There’s only one Italian masculine definite article left – which we haven’t learned yet – which is “lo”.

Many students of the Italian language find the rules for applying “lo” a bit difficult.

Hopefully this lesson will help you to master “lo”.

  • “Lo” is a masculine definite article (equivalent to “the” in English, along with “il” and “la”) which means that it can only be used before masculine-gendered Italian nouns.
  • “Lo” is a “special” article that can only be used before nouns with specific initial letters. “Lo” can only be used with words that begin with “gn”, “pn”, “ps”, x”, “y” or “z”, and furthermore it’s used with every single noun that begins with an s and that is followed by a consonant (for example every Italian noun beginning with “sc” will need “lo” for a definite article).
  • If an Italian noun begins with any of the above letters and finishes with the characteristic masculine ending “o”, then probably our noun will be masculine, and you’ll have to use “lo” with it. So, for example we say “la yogurteria” (an ice cream/yogurt shop), not “lo yogurteria”, because “yogurteria” is feminine and not masculine.
  • Note, words ending in “e” are also usually masculine, so you’ll also need “lo” with these if they start with any of the above letters.

 

“Gnome” in Italian

Lo gnomo in Italian means the gnome.

Lo gnomo

The “gn” here is a bit tricky for English speakers, especially at the start of a word. It’s the same sound as the “gn” in “lasagne”.

“Tire” in Italian

Lo pneumatico in Italian means the tire.

Lo pneumatico

Note that the “p” in “pneumatico” is pronounced, unlike with the related word “pneumatic” in English, where it’s silent.

Lo psicologo means the psychologist.

Lo psicologo

“Xylophone” in Italian

Lo xilofono is Italian for xylophone.

Lo xilofono

The Italian for “Yogurt”

Lo yogurt is the Italian for yoghurt.

Lo yogurt

The Italian for “Sugar”

Lo zucchero in Italian means the sugar.

Lo zucchero

The “h” is there after the “c” because otherwise, “ce” would be pronounced like “ch” in English.

“Student” in Italian

Lo studente in Italian means the student.

Lo studente

Exercises

Say out each of the following out loud.

  1. lo gnocco
  2. lo pneumatico
  3. lo psicologo
  4. lo xilofono
  5. lo yogurt
  6. lo zucchero
  7. lo studente

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