In this language lesson we are going to learn how to say ‘some’ or ‘any’ in Italian. Imagine you’re sitting in a beautiful rooftop bar in Italy, and you want to ask the waiter ‘Do you have any dry white wine?’ or ‘Could I have some crisps with my wine?’. Well after this language lesson, you’ll know how!
The great thing about today’s language lesson is that Italian doesn’t differentiate between ‘some’ and ‘any’, we can use the same word to express both. However, there is one slight complication … the word you use varies depending on gender or number!
We start off with the preposition ‘di’ and combine it with the right definite article to match the gender and number of the noun e.g. il, la, lo, l’, i, gli, le. When joined together, you get del, della, dello, dell’, dei, degli, delle. All of these variants can be used to say ‘some’ or ‘any’ in Italian.
Let’s revisit the questions from our first paragraph and translate them:
Do you have any dry white wine? – Avete del vino bianco secco? (wine is masculine singular so di + il = del)
Could I have some crisps with my drink? – Potrei avere delle patatine con il vino? (crisps are feminine plural so di + le = delle)
Now let’s look at some other examples:
Vuoi del pane? – Would you like some / any bread?
Noi beviamo del caffè – We drink some coffee
Mettiamo dello zucchero? – Shall we put some sugar in?
C’è della carne in vendita al mercato – There is some meat on sale at the market
Hai dell’acqua? – Have you got any water?
Berrei volentieri della birra! – I would gladly drink some beer!
Usciamo con degli amici – We are going out with some friends
Hai comprato dei nuovi libri? – Have you bought some / any new books?
Sto avendo dei problemi con il lavoro – I’m having some problems with work
Ho delle scarpe rosse – I have some red shoes
Hanno comprato delle piante oggi – They bought some plants today
Conosci delle buone pizzerie in zona? – Do you know any good pizzerias in the area?
There are two other words you could use to express ‘some’ or ‘any’, depending on the context. The first of these is ‘qualche’, it is invariable and always singular even though it is used to express a plural.
The second has exactly the same meaning, but two options: ‘alcuni’ for masculine plural and ‘alcune’ for feminine plural.
Let’s look at some sentences using these:
Ho visto qualche albero / Ho visto alcuni alberi – I saw some trees
Ho mangiato qualche cornetto buonissimo / Ho mangiato alcuni cornetti buonissimi – I ate some delicious croissants
Vorrei qualche mela / Vorrei alcune mele – I would like some apples
Facciamo qualche lezione d’italiano / Facciamo alcune lezioni d’italiano – We have some Italian language lessons