This lesson is about Italian words for food and drink, and also covers definite articles and plurals.
Look at the list of food words at the bottom of this page. You’ll see the singular form, the plural form and an English translation.
Do you see how the endings change in the plural? For example:
il pomodoro (the tomato), i pomodori (the tomatoes)
And that this is different for masculine and feminine? For example:
la patata (the potato), le patate (the potatoes)
A good starting point is to work out whether a word is masculine or feminine.
Most words ending in -a are feminine, while most words ending in -o are masculine.
Knowing that, you’ll need to choose the correct definite article.
In English, the definite article is always ‘the’.
But in Italian there are specific definite articles for masculine and feminine nouns.
And confusingly these are different for singular and plural too!
So, ‘the’ in English could be:
– masculine singular nouns: il
(but l’ before words beginning with a vowel and lo before some words beginning with s- or certain other letters and a following consonant)
– masculine plural nouns: i
(but gli before words beginning with a vowel or before some words beginning with s- or certain other letters and a following consonant)
– feminine singular nouns: la
(or l’ before words beginning with a vowel)
– feminine plural nouns: le
It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?
Try organising the following list of words into groups according to whether they are masculine and feminine.
Then make lists in each group according to which definite article is used.
This might take you half and hour or so, but will help consolidate the rules for ‘the’ and plurals, so is an excellent investment of your time!
il peperone, i peperoni – pepper(s) ‘FALSE FRIEND’ WARNING! (‘pepperoni’ is not a sausage in Italian)
il pomodoro, i pomodori – tomato(es)
gli spinaci – spinach
la lattuga – lettuce
la rucola – rocket
la zucchina, le zucchine – courgette(s) / zucchini
il cetriolo, i cetrioli – cucumber(s)
la cipolla, le cipolle – onion(s)
l’aglio – garlic
l’oliva, le olive – olive(s)
il broccolo, i broccoli -broccoli
il fagiolo, i fagioli – bean(s)
il mais – sweetcorn
la patata, le patate – potato(es)
la carota, le carote – carrot(s)
il fungo, i funghi – mushroom(s)
la zucca, le zucche – pumpkin(s)
l’insalata, le insalate – salad(s)
la fragola, le fragole – strawberry(ies)
il limone, i limoni – lemon(s)
l’arancia, le arance – orange(s)
la banana, le banane – banana(s)
l’uva – grapes
la mela, le mele – apple(s)
la ciliegia, le ciliegie – cherry(ies)
la pesca, le pesche – peach(es)
il lampone, i lamponi – raspberry(ies)
la bacca, le bacche – berry(ies)
la pera, le pere – pear(s)
la prugna, le prugne -plum(s) ‘FALSE FRIEND’ WARNING! (‘prunes’ in English are dried plums)
la bibita, le bibite – drink(s)
il caffè, i caffè – coffee(s)
il tè, i tè – tea(s)
il succo, i succhi – juice(s)
la spremuta, le spremute – freshly squeezed fruit juice(s)
lo spumante, gli spumanti – sparkling wine
il vino bianco/rosso, i vini – white/red wine(s)
il ghiaccio – ice
l’acqua – water
il latte – milk
il cornetto, i cornetti – croissant(s)
lo strudel, gli strudel – strudel(s)
il dessert, i dessert – desserts
la carne, le carni – meat(s)
il pesce, i pesci – fish
il tonno, i tonni – tuna
il pollo, i polli – chicken(s)
il prosciutto, i prosciutti – ham(s)
la salsiccia, le salsicce – sausage(s)
il riso – rice
lo spaghetto, gli spaghetti – spaghetti
la tagliatella, le tagliatelle – tagliatelle
la lasagna, le lasagne – lasagne
il toast, i toast – toasted sandwich(es) ‘FALSE FRIEND’ WARNING! (a snack, not a breakfast food)
il formaggio, i formaggi – cheese(s)
la marmellata, le marmellate – jam(s) ‘FALSE FRIEND’ WARNING! (marmelade IS jam in Italian!)
il brodo, i brodi – soup(s)
la farina, le farine – flour(s)
l’uovo, le uova – egg(s)
il pane – bread
il gelato, i gelati – icecream(s)
la torta, le torte – cake(s)
la panna, le panne – cream
Confused? Perhaps some practice exercises would help?