or nursing molly.
- Dam - a term reserved exclusively for rare or purebred female felines during the act of recording or maintaining ancestral records for cat breeding.
These are obviously not as commonly used as their equivalents in Italian,
as English is mainly a noun gender-less language, but they still are.
For other animals as well.
(e.g., cavalla - mare, cavallo - colt/stallion - puledro /stallone)
¹ Unaware, or decided that gender-specific words for animals are
not widely enough known, as courses in English might be taken
by many non native English speakers.
Male cat (singular -> plural) il gatto -> i gatti
Female cat (singular -> plural) la gatta -> le gatte
There are different word endings for male and female animals.
This has been answered here (above) by both me and others.
Might be worth while searching\reading previous comments when you have a question.
(Not complaining that you asked, but you'll get an answer sooner if you do.)