Definite articles

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Definite articles in Italian vary depending on gender (masculine and feminine), number (singular and plural) and the beginning letter of the following word. It may be sound a bit complicated, but you’ll surely learn the definite articles pretty quickly. Let’s learn together the rules of the definite article in Italian!

Definite articles in Italian

The definite article is used – as in English – to refer back to something known or already mentioned. In Italian, nouns and articles have two genders, masculine and feminine, and they can be either singular or plural. For example, il cane the dog is a masculine singular noun. For the definite articles it is also important to see which is the first letter of the following word. Have a look at the table with the rules.

Masculine

The masculine has four articles: il and lo for the singular, i and gli for the plural. Bevor vowels, the o of lo is dropped, becoming l’.

SingularPlural
before consonantil canei canidog
before vowell’amicogli amicifriend
before s+consonant
before z*
lo stivale
lo zio
gli stivali
gli zii
boot
uncle

*Besides s+consonant and z, there are further peculiar cases: y (lo yogurt), x (lo xilofono), gn (lo gnomo), ps (lo psicologo).

Feminine

The feminine has two articles: la for the singular and le for the plural. The a of la is dropped before vowels, becoming l’.

SingularPlural
before consonantla muccale mucchecow
before vowell’isolale isoleisland

Esercizio

1. Gli articoli

In order to use the articles appropriately, you should know if the word is feminine or masculine. To learn more about Italian nouns and their gender, you can read this article: Masculine and feminine.

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