Qualche vs alcuni: Italian grammar lesson

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Key Takeaways

Dive into the Italian language and discover the nuances of expressing quantities with “some.” This guide breaks down the use of “un po’ di,” “qualche,” “alcuni,” and “alcune,” ensuring you sound like a native while shopping or chatting with friends in Italy!

  • Un po’ di is your go-to for both singular uncountable and plural countable nouns when you want to say “some” in a laid-back, chatty way. 🗣️
  • Got a vowel starting your next word? Un po’ di can slickly turn into un po’ d’ to keep things flowing smoothly. 🌊
  • Use qualche when you’re counting but not really counting. It’s singular but feels plural, like “a few” in English. It’s quirky like that. 🤷‍♂️
  • When things are definitely countable and you’ve got more than one, alcuni (masculine) or alcune (feminine) are your plural pals. 📚
  • Feeling negative? Alcuno, alcun, and alcuna are the singular forms that pop up only when you’re saying “none” or “no” in Italian. 🚫

Quick facts

How does "un po' di" differ in formality from other expressions?

"Un po' di" is the most informal way to say "some" in Italian, predominantly used in spoken language.

When can "un po' di" be used with countable nouns?

"Un po' di" can be used with plural countable nouns like "libri" (books) and "alberi" (trees), similar to how "some" is used in English.

How does "un po' di" change when followed by a vowel?

"Un po' di" can become "un po' d’" before a vowel, especially with uncountable nouns, e.g., "un po' d'acqua" (some water).

What is special about the word "qualche" when used in Italian?

"Qualche" is unique because it is always singular in form, even though it implies a plural meaning, like "a few."

How does "qualche" differ from "alcuni" and "alcune" in terms of singularity and plurality?

Unlike "qualche," which is always singular, "alcuni" (masculine) and "alcune" (feminine) are always plural and used with plural nouns.

Can you provide an example where "qualche" is used in a sentence?

Sure, "Passami qualche bicchiere" means "Pass me a few glasses," where both words are singular in form but plural in meaning.

When do you use "alcuni" and "alcune" in Italian?

Use "alcuni" for masculine plural nouns and "alcune" for feminine plural nouns, e.g., "Alcuni alberi" (some trees) and "Alcune cose" (some things).

What is the singular equivalent of "alcuni" and "alcune" in negative sentences?

In negative sentences, "alcuno," "alcun," and "alcuna" replace "nessuno," "nessun," and "nessuna," indicating "no" or "none."

How do "qualche" and "alcuni/alcune" compare in meaning?

Both "qualche" and "alcuni/alcune" mean "a few" or "some," but "qualche" is always singular, while "alcuni/alcune" are always plural.

Can "un po' di" be used with uncountable nouns?

Yes, "un po' di" is used with uncountable nouns like "pane" (bread) and "acqua" (water), similar to "some" in English.

My Thoughts

Qualche vs alcuni in Italian

There are many ways to say some in Italian:

  • Un po’ di

Ho un po’ di libri.

I have some books.

  • Qualche

Ho qualche libro.

I have some books.

  • Alcuni, alcune

Ho alcuni libri.

I have some books.

The first one, un po’ (some or a few) is the most informal and it is mainly used in spoken Italian.

It never changes its form and can be used both with singular uncountable nouns such as:

  • pane – bread
  • acqua – water
  • fame – hunger

As well as with plural countable nouns like:

  • mesi – months
  • alberi – trees
  • libri – books

You can use it exactly as you would use some in English.

Giovanna ha comprato un po’ di pane.

Giovanna bought some bread.

Giulio ha piantato un po’ di alberi.

Giulio planted some trees.

Remember, when the word that follows starts with a vowel, un po’ di can sometimes become un po’ d’ especially when it is followed by an uncountable noun.

Vuoi un po’ d’acqua?

Would you like some water?

How to use qualche in Italian?

The words qualche, alcuni, and alcune also are used to talk about small quantities of something, but they can only be used with countable nouns, which, as you probably know or guessed are nouns that can be counted!

These two words are more similar to a few in English.

There are only a few rules to remember to be able to use qualche and alcuni, alcune with no problems.

Let’s have a look at them!

Qualche always stays the same. It does not have a plural, masculine or feminine form, it’s always qualche, and it is used only in singular, even if its meaning is plural!

Passami qualche bicchiere.

Pass me a few glasses.

Did you notice? The words qualche and bicchiere are in their singular forms, although we are talking about a small quantity of bicchieri (glasses).

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Let’s see some more examples:

Non lo vedo da qualche anno.

I haven’t seen him in a few years.

Hai avuto qualche problema in banca?

Did you have some problems at the bank?

How to use alcuni and alcune in Italian?

While qualche is always singular, alcuni (masculine) and alcune (feminine) are always used in plural, followed by a plural noun.

Just remember to use the feminine or masculine form according to the noun you are describing!

Alcune cose sono in saldo.

Some things are on sale.

Ci sono stati alcuni problemi.

There were some problems.

Alcuni alberi sono caduti a causa del temporale.

Some trees fell due to the storm.

Practice with Quizlet

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

The word alcuno, alcun, alcuna does exist in the singular form, but it is only used in negative sentences to replace nessuno, nessun, nessuna (nothing or no).

Non c’è alcun – Non c’è nessun problema.

There is no problem.

Non è di alcuna utilità. – Non è di nessuna utilità.

It is of no use.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

How do you say some in Italian?

To say some in Italian, you can use the expressions "un po'", "qualche", and "alcuni/e".

How to use "un po'"?

Un po' is the most informal way to say some, and it is mostly used in spoken Italian. It never changes its form, and you can use it with singular uncountable nouns and plural countable nouns.

How to use "qualche"?

"Qualche" is used for small quantities of something (it is more similar to a few). It always stays the same and is used only in the singular (even if its meaning is plural).

How to use "alcuni" and "alcune"?

"Alcuni" and "alcune" have the same meaning as "qualche". However, they are always used in the plural and are followed by a plural noun.

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2 Responses

  1. Alcune lezioni – I finally figured out that lezioni looks like a masculine plural noun but is actually feminine. So that is why one says alcune lezioni. A bit of explanation or perhaps not using this example would have been una buon’ idea.

    1. Ciao @loucantamessa@icloud.com!

      La lezione is a female singular noun. We explored all about nouns and genders in this grammar note, be sure to read it to avoid further confusion.

      It’s important to remember the genre of nous when using alcuni (masculine) and alcune (feminine) because even if these words are always used in plural they go according to the genre of the noun you’re describing.

      If you have any other question or doubt, don’t hesitate to let us know!

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