In Italian there are two main types of article: definite (determinativi) and indefinites (indeterminativi).
The definite articles are used to introduce nouns which refer to a specific item, in English we would use the article the.
The indefinites are used when we know what type of person or thing the noun refers to, but not which individual; they are equivalent to the articles a and an in English.
In English the definite article (l'articolo determinativo) has only one form: the.
In Italian, it has different forms according to the gender, number, and first letter of the noun it precedes.
Il is used before masculine singular nouns beginning with a consonant
Il libro, il tavolo
L’ is used before masculine singular nouns beginning with a vowel
Lo is used before masculine singular nouns beginning with s + consonant or z
Lo studente, lo zaino
I is used before masculine plural nouns beginning with a consonant
I libri, I tavoli
Gli is used before masculine plural nouns beginning with a vowel or s + consonant or z
Gli aerei, gli orologi, gli studenti, gli zaini
La is used before feminine singular nouns beginning with any consonant
La sedia, la penna
L’ is used before feminine singular nouns beginning with a vowel
Le is used before feminine plural nouns beginning with a consonant or a vowel
Le sedie, le penne, le amiche, le insalate
The Italian indefinite article (l'articolo indeterminativo) corresponds to English a/an and is used with singular nouns.
Un is used for masculine words beginning with a consonant or a vowel
Un tavolo, un amico
Uno is used for masculine words beginning with z or s + consonant
Uno zio, uno studente
Una is used for feminine words beginning with a consonant
Una sedia, una zia
Un’ is used for feminine words beginning with a vowel.
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