Practise Italian articles
Most learners of Italian often find themselves wondering how Italian articles work and which article to use – determinativo (definite) or indeterminativo (indefinite)?
In this page you will see
the two types of Italian articles – articolo determinativo and articolo indeterminativo
Articoli determinativi are articles used to refer to something that both the speaker and the listener know exists.
More specifically, we use it:
- to refer to something precise and unique, e.g. “il cane di Anna” (Anna’s dog)
- with possessives, e.g. “il mio cane”, “la tua casa” etc EXCEPT FOR nouns referring to the members of the family, e.g. “mia mamma”, “mio padre” etc
- with abstract nouns and colors, e.g. “la felicità”(happiness), “il rosa” (pink)
- with the parts of the body, e.g. “la faccia” (the face), “i capelli” (the hairs)
- with a profession + name, e.g. “il professor Bianchi” (Professor Bianchi), “L’architetto Antonacci” (Architect Antonacci)
- with the name of a family, e.g. “I Rossi” (The Rossi family)
We do not use it:
- with names of people, e.g. “Antonio”, “Anna”, etc BUT in northern Italy it is more and more frequent to hear a female name with a definite article, e.g. “La Sara” (Sara), but this is still a dialect feature.
- with names of towns: “Venezia”, “Roma”
We use the articolo indeterminativo to refer to something indefinite and general, that usually the speakers do not know.
The plural of this article is called articolo partitivo (dei, degli, delle) and corresponds to English “some, any”.
We use this type of article:
- to refer to something unspecific and “random”, e.g. “Ho visto un gatto” (I have seen a cat), “Maria ha una nuova macchina” (Maria has got a new car)
- to refer to something you mention for the first time, e.g. “Ho un nuovo ragazzo” (I have a new boyfriend)
Maria ha UN nuovo ragazzo. IL ragazzo si chiama Alberto.
Maria has a new boyfriend. The guy / Her boyfriend is called Alberto.
UN ragazzo–> (not mentioned before)
IL ragazzo –> (I have mentioned it in the previous sentence, and I am talking about a precise person, Maria’s boyfriend)