A determiner is a word that describes a noun. Articles (articoli) are an example of determiners. In Italian there are definite and indefinite articles and their forms differ depending on gender, number and the letter that starts the following word.


The definite articles (articoli determinativi) are used as the equivalent of the English “the”. For masculine nouns the following articles are used:

- il

Used in singular this article is appropriate before most consonants:

il ragazzo - the boy
il treno - train

- i

In plural the definite article il changes into i:

i ragazzi - the boys
i treni - the trains

- lo

The article lo is used in singular for words starting with s + consonant and z:

lo studente - the student
lo zaino - backpack

- gli

In plural the article gli is used instead of lo:

gli studenti - the students
gli zaini - the backpacks

- l'

When dealing with masculine words starting with vowels the definite article l’ is required in singular:

l’aeroporto - the airport
l’orologio - the watch/clock

- The article l’ turns into gli in plural:

gli aeroporti - the airports
gli orologi - the watches/clocks

For feminine nouns there is less variety in the forms of definite articles:

- la

The definite article la is used in singular for feminine nouns starting with all consonants:

la tavola - the table
la stanza - the room

- le

An equivalent of the definite article la in plural is le:

le tavole - the tables
le stanze - the rooms

If a feminine noun starts with a vowel, the definite article l’ has to be used in singular:

l’amica - the (female) friend
l’arancia - the orange

The article l’ takes the form of le in plural:

le amiche - the (female) friends
le arance - the oranges

Italian Indefinite Articles

The indefinite article (articolo indeterminativo) is the equivalent of “a” or “an” in English. The forms differ just like in the case of definite articles but it does not exist in plural.

The indefinite article takes the following forms for masculine nouns:

- un

The indefinite article un is used for most masculine nouns starting with vowels and consonants.

un quadro - a painting
un albero - a tree

- uno

Uno is used much less often. It is reserved for nouns which start with s + consonant and z:

uno stivale - a boot
uno zingaro - a gypsy

For feminine nouns the indefinite article uses the forms listed below:

- una

Una is an indefinite article used with all feminine nouns starting with a consonant:

una donna - a woman
una finestra - a window

- un'

Un’ is used before feminine nouns starting with vowels:

un’attrice - an actress
un’amica - a (female) friend

The indefinite article is usually omitted in plural but sometimes a partitive article (dei, degli, delle) is used.