Chapter 4 - All About the

The Italian language has seven forms of the word the.
                                                Singular          Plural
                        Masculine       il libro              i libri
                                                l’animale         gli animali
                                                lo zio                gli zii

                        Feminine        la matita          le matite
                                                l’anima            le anime

            1. The article il is used with all masculine nouns which begin with a consonant.
            The plural of il is i.
                                    Singular                                               Plural
                        il giornale   the newspaper                  i giornali   the newspapers
                        il ragazzo   the boy                              i ragazzi   the boys

2. The article la is used with all feminine nouns which begin with a consonant.
The plural of la is le.
                                    Singular                                               Plural
                        la casa   the house                              le case   the houses
                        la calẹndola   the marigold                 le calẹndole   the marigolds
                        la matita   the pencil                          le matite   the pencils

            3.  The article l’ is used with all singular nouns (masculine or feminine) which begin with a vowel.
                        l’accento   the accent              l’edificio   the building            l’informaziọne   the information
                        l’ora   the hour                        l’ufficio   the office

            The plural forms of words which begin with a vowel are regular.  For example,

Singular Plural
l’aeroporto (the airport) gli aeroporti
l’entrata (the entrance) le entrate
l’inverno (the winter) gli inverni
l’odọre (the odor) gli odọri
l’umiliaziọne (the humiliation) le umiliaziọni

            4. The article lo is used with masculine nouns which begin with gn, ps, x, z or s + consonant.
            The plural of lo is gli (pronounced lyee, as the g is silent)
                                    Singular                                               Plural
                        lo gnomo   the gnome                         gli gnomi   the gnomes
                        lo psichiatro   the psychiatrist             gli psichiatri   the psychiatrists
                        lo studente   the student (male)           gli studenti   the students
                        lo xilọfono the xylophone                   gli xilọfoni  the xylophones
                        lo zuccọne   the pumpkin                    gli zuccọni   the pumpkins

NOTE: if a modifier occurs between the article “lo” and the noun that follows, then the plural of “lo” will be “i”.
For example, “the three students” becomes “i tre studenti”; “the many backpacks” becomes “i tanti zaini”.

In general, article usage is the same in Italian as in English, but there are a few differences.

            1. Parts of the body and clothing are referred to with an article rather than a possessive
            form.   examples:        She has blond hair.                 Lei ha i capelli biọndi.
                                                My stomach hurts me.          Mi duole il stǫmaco.
                                                I put on my shoes.               Mi vestii le scarpe.

            2. An article is always included to express the hour of the day.
                        examples:        It is one o’clock.                      È la una.
                                                I go to bed at ten.                   Mi dormo alle dieci.
                                                She will arrive at 9AM.           Lei arriverà alle nove a.m.
            3. An article is always included with days, months, and seasons of the year
                        example:          We start on Monday               Cominciamo il lunedì.
                                                I visited Chile in September.   Visitai Chile nel settembre.
                                                Spring is always pleasant.       La primavera sempre è piacẹvole.
            4. When referring to the numerical order of rulers, the article is omitted
                        example:          King George the fifth             Il re Giọrgio quinto

In ordinary speech, it is common to shorten the names of certain things such as fotografịato foto

When the shortened form is used, the original article will be retained.  Thus, la fotografịa is often reduced to la foto.

            A guide to the Contractions of articles and prepositions

Some prepositions and articles are expressed in a contracted form.  The contractions are as follows.

article a con da di in su
il al col dal del nel sul
i ai coi dai dei nei sui
la alla --- dalla della nella sulla
le alle --- dalle delle nelle sulle
gli agli --- dagli degli negli sugli
lo allo --- dallo dello nello sullo
l’ all’ --- dall’ dell’ nell’ sull’

The preposition per was once contracted, but such forms are now regarded as archaic.

How about a?

In Italian, the articles a or an are formed as follows.

            1.  Uno is used before all masculine singular nouns beginning with gn, ps, z, or s + consonant.
                        uno gnomo   a gnome                          uno pseudǫnimo   an alias
                        uno schizzo   a sketch                          uno zụfolo   a whistle

            2.  Un is before all other masculine singular nouns .
                        un ristorante   a restaurant      un giornale   a newspaper
                        un architetto   an architect       un avvocato   a lawyer

            3.  Una is used with all feminine singular nouns which begin with a consonant.
                        una leziọne   a lesson               una notte   a night
                        una cẹna   a dinner                  una biblioteca   a library

            4.  Un’ is used with all feminine singular nouns which begin with a vowel.
                        un’amica  a friend (female)    un’emoziọne   an emotion
                        un’idea  an idea                     un’ǫpera   an opera

The usage of un is the same as in English, except in the following case:
                                    He is a famous doctor.            Lui è un dottọre famọso.
                        But ...  He is a doctor.                         Lui è dottọre.

The plural forms used to express an indefinite quantity (such as some, a few, any) are formed as follows.

            1. Dello is used before all masculine nouns which begin with gn, ps, z, or s + a consonant.
            The plural of dello is degli.
                        dello zụcchero  (any sugar)                 degli spaghẹtti  (some spaghetti)

2. Del is used before all other masculine nouns which begin with a consonant.
The plural of del is dei.
                        del burro  (some butter)                      dei panini  (a few rolls)

            3. Della is used before all feminine nouns which begin with a consonant.
            The plural form of della is delle
                        della salsa  (some sauce)                     delle pere  (a few pears)

            4. Dell’ is used before any singular noun beginning with a vowel.
                        dell’acqua  (some water)                     dell’olio  (some oil)