Italian partitive articles

Italian partitive articles are used to talk about an undefined amount of something, just like the English some and a few, and you can find them in both the singular and in the plural. This is why they are called partitive: they refer to only a part of something.

For example, you can say:

Del latte
Some milk

Degli alberi
Some trees

a row of 5 trees and rain

What are the Italian partitive articles? Let’s start with the explanation right away!


How to use the Italian partitive articles

All partitive articles in Italian must be placed before the noun.

Italian partitive articles are formed by combining the preposition di + a definite article. The article is the same one you would normally use for the noun. Literally, this translates to “of the”.

Let’s take a look at a table of all the possible Italian partitive articles.

Dideldellodelladeideglidelle
+illolaiglile

You use:

  • del, dello and della with singular nouns
  • dei, degli and delle with plural nouns.

Ho comprato delle arance.
I bought some oranges.

Vuoi dello zucchero?
Would you like some sugar?

bowl of sugar with a pink spoon

Zucchero is a masculine noun, and since it starts with z-, we know that its definite article is lo. Take a look at the table above and you will see that di + lo forms the partitive article dello.

Remember, Italian partitive articles are used to introduce an indefinite amount of something, which can be an object or a group of people.


Other examples with the Italian partitive articles

Dei leoni stavano riposando sull’erba.
Some lions were resting on the grass.

Ho visto dei ragazzi che gettavano sassi nel fiume.
I saw some boys throwing stones into the river.

Mi servono delle matite nuove.
I need some new pencils.

pack of green pencils

Alcuni and alcune

If the noun is countable and in the plural, you can of course replace the article with alcuni or alcune, depending on its gender. Alcuni is an adjective that means “a few”. If you can’t use “a few”, don’t use “alcuni/e”.

Mi servono alcune matite nuove.
I need some new pencils.

Also, note how the Italian partitive articles can also translate any in questions, because we’re still talking about an uncertain amount of something.

C’è del formaggio in frigo?
Is there any cheese in the fridge?

C’erano dei libri sulla scrivania?
Were there any books on the desk?


Un po’ di

You can replace the partitive articles with the expression un po’ di. You don’t need to add any articles after di.

Vorrei delle caramelle.
Vorrei un po’ di caramelle.
I would like some candy.
(Candies)

Vuoi dell’acqua?
Vuoi un po’ d’acqua?
Would you like some water?

dizzy man drinking a glass of water

More free Italian resources

Now that you’ve seen how the Italian partitive articles work, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

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