Learn the Basics of Italian Articles (Definite / Indefinite)

In the Italian language we have two types of articles: Articoli Determinativi (definite articles) and Articoli Indeterminativi (indefinite articles).

L’articolo Determinativo (Definitive Article)


In Italian, l’articolo determinativo has different forms according to the gender, number, and first letter of the noun or adjective it precedes. Here are some guidelines that will help you to determine what article to use.

For singular nouns:


  • lo (LO): is used for all masculine nouns beginning with s+consonant or z.
  • il (IL): is used for all masculine nouns starting in a consonant, except the case where you use "lo".
  • la (LA): is used with feminine nouns starting with any consonant.
  • l’ (L'): is the elision of lo or la, and is used before masculine or feminine nouns beginning with a vowel.

Examples:


|Article |Italian |English |Gender |
|---|:-:|:-:|:-:|
|lo |lo zucchero |the sugar |masculine |
| il | il vecchio zio | the old uncle | feminine |
|lo |lo zio | the uncle | masculine |
| l' | l'impatto |the impact |masculine |
|il |il castello |the castle |masculine |
| l' |l'acqua |the water |feminine |
| la |la scatola |the box |feminine |

For plural nouns:


  • gli (GLI): is used with masculine nouns starting with vowels, the consonant z , cluster gn or clusters made of s+consonant.
  • i (I): is used with masculine nouns starting with consonants which do not belong to the previous case.
  • le (LE): is used before any plural feminine noun.

Examples:

|Article |Italian |English |Gender |
|---|:-:|:-:|:-:|
| gli |gli artisti |the artists |feminine |
|gli |gli elefanti |the elephants |masculine |
| le | le ali | the wings | feminine |
|i |i ragazzi | the boys | masculine |
| i | i cavalli |the horses |masculine |
|gli |gli stessi ragazzi |the same boys |masculine |

L'articolo Indeterminativo (Indefinite Article)


The Italian indefinite article (l'articolo indeterminativo) corresponds to English a/an and is used with singular nouns. It also corresponds to the number one.
When the noun to which the article applies is a masculine noun, then a/an can be translated as un, or uno. If the article applies to a feminine noun, then the article that has to be used is una. As with the definite articles, there are some rules to understand the use of these articles:

  • uno (UNO): is used for masculine words beginning with z or s+consonant.
  • un (UN): is used for all other masculine words, except the cases where you have to use uno.
  • una (UNA): is used with feminine nouns starting with any consonant.
  • un' (UN'): is the elision of una, and is used when feminine nouns start with any vowel.

For singular nouns:


| Article | Italian |English |Gender |
|---|:-:|:-:|:-:|
| un |un treno |a train | masculine |
| una |una bicicletta |a bicycle | feminine |
|un |un aeroplano |an airplane | masculine |
| un | un’automobile | a car |feminine |
| uno |uno stadio |a stage | masculine |
| una | una stazione | a station | feminine |

For plural nouns:


Note: When plural nouns are indefinite, they simply do not use an article, or they use the partitive form: i.e. cats (no article) or some cats (partitive), coins or some coins (partitive), etc. Partitive will be dealt with in another article, so we can address this concept later.
8 marzo 2016
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Francesco Volpi

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I was born and raised in the majesty of Rome, and I love to share my culture. I am an experienced Italian teacher, a learning specialist, and a screenwriter. I have started this journey on Verbling.com four years ago. I have been teaching Italian language and culture to students from all over the world with different needs, backgrounds, and levels. Each student is different and I craft the course together with them based on their goals. Forget the old boring lessons with just tons of grammar and no fun, I teach in a quick, simple and engaging way. My lessons are a blend of grammar, reading and comprehension, conversation, diction, and writing in order to develop all the skills you need to sound authentic. Last but not least, you don't have to buy any books. I'll provide you with everything you need! In my spare time, I love writing, cinema, music, travelling and fancy cocktails! Let’s chat about your interests! And of course, let's chat about Italy!
Flag
Italiano
globe
Italia
time
484
Parla:
Italiano
Madrelingua
,
Inglese
C1
,
Spagnolo
A1
I was born and raised in the majesty of Rome, and I love to share my culture. I am an experienced Italian teacher, a learning specialist, and a screenwriter. I have started this journey on Verbling.com four years ago. I have been teaching Italian language and culture to students from all over the world with different needs, backgrounds, and levels. Each student is different and I craft the course together with them based on their goals. Forget the old boring lessons with just tons of grammar and no fun, I teach in a quick, simple and engaging way. My lessons are a blend of grammar, reading and comprehension, conversation, diction, and writing in order to develop all the skills you need to sound authentic. Last but not least, you don't have to buy any books. I'll provide you with everything you need! In my spare time, I love writing, cinema, music, travelling and fancy cocktails! Let’s chat about your interests! And of course, let's chat about Italy!
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