Definite articles

In Italian the definite articles have more than one form, because they need to agree in number and gender with the nouns they are used with.
Moreover, they also change according to the first letter of the nouns.
For singular masculine nouns, we have three definite articles: IL, LO and L’ (that is ‘lo’ without o!).
IL goes in front of words beginning with a consonant, with a consonant + L or R, with J and W.
LO goes in front of words beginning with a S + consonant or with CT, FT, GN, MN, PN, PS, X, Y, Z.
L’ goes in front of words beginning with a vowel.
For singular feminine nouns, we have the definite article LA (in front of words beginning with a consonant) or L’ (in front of words beginning with a vowel).
For plural masculine nouns, we have two definite articles: I (same rule as IL) and GLI (same rule as LO and L’).
For plural feminine nouns, we have one definite article: LE.

Definite articleExample
ilil sentiero
lo, l’lo stadio
la, l’la porta
ii sentieri
gligli stadi
gli alberi
lele porte
le altalene

When to use the Italian definite articles

The definite article precedes a specific or previously mentioned noun, as in English. But in Italian the definite article also precedes a noun when speaking in general or referring to general concepts. We also use the definite article when telling time (except for ‘mezzogiorno’ and ‘mezzanotte’) and before a possessive (except when the possessive precedes a singular family related term).

For example:
Give me the pen > dammi la penna
I love nature > amo la natura
It’s ten o’clock > sono le dieci
It’s midday > è mezzogiorno
My book > il mio libro
My husband > mio marito

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