Articles

The definite article – L’articolo determinativo
The definite article in English is the word the which comes before a noun. In Italian there are seven words that mean the – il, i, lo, gli, l’, la, and le. The one that you use is dependant on the gender of the noun it precedes (masculine or feminine), the number involved (singular or plural) and the spelling of the noun. The table below shows how each article is used:

Article Gender Number Usage
il masculine singular most masculine singular nouns
lo masculine singular masculine nouns beginning with z, gn, s+consonant & p+consonant
l’ masculine singular masculine nouns beginning with a vowel
i masculine plural plural of singular masculine nouns taking il
gli masculine plural plural of singular masculine nouns taking lo or l’
la feminine singular most feminine nouns
l’ feminine singular feminine nouns beginning with a vowel
le feminine plural feminine plural nouns

Example sentences using the definite article

The indefinite article – L’articolo indeterminativo
The indefinite article in English is the word a or an which again is used before a noun. In Italian there are four words that mean a or an – un, uno, una and un’. Just as with the definite article, the one that you use is dependant on the gender of the noun it precedes (masculine or feminine), the number involved (singular or plural) and the spelling of the noun. The table below shows how each article is used:

Article Gender Usage
un masculine most masculine singular nouns
uno masculine masculine nouns beginning with z, gn, s+consonant & p+consonant
una feminine most feminine nouns
un’ feminine feminine nouns beginning with a vowel

Example sentences using the indefinite article

The partitive article – L’articolo partitivo
The partitive article is the equivalent of some in English. In the singular this corresponds to part of a whole item e.g. del formaggio – some cheese. In the plural it corresponds to an indefinite number e.g. delle chiese – some churches.

The partitive articles are del, dello, dell’, dei, degli, della and delle. They are formed by combining di (modified to de) and the definite article as in the table below:

Article Gender Description
del masculine used for masculine singular nouns taking il as the definitive article
dello masculine used for masculine singular nouns taking lo as the definitive article
dell’ masculine used for masculine singular nouns taking l’ as the definitive article
dei masculine used for masculine nouns taking i as plural definitive article
degli masculine used for masculine nouns taking gli as plural definitive article
della feminine used for feminine singular nouns taking la as the definitive article
dell’ feminine used for feminine singular nouns taking l’ as the definitive article
delle feminine used for feminine plural nouns taking le as the definitive article

Example sentences using the indefinite article