Italian/Articles

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Determinative article (the) / L'articolo determinativo[edit]

The English article the has several translations into Italian, according to:

  • gender: masculine or feminine
  • number: singular or plural
  • initial of the following word

Basic articles:

Masculine singular: il
Masculine plural: i
Feminine singular: la
Feminine plural: le

Articles must have the same gender and number of the referred noun.

Examples:

Il ragazzo (the boy)
La ragazza (the girl)
I ragazzi (the boys)
Le ragazze (the girls)

When the following word begins with z, s+consonant, gn, pn, ps or x, the masculine article is changed as follows:

Masculine articles before impure consonant sounds:

Masculine singular: lo
Masculine plural: gli

Examples:

Lo zio (the uncle)
Gli zii (the uncles)

When the following word begins with a vowel, articles are changed as follows:

Articles before a vowel:

Masculine singular: l' (lo)
Masculine plural: gli
Feminine singular: l' (la)
Feminine plural: le

The form l' is not colloquial, it is the normal form even in very polite and refined speech.

Examples:

L'orso (the bear)
- plural: gli orsi (the bears)
L'arma (the weapon)
- plural: le armi (the weapons)

Note that when the vowel is an i pronounced as a semi-vowel, lo and la are used, eg lo iodio, la iarda.

Indeterminate and Partitive Articles (a/an) / Gli articoli partitivi e indeterminativi (un/uno/una)[edit]

Basic indeterminate articles:

Masculine singular: un
Masculine singular: uno (For impure consonants z, s+consonant, gn, pn, ps, x)
Feminine singular: una (un' is written when the following word starts with vowel, do not confuse with masculine un!)

These articles do not have any plural but instead the Partitive Article can be used. These articles all have the meaning of "some" and they are similar to some prepositions but they are not prepositions, they work like articles.

Partitive articles or plural indeterminative:

Masculine plural: dei
Masculine plural: degli (For impure consonants z, s+consonant, gn, pn, ps, x)
Feminine plural: delle