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The Definite Article (Articolo Determinativo)

In Italian grammar the Definite article (IL - LO - LA - I - GLI - LE) is one of the variable elements of a sentence, and agrees in gender and number with the noun.

Therefore the single English article "THE" corresponds in Italian to 6 articles, 3 singular (il, lo, la) and 3 plural ones (i, gli, le). The masculine article has two forms for the singular (il, lo) and two for the plural (i, gli) depending on the initial letter of the following noun.

Also, the singular "lo" and "la" is usually elided before vowels, becoming "l'".

Prepositions (di, a, da, in, con, su) followed by a definite article usually join in one word. The preposition di+ article (del, dello, dalla, dei, degli, delle) is called partitive article and corresponds to the English "some, any, no" (example: Hai del denaro? = Have you got any money?).

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Masculine



Category
1. all nouns not belonging to groups 2 and 3
2. before sc- sp- st- gn- z-
3. before vowels
Singular
il
lo
l'
Plural
i
gli
gli
Feminine

Category
1. all nouns not belonging to group 2
2. before vowels
Singular
la
l'
Plural
le
le

Now study these examples -- Masculine Nouns:
English
the book
the watch
the student (m)
the plane
time
the job
the tree
the bus
the child (m.)
sugar
the friend (m)
the father
the writer (m)
the brother
Singular
il libro
l'orologio
lo studente
l'aereo
il tempo
il lavoro
l'albero
l'autobus
il bambino
lo zucchero
l'amico
il padre
lo scrittore
il fratello
Plural
i libri
gli orologi
gli studenti
gli aerei
i tempi
i lavori
gli alberi
gli autobus
i bambini
gli zuccheri
gli amici
i padri
gli scrittori
i fratelli
English
the house
the car
the student (f)
the school
the woman
the pen
the orange
the street
the child (f.)
water
the friend (f)
the mother
the writer (f)
the sister
Singular
la casa
l'auto
la studentessa
la scuola
la donna
la penna
l'arancia
la strada
la bambina
l'acqua
l'amica
la madre
la scrittrice
la sorella
Plural
le case
le auto
le studentesse
le scuole
le donne
le penne
le arance
le strade
le bambine
le acque
le amiche
le madri
le scrittrici
le sorelle

Use of the Article in Italian

  • in English the definite article is often omitted with uncountables, abstract and countables plural, whereas in Italian an artiche is always used in these cases. Examples:
    Sugar is bad for your teeth --> Lo zucchero fa male ai denti.
    I like rock music --> Mi piace la musica rock.
    My sister is allergic to eggs --> Mia sorella è allergica alle uova.
  • in English the definite article is not used with the majority of countries and region names, while it is used in Italian, and of course these names are either masculine or feminine:
    Ireland, China, Belgium, the United States, California, Texas, Provence, Lombardy, Bayern -->
    l'Irlanda, la Cina, il Belgio, gli Stati Uniti, la California, il Texas, la Provenza, la Baviera
  • in English the indefinite article (a, an) is used in some expression, as jobs, while Italians use the definite article or sometimes no article. Examples:
    My brother is a doctor, his wife is a teacher --> Mio fratello fa il dottore, sua moglie fa l'insegnante.
    Or also --> Mio fratello è dottore, sua moglie è insegnante.