Definite articles: Italian grammar lesson 5

stefano lodola italian teacher
Stefano
Italian language tutor, course author. MEng, MBA. Member of the International Association of Hyperpolyglots (HYPIA). After learning 12 languages, I can tell you that we all master languages by listening and mimicking. I couldn’t find an app to recommend to my students, so I made my own one. With my method, you’ll be speaking Italian from Lesson 1.
How long does it take to learn Italian? Is it hard? How fast you improve depends on your study method. Learn why in this honest guide by an Italian polyglot!
Activities to improve communication skills in a foreign language shift the focus of teaching from the language itself to actually doing things in that language.
Language learning is an artificial exercise that occupies time, money, and effort that could be better spent doing language acquisition. Learn to communicate!
Struggling with new words? An Italian polyglot has valuable advice about spaced repetition. A quick guide to memorize vocabulary fast, from pain to joy!
Italian for beginners can be a pain to learn. Not with this polyglot's video guide with 8 solutions to get started! The best way to survive and avoid pitfalls.
Struggling with listening? An Italian polyglot has valuable advice about comprehensible input. A quick guide to master any language fast. From pain to joy!
What is active recall? In the last years, there has been so much hype around active recall as it is believed to improve your study results and get you better...
How to practice speaking alone? For best results, turn virtually any study time (reading, listening, writing) into speaking practice for language immersion!
What makes a good method of learning a language? To me, a study method is good if it delivers results. Typically, people want to learn Italian to communicate. Thus, progress...

Summary

Unlock the secrets of Italian with our guide on definite articles! Learn how to use these tiny but mighty grammar tools to specify nouns, master gender and number agreement, and sound like a native when talking about anything from cats to countries. 🇮🇹✨

  • Gender Matters: Italian articles change based on gender. Use il for masculine and la for feminine. It’s a game-changer for not messing up in front of your Italian crush! 😏
  • Plurals Aren’t Just ‘S’: Forget just slapping an ‘s’ on a word to make it plural. In Italian, i and gli are for the boys, and le is for the girls. Plurals, Italian style! 🎉
  • First Impressions: The first letter of a noun decides the article. Lo for the tricky ones like ‘z’ and ‘s+consonant’, and l’ before a vowel. It’s like matching your belt to your shoes – it just works. 👌
  • Body Talk: Talking about body parts? Use definite articles like il and la to say whose arm or leg you’re talking about. No more awkward gestures! 🤷‍♂️
  • Geography Class: Name-dropping places like a pro? Definite articles are your passport. L’America, la Spagna – get it right, and you’ll sound like a local. 🌍
  • Language Love: When gushing about the beautiful Italian language, use l’italiano. But drop the article when you’re saying you speak it. Keep ’em guessing how fluent you are! 😉
  • Remember the Rules: Sure, Italian articles can be a headache, but they’re the key to unlocking real Italian. Stick with them, and you’ll be chatting about gli spaghetti like it’s nothing. 🍝

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!

This makes learning definite articles a bit more complicated, but once you know the structure, it’s relatively simple to get used to.

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?

Singular, masculine:

  • 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.

Singular, feminine:

  • 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.

Plural, masculine:

  • 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.

Plural, feminine:

  • 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.

Masculine Feminine
Singular Lo studente (=student)

specchio (=mirror)

zero (=zero)

zaino (=backpack)

gnomo (=gnome)

La borsa (=bag)

casa (=house)

studentessa (=female student)

Il cameriere (=waiter)

sole (=sun)

libro (=book)

L’ amore (=love)

insegnante (=teacher)

uomo (=man)

L’ attrice (=actress)

elettricità (=electricity)

Plural I camerieri (=waiters)

libri (=books)

Le borse (=bags)

case (=houses)

studentesse (=female students)

Gli insegnanti (=teachers)

uomini (=men)

studenti (=students)

zaini (=backpacks)

When to use definite articles?

Free Guide
How to Learn Languages Fast

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:

Maria ha un gatto. Il suo gatto è bellissimo!

Maria has a cat. Her cat is beautiful!

  • 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:

Mi piacciono i gatti.

I like cats.

Il cane è il miglior amico dell’uomo.

Dog is man’s best friend.

  • 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:
  1. Continents: l’America, l’Europa.
  2. Countries: l’Italia, la Spagna.
  3. Regions: la Toscana.
  4. Islands: la Sicilia, il Madagascar.
  5. Rivers: il Tevere.
  6. Mountains: il Monte Bianco.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

What do you need to remember about definite articles?

Definite articles (articoli determinativi) are words that refer to or introduce a particular, specific noun or a known concept (something that was previously mentioned).

In Italian, definite articles have different forms depending on the gender of the noun (masculine or feminine), the number of the noun (singular or plural), and the first letters of the noun or adjective that it precedes.

It may seem a bit complicated to learn at first, but once you understand the structure, it’s quite simple to get used to. And as a bonus, definite articles are a great way to help you figure out the grammatical gender of the noun.

Definite articles are used to indicate a particular/specific thing, person, or object, something that was mentioned previously, parts of the body, categories or species in a generic sense, and geographical locations.

There you have it! Now you know all about definite articles in Italian.

If you want to learn Italian by listening to Italian everyday phrases for 20 min a day, try out Ripeti Con Me.

Learn in the car with Think in Italian
Play Video about Learn in the car with Think in Italian

FAQs on Definite articles: Italian grammar lesson 5

How do articles work in Italy?

Definite articles "il" (singular) and "i" (plural) are used for masculine nouns starting with a consonant. Feminine nouns (without regard to the initial letters) are denoted by "la" (singular) and "le" (plural).

How do you identify articles in Italian?

The initial letter of a word affects the choice of the definite article that should be used.

What are the 7 definite articles in Italian?

There are 7 distinct Italian definite articles: Lo, il, la, l', gli, i, and le. In English, “the” has only one form, but in Italian there are seven.

Italian word of the day
cappuccino
Example
Vorrei un cappuccino, per favore.
I’d like a cappuccino, please.
Follow me to fluency​

Receive my free resources once a week together with my best offers! 

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lesson and other resources.

Leave a Reply

Share:

Take a free lesson today!

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lessons and other resources.

I’ll also deliver my free resources my best offers to your mailbox (opt out at any time).

Read more about Italian grammar lessons
How to ask questions in Italian? Learn the grammar with simple rules and examples and practice with audio lessons.
What does come se mean in Italian? Today we’re going to focus on one of those expressions that trigger the Italian subjunctive: the Italian equivalent of as if. Don’t worry...
How to use the subjunctive - irregular verbs in Italian? Learn the grammar with simple rules and examples and practice with audio lessons.
How to use portare in Italian? Learn the grammar with simple rules and examples and practice with audio lessons.
Try my courses for free​
Stefano

Log in

Reset password or get in touch.

Not a member yet? Join today!

How long to fluency?

Find out how long it will take you to master Italian!
Get on the right track in 3 minutes.

dolce vita logo

We're already friends!

Coming from Luca and Marina?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
all language resources

We're already friends!

Coming from All Language Resources?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
GRAB A COUPON NOW, REDEEM IT LATER
50% OFF

To receive free resources once a week together with my best offers, just tell me where to send everything. Opt out at any time.

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lesson and other resources.