There are two types of articles - the definite article and the indefinite article. The definite article is equivalent to ‘the’ and the indefinite article is equivalent to ‘a’ or ‘an’. 

Definite articles

These are used much more commonly than in English. When you learn a new word, it is useful to learn the article that goes with the noun. 

Definite articles need to agree in gender and number with the noun they precede:

Il ragazzo- the boy (masculine singular)

I ragazzi- the boys (masculine plural)

La ragazza- the girl (feminine singular)

Le ragazze- the girls (feminine plural)

They also need to follow rules according to the letter the noun starts with. If a masculine or feminine singular word starts with a vowel you use l’:

L’albergo- the hotel (masculine singular)

L’arancia- the orange (feminine singular)

If a masculine word starts with s + consonant, z, ps, gn, y or pn you use the article loin the singular and gliin the plural. You should also use the plural gli for masculine words that start with a vowel:

Lo studente- the student (masculine singular)

Lo zio- the uncle (masculine singular)

Gli studenti- The students (masculine plural)

Gli zii- The uncles (masculine plural)

Gli alberghi- The hotels (masculine plural)

In Italian, when you say at the cinema, in the shop etc. the word for ‘at’ or ‘in’ combines with the definite article. For example:

Al cinema- at the cinema (masculine singular)

Nella stazione- in the station (feminine singular)

Dagli aeroporti- from the airports (masculine plural)

Sulle strade- on the streets (feminine plural)

Here is a table with each of these articles:

 

DEFINITE

ARTICLE

A

DA

DI

IN

SU

il

al

dal

del

nel

sul

lo

allo

dallo

dello

nello

sullo

l'

all'

dall'

dell'

nell'

sull'

i

ai

dai

dei

nei

sui

gli

agli

dagli

degli

negli

sugli

la

alla

dalla

della

nella

sulla

l'

all'

dall'

dell'

nell'

sull'

le

alle

dalle

delle

nelle

sulle

 

Indefinite articles

Indefinite articles are equivalent to ‘a’ or ‘an’ in English and used with singular nouns. There are four indefinite articles in Italian: un, uno, una and un’.

Un is used with masculine nouns, starting with a consonant or vowel:

Un ragazzo - a boy (masculine)

Un amico - a friend (masculine)

Una is used with feminine nouns starting with a consonant:

Una ragazza - a girl (feminine)

Un’is used with feminine nouns starting with a vowel:

Un’ora- an hour (feminine)

Un’amica- a friend (feminine)

Uno is used with masculine nouns starting with s + consonant, z, ps, pn, y or gn:

Uno studente - a student (masculine)

Uno zio - an uncle (masculine)

Here are some exercises to try, fill in the correct article in the space:

Definite articles

___ castello - the castle

___ acqua - the water

___ zucchero - the sugar

___ scatola - the box

___ artisti - the artists

___ mucche - the cows

Indefinite articles

___ treno - a train

___ automobile - a car

___ bicicletta - a bicycle

___ aeroporto - an airport