Italian School of Dallas
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Definite Articles



The definite article is used to talk about a think or a person that is known to the listener or that has been mentioned at least once before during the conversation.

In English there is only one definite article: 'the'.  There are eight different ways to say ‘the’ in Italian.  
Articles vary because they have to agree in gender and number with the noun they are referring to.  The added complication is that they also vary depending on which letter (or first two letters) the noun starts with.  Just like nouns, articles can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural.  Let’s start with the masculine:


Masculine Singular


LO – is used before any masculine singular noun that starts with s+consonant, z, ps, gn, y.  There aren't that many of them, but it's good to remember these few:


Lo studente, lo zio (the uncle), lo sbaglio (the mistake), lo specchio (the mirror), lo yogurt, lo psicologo (the psychologist).


IL – is used before any masculine singular noun that starts with any other consonant.  This is the most common masculine article, so when in doubt use this one.  Examples:


Il bambino, il libro, il cane, il tavolo, il ragazzo, il film, il professore, il pesce, il pane


L’ – is used before all masculine singular words that start with any vowel:


L’ amico, l’albergo, l’ufficio (the office), l’uomo, l’esercito (the army)

 

Masculine Plural


Gli – is used before any masculine plural noun that start with s+consonant, z, ps, gn, y AND for all masculine plural noun starting with any vowel:

Gli studenti, gli zii, gli sbagli, gli yogurt, gli psicologi, gli gnomi, gli amici, gli alberghi, gli uffici, gli uomini, gli eserciti


I – is used before all masculine plural nouns that start with any other consonant:


I bambini, i libri, i cani, i tavoli, i ragazzi, i film, i professori, i pesci

 

 

Feminine Singular


La – is used before all feminine singular nouns that start with any consonant:


La ragazza, la famiglia (the family), la casa, la mamma, la rosa (the rose), la scuola (the school), la zia


L’ - is used before all feminine singular nouns starting with any vowel:


L’amica, l’oca (the goose), l’opera, l’uva (the grapes), l’indipendenza (independence)

 

Feminine Plural


Le – is used before ALL feminine plural nouns:


Le ragazze, le famiglie, le case, le mamme, le rose, le scuole, le zie, le amiche, le oche, le opere

 

Now You

Find the correct article for the following singular nouns:

rosa  = rose
bicchiere  (mn) = glass (drinking)
canzone (fn) = song
poltrona  = armchair 
porto  = harbor
tazza  = cup
gattino = kitty
muro  = wall
chiave (fn) = key
tavolo = table
occhio = eye
sbaglio = mistake
allarme (mn) = alarm
amore (mn) = love


Well done!
Now, if you really want to challenge yourself, try to turn all of these nouns and articles into plural.