In this lesson you will learn about the use of the articles in the italian grammar.
Articles can be definite or indefinite, it depends if they refer to a known object or not and they can help you identify the gender (masculine/feminine) and number (singular/plural) of the nouns they refer to, as they change depending on that.
THE DEFINITE ARTICLES
You normally use the article il (singular) and i (plural) for masculine nouns that starts with a consonant.
Examples: il libro / i libri (the book / the books)
il gatto / i gatti (the cat / the cats)
Words that begin with x, y, z and with the groups gn, pn, ps, sc need the articles lo (singular) and gli (plural)
Examples: lo zio / gli zii (the uncle / the uncles)
lo gnomo / gli gnomi (the dwarf / the dwarfs)
lo psicologo / gli psicologi (the psychologist / the psychologists)
As regards the feminine form, you can use la (singular) and le (plural) for all the nouns.
Examples: la matita / le matite (the pencil / the pencils)
la casa / le case (the house / the houses)
For both the masculine and feminine gender, you need to be careful with the singular nouns starting with a vowel, as the article is elided and written with an apostrophe: lo/la → l’
Examples: M) l’ errore / gli errori (the mistake / the mistakes)
F) l’ aula / le aule (the classroom / the classrooms)
THE INDEFINITE ARTICLES
Differently from the definite one, the indefinite article is only used with singular nouns and it only changes for gender.
The article un is used with masculine nouns starting with a vowel or a consonant
Examples: un aereo (an airplane)
un treno (a train)
However, with words starting with x, y, z and the groups gn, pn, ps, sc you have to use the article uno.
Examples: uno zaino (a backpack)
uno scoiattolo (a squirrel)
The article una is used for the feminine singular nouns starting with a consonant.
Examples: una palla (a ball)
una scena (a scene)
As said before, the indefinite feminine form also needs to be elided when followed by a word starting with a vowel: una → un’
Examples: un’ isola (an island)