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Indefinite article in Italian (articolo indeterminativo) and how it works

 

In our latest blog post we learned about the Italian definite article. This week we are going to focus on the indefinite article.

The Italian indefinite article (l’articolo indeterminativo) corresponds to the English a/an as well as to the number one. It is placed before the noun to indicate a generic, uncountable noun and it is also used with common names or last names to indicate a work of art.

 

Examples:

I ladri hanno rubato un Picasso. // The thieves stole a Picasso.

Il mio dipinto preferito è un Botticelli. // My favourite painting is a Botticelli.

articolo indeterminativo

The grammar rule

The grammar rule that regulates the indefinite article is quite simple and very similar to the one that regulates the definitive article. In Italian the indefinite article needs to agree in gender (masculine or feminine) with the noun that follows and what article to use depends also on which letter the noun starts with. Unlike the definite article, the indefinite article is exclusively used with singular nouns.

MASCULINE

UNO à Uno gnomo // A gnome
UN à Un albero // A tree

 

FEMININE

UNA à Una pizza // A pizza
UN’ à Un’aquila // An eagle

 

Uno is used for all the masculine nouns starting with s + consonant, ps, pn, z, x, y or gnun is used for all the other masculine words.

Una is used for the feminine nouns starting with a consonant

Un’ (un + apostrophe) is used for feminine words starting with a vowel.

Examples:

UNO

Uno studio // A study
Uno psichiatra // A psychiatrist
Uno pneumatico // A tyre
Uno zaino // A backpack
Uno xilofono // A xylophone
Uno yogurt // a yogurt
Uno gnocco // a dumpling

UN

Un quadro // A painting
Un l
etto / A bed
Un p
appagallo / A parrot
Un u
ovo / An egg
Un artista / an artist
Un aeroporto / An airport 

UNA

Una scatola // A box
Una matita // A pencil
Una bicicletta // A bike

UN’

Un’ alba // A sunrise
Un’orca // A killer whale

When the indefinite article is not required

The indefinite article is generally used in Italian when a/an is used in English, but there are some specific cases where the indefinite article is used in English, but is not required in Italian.

 

Examples:

With the words cento (hundred) and mille (thousand)

Te l’ho detto cento volte! // I told you a hundred times!

Mille dollari // A thousand dollars.

 

When you translate a few (qualche) or a lot (molti)

Ho qualche moneta // I have a few coins.

Non abbiamo molti soldi // We don’t have a lot of money.

 

In exclamations with che (what)

Che sopresa! // What a surprise!

Che peccato! // What a pity!

When the plural is implied

As already mentioned, the indefinite article doesn’t have a plural form, however the plural can be implied in two ways: by completely omitting the article or by using the partitive article, such as qualchealcuni, or un pò di.

 

Examples:

Guardo serie TV tutto il giorno // I watch TV series all day long.

Non mangio formaggi // I do not eat cheese.

Per colazione preferisco tè e un pò di biscotti // For breakfast I prefer tea and some biscuits.

 

The Challenge

In the previous post I challenged you to find all the definitive articles in the recipe of a delicious Italian dessert – panna cotta ai frutti di bosco. This time I want you to test your knowledge using the recipe of a traditional Italian dish d’autunno (autumn) – yes, l’estate (summer) is officially over: risotto ai funghi porcini (porcini mushroom risotto).

First, read the text twice and underline all the indefinite articles, then check against the key solution below.

RISOTTO AI FUNGHI PORCINI

 

THE RECIPE

RISOTTO AI FUNGHI PORCINI

Ricetta per 6 persone

 

Ingredienti

1 litro brodo vegetale

4 funghi porcini freschi

480 g riso Vialone nano o Carnaroli

uno scalogno

prezzemolo

vino bianco secco

burro

formaggio grana grattugiato

olio extravergine di oliva

sale quanto basta

pepe quanto basta

 

Preparazione

 

  1. Iniziate pulendo i funghi freschi, spazzolandoli delicatamente o strofinandoli con un panno umido in modo da eliminare i residui di terra. Assolutamente non lavare i funghi con l’acqua.

 

  1. Tagliate i funghi in dadini e saltatene 3/4 in una padella con 2 cucchiai di olio, un ciuffo di prezzemolo tritato, sale e pepe per 4-5 minuti.

 

  1. In una casseruola rosolate lo scalogno a fettine in 3 cucchiai di olio di oliva; dopo 2-3 minuti unite il riso e tostatelo per poco meno di un minuto, sfumate con mezzo bicchiere di vino bianco, lasciate evaporare, quindi unite il brodo, poco per volta, mescolando costantemente.

 

  1. Dopo 12-13 minuti aggiungete i funghi precedentemente saltati, mantecate con una noce di burro e 2 cucchiai di grana e dopo un minuto spegnete.

 

Buon appetito!

 

Key solution

Ingredienti. uno scalogno

  1. un panno umido
  2. una padella / un ciuffo di prezzemolo
  3. una casseruola / un minuto
  4. una noce di burro / un minuto

Well done! You are now ready to welcome September and the new season in the most Italian way you can think of: cooking and eating this mouth-watering risotto.

Tricks to make an authentic risotto

Not only risotto ai funghi porcini is a warm, creamy and comforting dish, but it is also a proper gourmet specialty. The perfect meal for a gloomy and chilly day of autumn!

Making risotto ai funghi porcini is pretty simple: all you need to master this recipe is good quality ingredients and a little bit of patience. 😉 Bear in mind that the perfect risotto has to be creamy in consistency, the texture al dente and the grains should be separated from each other (see the picture for reference). If you want to feel lush, shave some truffle on top of it. So delicious!

I would also recommend accompanying your meal with a glass of good red wine: Barbera from Piedmont region or Sangiovese from Emilia-Romagna perfectly pair with porcini mushrooms. Enjoy!

* FUN FACT*

Did you know that porcini mushrooms were very popular in Ancient Rome? With their nutty, earthy and meatiness flavour and texture, porcini mushrooms have been a favourite on the tables of the Italic peoples for thousands of years!

Roman aristocrats loved to serve them during their never-ending lavish feasts. At that time mushrooms were so much appreciated that they were called “food of the gods” and there were even crafted laws prohibiting commoners from eating them.

Moreover, given that some mushrooms can be poisonous and even deadly, Romans used to hire experienced mushrooms foragers and food taster to assure that this delicacy was safe to offer to their guests. A pretty smart move! 😉

Do you want to learn more Italian language with cooking?

Subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaVwBqct6-Tb1swX4s_9-1A  and learn the basics of Italian and how to make authentic Italian meatballs in tomato sauce, pizza, ciambellone (Grandma’s cake) and much more!

Grazie mille!

Raffaella

 

Raffaella Palumbo

Passionate about languages & good food. I hold a Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and French, a Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication for Business and Professions and the CLTA teaching certificate. My hobby is chasing the sun around the globe. My favourite quote: “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way” (Frank Smith)

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