The indefinite article - Easy Learning Grammar Italian
1 The basics
- In English the indefinite article is either a – a boy - or an - an apple.
- In Italian there are four indefinite articles: un, uno, una and un’.
- Which one you need to choose depends on the gender of the noun it goes with, and the letter the noun starts with.
- For more information on Nouns, see Nouns.
2 Which indefinite article do you use?
- The indefinite article to use for masculine nouns is:
- un with nouns starting with most consonants and all vowels.
|un telefonino||a mobile phone|
|un uomo||a man|
- uno with nouns starting with s + another consonant, z, gn, pn, ps, x and y.
|uno studente||a student|
|uno zio||an uncle|
|uno psichiatra||a psychiatrist|
- The indefinite article to use for feminine nouns is:
- una with nouns starting with a consonant.
|una ragazza||a girl|
|una mela||an apple|
- un’ with nouns starting with a vowel.
- Note that the article you choose depends on the first or first two letters of the following word, which can be an adjective or a noun.
|un albergo||a hotel|
|uno splendido albergo||a magnificent hotel|
|uno scultore||a sculptor|
|un bravo scultore||a good sculptor|
3 Using the indefinite article
- You generally use the indefinite article in Italian when a or an are used in English.
|Era con un’amica.||She was with a friend.|
|Vuoi un gelato?||Do you want an ice cream?|
- There are some cases where the article is used in English, but not in Italian:
- with the words cento and mille
|cento volte||a hundred times|
|mille sterline||a thousand pounds|
- when you translate a few or a lot
|qualche parola||a few words|
|molti soldi||a lot of money|
- in exclamations with che
|Che sorpresa!||What a surprise!|
|Che peccato!||What a pity!|
- Note that to say what someone’s job is you either leave out the article:
|È medico.||He’s a doctor.|
|Sono professori.||They’re teachers.|
|Faccio l’ingegnere.||I’m an engineer.|
|Fa l’avvocato.||She’s a lawyer.|
4 Plural nouns used without the article
- There are some cases where you use plural nouns without any article:
- in negative sentences
|Non ha amici.||He hasn’t got any friends.|
|Non ci sono posti liberi.||There aren’t any empty seats.|
- in questions where any is used in English
|Hai fratelli?||Have you got any brothers or sisters?|
|Ci sono problemi?||Are there any problems?|
- in lists
|Ci vogliono patate, cipolle e carote.||You need potatoes, onions and carrots.|
|Vendono giornali, riviste e cartoline.||They sell newspapers, magazines and postcards.|
- when you are not giving details
|Abbiamo visitato castelli e musei.||We visited castles and museums.|
|Ci sono cose da vedere.||There are things to see.|
|Hanno problemi.||They’ve got problems.|
- You generally use the indefinite article in a very similar way to English.
- You do not use it with the numbers cento and mille, and in exclamations with che.
- The indefinite article is not used when saying what someone’s job is.