When you get into a conversation with Italians, you have little time to think about the many particularities of the language: noun gender, different types of articles, prepositions, etc.
Here are ten easy rules that you can keep in mind when you speak.
1. Nouns ending in -o are normally masculine.
il ragazzo - the boy
il libro - the book
Notable Exceptions: Feminine nouns ending in -o: la mano, la foto, la radio, l’auto
2. Regular masculine nouns that end in -o change their ending to -i in the plural.
i ragazzi - the boys
i libri - the books
3. Nouns ending in -a are normally feminine.
la ragazza - the girl
la scuola - the school
Notable Exceptions: Masculine nouns ending in -a: il problema, il cinema, il programma
4. Regular feminine nouns that end in -a change their ending to -e in the plural.
le ragazze - the girls
le scuole - the schools
5. Instead of il, the definite article lo (the) goes before masculine singular nouns beginning with z, s+consonant, ps, gn.
lo zio - the uncle (but: la zia - the aunt)
lo studio - the study (but: la strada - the street)
lo psicologo - the psychologist (but: la psicologa - the female psychologist)
6. The definite article gli is the plural form of lo - instead of the masculine plural i.
gli zii - the uncles
gli studi - the studies
gli psicologi - the psychologists
7. The definite article is used with possessive adjectives, except with singular nouns denoting family members.
il mio libro - my book
la tua amica - your friend
mio padre - my father
tua madre - your mother
mio zio - my uncle
Note: With plural family members, the definite article is used: i miei parenti - my parents (plural!)
8. To make a sentence negative, put non before the verbal expression (incl. object pronouns).
Non voglio mangiare. - I don’t want to eat
Non ho finito. - I haven’t finished.
Non lo conosco. - I don’t know him.
9. The preposition in (to/in) is normally used with continents, countries, regions, and large islands.
in Africa - to Africa/in Africa
in Francia - to France/in France
in Toscana - to Tuscany/in Tuscany
in Sardegna - to Sardinia/in Sardinia
10. The preposition a (to/in) is normally used with cities and small islands.
a Roma - to Rome/in Rome
a Capri - to Capri/in Capri