English has only one definite article: the. However, the Italian l’articolo determinative takes many forms. Which form you should use depends on the number, gender, and first letter of the noun or adjective that it precedes.
Use the following rules to determine the correct form:
- Lo (singular) and gli (plural) precede masculine nouns that begin with s + consonant, z, x, ps, gn, or pn.
- Il and i precede masculine nouns that begin with other consonants.
- L’ and gli precede masculine nouns that begin with a vowel.
- La and le precede feminine nouns that begin with a consonant.
- L’ and le precede feminine nouns begin with a vowel.
Here is a table of the rules with examples of each:
|M||s-cons, gn, pn, ps, x, z||lo||gli||lo studente
Additional Notes on Usage
Articles must agree in gender in and number with the nouns they precede. Each noun in a list must be preceded by its own article:
- i fratelli e le sorelle = the brothers and the sisters
- i francese e gli italiani = the French and the Italians
An article takes the form of the noun that immediately follows the article. For example, “the man” would be translated as l’uomo, but “the old man” would be translated as il vecchio uomo.
Articles are used before days of the week when referring to habitual actions but not when referring to specific actions on specific days.
In most situations, the name of a language must always been preceded by the definite article. However, the article is optional when the verbs parlare (to speak) or studiare (to study) come immediately before the name of a language.