Why and how did Italian lose the final s consonant in words, while some Romance languages like Spanish and Portuguese retained it?(e.g. Spanish "pues" and Italian "poi").Is this phenomenon related to the loss of final consonants in French?

  • 3
    Spanish didn't exactly retain final s. It goes to h is some dialects.
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 20:53
  • Please spell the first letter of names of languages with a capital letter in English. How can some loss in X language be related to some "loss" in Y language? What proof do you have that there was any loss at all? Latin endings are similar to Italian ones.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 15:19
  • @Lambie Given that Italian, Spanish, and French belong to the same language family, it's reasonable to ask whether changes are shared between them (i.e. happened before they diverged) or not. For comparison with Latin, see e.g. amās vs ami "you love".
    – Draconis
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 15:48
  • @Draconis, No, it is not reasonable since Italian did not lose an s, it kept an o and an i from Latin.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 16:13
  • @Lambie There is no i in Latin post.
    – Draconis
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 16:17

1 Answer 1


Italian did not lose the final s: it turned it into a [j] (what English speakers call "the y sound"). So for example, the Latin word post lost the final t in proto-Romance, becoming *pos, that became pues in Spanish, poi in Italian and puis in French, all quite regularly.

This is less apparent due to the subsequent reduction of diphtongs (e.g. unstressed [aj] becoming [e]), but it is still visible, if you know where to look.

Examples of this process are all across the Italian lexicon: you can see it in the plurals: canes > *canei > cani, capras > *capraj > capre (although this was likely influenced by the nominative plural of the second declension). You can also see it, maybe less evidently, in the second personal singular ending of verbs: sedes > *sedej > siedi, amas > *amaj > ame (that got later regularized into ami). However compare with das > dai: the stressed diphtong has been preserved.

To my knowledge, this has nothing to do with the loss of final consonants in French.

Source: Maiden, M. (2014). Linguistic History of Italian, A. Routledge, section 2.12

  • 3
    There is a distinction in the historical phonotactics of Italian between monosyllabic and polysyllabic words: synchronically, in monosyllables /n/, /l/, /r/ are all allowed, while in polysyllables, the last syllable can generally be only a vowel or a semivowel, with exceptions in the modern language being mainly poetic. I'm pointing this out because I think it may help seeing the diachronic fact that post > *pos > poi was possible in monosyllables, but similar diphthongs got simplified in polysyllables, in a more general context.
    – LjL
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 22:50
  • 1
    Plus of course, in many New World dialects of Spanish, final /s/ has changed to /h/, or disappeared altogether.
    – jlawler
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 2:56
  • 3
    @LjL There is also the fact that Italo-Romance, as a rule, admits diphthongs only in stressed positions, so there is a general tendency to either reduce unstressed diphthongs or to move the stress Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 10:28

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