What are definite articles in Italian?
Definite articles (articoli determinativi) refer to or introduce a particular, specific noun or a known concept (something that was previously mentioned).
Italian definite articles have different forms according to the following things:
- The gender of the noun (masculine or feminine)
- The number of the noun (singular or plural)
- The first letters of the noun or adjective that it precedes
How to say the in Italian?
Italian definite articles generally correspond to the English article the, but while in English it has only one form, in Italian there is a total of 7 different definite articles: Lo, il, la, l’, gli, i, le.
Yes, they all mean the in Italian!
Definite articles are great clues to understanding the noun’s grammatical gender!
Learn more about nouns’ gender and number in Italian here.
How to conjugate definite articles?
- Lo: it is used for all singular masculine nouns beginning with z, gn, or s+consonant.
- Il: it is used for all singular masculine nouns beginning with a consonant, except the nouns for which lo is used instead.
- L’: it is used for all singular masculine nouns beginning with a vowel.
- La: it is used for all singular feminine nouns starting with a consonant.
- L’: it is used for all singular feminine nouns beginning with a vowel.
- Gli: it is used for all plural masculine nouns starting with vowels, z, gn, or s+consonant.
- I: it is used for all other plural masculine nouns.
- Le: it is used for all plural feminine nouns.
You can follow this table for the conjugation of singular and feminine nouns, according to the word’s number (singular and plural) and word beginning.
studentessa (=female student)
studentesse (=female students)
When to use definite articles?
Let’s look at when to use definite articles and some example sentences.
- To indicate a particular or specific thing, person, or object:
Hai visto il gatto di Maria?
Have you seen Maria’s cat?
Mi hanno rubato il passaporto
They stole my passport
- To indicate something that was mentioned previously:
- To talk about parts of the body:
Mi fa male la testa.
My head hurts.
Luca si è rotto il braccio.
Luca broke his arm.
- To indicate a category or a species in a generic sense:
- Before the name of a language, except when the verbs parlare (to speak) or studiare (to study).
In those cases, it’s up to you whether you want to use it or not.
L’italiano è una lingua molto musicale.
Italian is a very musical language.
Mi piace imparare l’italiano.
I like learning Italian.
- To refer to geographical locations, such as:
- Continents: l’America, l’Europa.
- Countries: l’Italia, la Spagna.
- Regions: la Toscana.
- Islands: la Sicilia, il Madagascar.
- Rivers: il Tevere.
- Mountains: il Monte Bianco.
Practice with QuizletHere's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.
What do you need to remember about definite articles?
Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!