Posted on by Ulrike Rettig

Italian Definite and Indefinite Articles - easy Rules

made in Italy stampEnglish speakers have it easy! The ubiquitous “the” makes any English noun definite. But getting the right Italian articles is a little more complicated.

Not only do you have to know the gender – OK, “a” and “o” endings will give you a clue, as long as you also remember some exceptions – but then you have to select among a number of singular and plural forms.

The masculine Italian definite articles are the ones that cause the learner most trouble. Don't despair, however, we'll give you the major rules, as well as a fun game, Italian Articles, so you can remember the rules more easily!

Italian Definite Articles for Masculine:

Singular: il - lo - l'

il: singular nouns that begin with a consonant Italian articles Quick Language Game
• il pranzo - the lunch
• il giorno - the day
• il succo - the juice

lo: singular nouns that begin with s+consonant, y, z, pn, ps, gn
• lo scrittore - the writer
• lo studente - the student
• lo yogurt – the yoghurt
• lo zio - the uncle
• lo pneumatico – the inflatable
• lo psicologo – the psychologist
• lo gnocco – the (small) dumpling

l': singular nouns that begin with a vowel
• l'album - the album
• l'indirizzo - the address
• l'orologio - the clock, watch

Note: The first letter of the word that follows the article determines the form of the article.
• lo zio - the uncle
• il vecchio zio - the old uncle

• l'album - the album
• il nostro album - our album

Plural: i and gli

i: plural nouns that begin with a consonant
• i pranzi
• i giorni
• i nonni

gli: plural nouns that begin with s + consonant, y, z, pn, ps, gn
• gli scrittori
• gli studenti
• gli yogurt
• gli pneumatici
• gli psicologi
• gli gnocchi
Note:  the plural form of “yogurt” doesn't change

gli: plural nouns that begin with a vowel
• gli amici
• gli edifici
• gli ospiti Italian articles language gameNote: The first letter of the word that follows the article determines the form of the article
• gli amici - the friends
• i miei amici - my friends

• gli studenti - the students
• i tuoi studenti - your students

Italian Indefinite Articles for Masculine

Compared to the definite articles, the masculine singular indefinite articles are pretty easy:
un: for all masculine gender nouns
• un amico - a friend
• un libro - a book
• un succo - a juice

uno: for those beginning with s+ consonant, z, y, pn, ps, gn
uno studente - a student
• uno spazio - a space
• uno zio - an uncle

Italian Definite Articles for Feminine

The feminine Italian definite articles are either la, l', or le, as shown below.

Feminine Singular - Femminile Singolare: la and l'

la: for all feminine nouns (except - see below)
• la scuola - the school
• la ragazza - the girl, girlfriend
• la chiave - the key

l': for a noun that starts with a vowel
• l'ora - the hour
• l'idea - the idea
• l'edicola - the kiosk, newsstand

Femminile Plurale - Feminine Plural: le is used in all cases.'s  Italian articles language game• le fotografie - the photos
• le settimane- the weeks
• le notti - the nights

• le ore - the hours
• le opere - the works
• le uve - the grapes

Italian Indefinite Articles for Feminine

una: for all singular feminine nouns 
• una camera - a room
• una domanda - a question

un' : for any feminine nouns beginning with a vowel
• un'idea - an idea
• un'ora - an hour

Partitive Articles and Combinations with Pronouns

Enough grammar rules for now! It's always a good idea to pace yourself and not bite off too much.

We'll cover the “del, dei, dello, della, glielo, glieli, etc.” in another post and have you practice them “playfully” with our language games.

Applying the rules and practicing the Italian articles with their singular and plural forms with as many nouns as you can remember is a worthwhile exercise. Once you got these down pat, it's time to internalize a few other Italian grammar rules.

Let us know any comments or questions below.