Italian definite articles: printable exercises pdf | ELLCI

Italian definite articles


Italian definite articles

Today we present the definite articles, one of the very first topics that are studied in Italian. But since not all that glitters is gold, we also know that it is one of the most difficult things to acquire even at higher levels, a real nightmare for many students.

In some languages, in fact, the articles are less important, few, or even non-existent. In others, they follow rules that are different from those of the Romance languages, which in turn have a different grammatical structure and although often the vocabulary is similar, when it comes to grammar one must always be careful.

In Italian you have to juggle 7 definite articles, those that in English would be translated as a simple “the”. Like that:


Il gatto = the cat

La sedia = the chair

I biscotti = the cookies

Le scarpe = the shoes

L’arancia = the orange

Gli aerei = the airplanes

Lo stivale = the boot


Crazy, uh!

Italian definite articles: exercises in pdf

The Italian works that “everything has to go together”. Indeed, we do not like to fight. And therefore, if a noun is singular feminine, we must accompany it with a singular feminine article. If a noun is masculine plural, of course, it will want its masculine plural article. The concordance between article, noun, adjective and verb is basic. And so on. But let’s go in order and help us with this table:

ARTICOLI MASCHILI SINGOLARI (masculine singular articles) ARTICOLI MASCHILI PLURALI (masculine plural articles)



(feminine singular article)


(feminine singular article)



You got it? No?

Let’s see.




It is used in front of singular masculine nouns:


il telefono – the phone

il ragazzo – the guy

il tram  – the tram




It is used in front of plural masculine nouns:


i telefoni – the phones

i ragazzi – the guys

i tram – the trams




It is used in front of masculine nouns in the singular starting with s + consonant, gn, ps, z, x, y:


lo stormo – the flock of birds

lo studente – the student

lo sport – the sport

lo gnomo – the gnome

lo psicologo – the psychologist

lo zaino – the backpack

lo xilofono – the xylophone

lo yogurt – the yogurt


(very few words begin with x and y, letters that do not fall within the Italian alphabet).



It is used in front of masculine nouns in the plural that begin with s + consonant, gn, os, z, x, y. In short, “gli” is the plural of “lo”:


gli stormi

gli studenti

gli sport

gli gnomi

gli psicologi

gli zaini

gli xilofoni

gli yogurt




It is used in front of feminine singular nouns:


la ragazza – the girl

la macchina – the car

la sveglia – the alarm




It is used in front of singular feminine nouns:


le ragazze – the girls

le macchine – the cars

le sveglie – the alarms




It is used in front of masculine or feminine nouns, in the singular, starting with a vowel:


l’arancia (f) – the orange (f)

l’arancio (m) – orange (noun)

l’elefantessa (f) – the elephant (f)

l’elefante (m) – the elephant (noun)

l’ipocondriaco (m) – the hypochondriac (m)

l’ipocondriaca (f) – the hypochondriac (f)

l’ottone (m) – the brass (m)

l’uovo (m, irregolare) – the egg (m, irregular)

l’armadio (m) – the wardrobe (m)

l’unica/o (m/f) – the only one (m / f)

l’istrice (m) porcupine (m)


And the plural, how is it done in this case?


For feminine words, we will have to use “LE”


le arance (frutta)

le elefantesse

le ipocondriache (aiuto!)

le uova (plurale irregolare)

le uniche


for the male ones “GLI” (please!).


gli aranci (alberi)

gli elefanti

gli ipocondriaci (peggio!)

gli ottoni

gli armadi

gli unici

gli istrici


Ok, let’s say that the form is quite clear and you have to, alas, memorize it with a lot of practice.

But when are definite articles used? Even this question does not always have an easy answer.

The definite articles do not have an autonomous meaning, but they are fundamental in determining the noun they are combined with. And often they are also combined with prepositions, another reason to study them systematically. They are generally used to indicate something defined, already known to the interlocutor. Let’s take some examples:

  • ho visto un gatto (generico, un gatto qualsiasi, nessuno lo conosce). Il gatto era nero (ora sappiamo che parliamo del gatto che ho visto e che nessuno conosceva). I saw a cat (generic, any cat, nobody knows him). The cat was black (now we know that we are talking about the cat I saw and that nobody knew).
  • Ho guardato nel frigo (in + il = nel) e non ho trovato l’insalata (l’unico frigo che ho in casa – non trovo l’insalata che ho comprato, so di cosa parlo) I looked in the fridge (in + il = in) and I didn’t find the salad (the only fridge I have in the house – I can’t find the salad I bought, I know what I’m talking about)
  • Hai visto lo spettacolo? (dai, quello di cui abbiamo parlato prima, lo sai, no?) Have you seen the show (come on, the one we talked about earlier, you know, right?)

There are other ways to use it, for example:

  • quando parliamo di una classe di nomi in generale, di una specie o di una categoria: il leone vive in branco when we talk about a class of names in general, a species or a category: the lion lives in a pack
  • quando ci riferiamo a una cosa unica: il sole dista dalla terra circa 147 milioni di chilometri when we refer to a single thing: the sun is about 147 million kilometers from the earth
  • davanti ai nomi di continenti, nazioni e regioni: L’Europa, la Danimarca, la Lombardia in front of the names of continents, nations and regions: Europe, Denmark, Lombardy
  • davanti ai nomi geografici (fiumi, laghi, montagne…): il Po, la valle d’Itria, il lago Maggiore in front of geographical names (rivers, lakes, mountains …): the Po, the Itria valley, Lake Maggiore
  • davanti ai nomi che indicano le lingue: lo spagnolo, l’italiano, il tedesco in front of the names that indicate the languages: Spanish, Italian, German.

Attention, the article is not used:

– in the lists: ho comprato pane, latte, uova, zucchero e patate I bought bread, milk, eggs, sugar and potatoes

– in expressions introduced by “con” or “senza”: le persone vanno trattate con gentilezza, senza rancore people must be treated with kindness, without rancor.

– In some proverbs or idioms: botte buona fa buon vino; chi è bugiardo è ladro! Good barrel makes good wine; who is a liar is a thief!

In any case, we urge you, at the expense of what has been said so far, not to worry excessively about grammar, do not be blocked by doubts and fears. Feel free to express yourself, to communicate, to launch your message … there is a whole life to perfect yourself!

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