Duolingo Italian: Basics 1.1

4 Oct

Since that last post really helped me get my thoughts together, I’ve decided to do a series of posts on what you are meant to learn in each duolingo lesson and try to explain any issues that might arise or any trick I’ve learnt. I have no background in language, so most of this will be my explorations into a language (and therefore is not likely to be always right). Sort of what I do with maths research, but with an already well researched language. So to start with, Duolingo Italian, Basics 1.1.

In this lesson you learn basic nouns (man, woman, boy, girl and apple) , articles (the and a, both masculine and feminine) and a verb (is/am/are). In Italian, you always need the article for a noun. There are a few times where it appears you don’t need article, but often the article is hiding in another word (e.g. nel is “in the”, no additional article needed)

L’uomo: the man. L’ is the masculine article used when the noun begins with a vowel (it is also the feminine article for when the noun begins with a vowel). Uomo is man.

La donna: The woman. La is the feminine article used when the noun begins with a consonant, donna is woman. Think like prima donna (the main woman in an opera).

Il ragazzo: the boy, or the child. Il is the most commonly used masculine article and it is used with most consonants. Ragazzo is boy. Note that both uomo and ragazzo end in o: the is a good sign that the word you are dealing with is masculine (and singular)

La ragazza: the girl. The same feminie article as for donna, ragazza is girl. See how similar it is to ragazzo (boy?), that is because they are essentially the same word, but the a ending makes it feminine. You can think of it as the female child.

La mela: The apple. Mela is a femine word (it ends in a)

Un / una: these articles are equivalent to a or an in English. You use un when it is a masculine noun, such as uomo or ragazzo and una when it is a feminine noun, like ragazza, donna or apple.

Io: I. As in I am a girl (in Italian, Io sono una ragazza)

Sono: I am. Another trick I’ve learnt in Italians that that verbs that end in the letter o, often refer to yourself (i.e. if you mean to say I <verb> something, that verb will end in o). This means that you can (and often) just leave of the Io and just say Sono una ragazza.


(These summaries include words that haven’t been covered yet, but I know it confuses me if I don’t see all the forms of the words to start of with, so I’m going to just list them here):



Article Gender/plural Use Italian example
Il Masculine singular When the noun starts with most consonants Il ragazzo
L’ Masculine/feminine singular When the noun starts with a vowel L’uomo
Lo Masculine singular When the noun starts with s+ consonant, z, gn, x, y, ps, pn, i+vowel Lo squalo
La Feminine singular When the noun starts with a consonant La donna
L’ Feminine/masculine singular When the noun starts with a vowel L’insalata
I Masculine plural When the noun starts with most consonant and is plural (e.g. where you use il in the singular) L’insalata
Gli Masculine plural When the noun starts with a vowel or some consonants  and is plural (i.e. where you use l’ or lo for the singular) L’insalata
Le Feminine plural Anytime! (as long as it is a feminine plural noun) L’insalata


The man (always masculine)

Article noun plural English
L’uomo Singular The man
Gli uomi Plural The men

The woman (always feminine)

Article noun Plural English
La donna Singular The woman
Le donne Feminine plural The women

The child

Article noun plural/gender English
Il ragazzo Masculine singular The child or the boy
La ragazza Feminine singular The girl
I ragazzi Masculine plural The children or the boys
Le ragazze Feminine plural The girls

The apple (feminine)

Article noun plural/gender English
La mela Feminine singular The apple
Le mele Plural The apples


Essere (apparently, I haven’t yet seen this verb being used, apparently it means to be or to exists)

Person Present Example (Italian) Example (English)
io sono Sono una ragazza I am a girl
tu sei Sei una ragazza (informal) You are a girl
Lei sei Lei una ragazza (formal) You are a girl
lui/lei è Lei è una ragazza She is a girl
noi siamo Siamo le ragazze We are girls
voi siete Siete le ragazze (informal) They are girls
Loro sono Loro sono le ragazze (formal) They are girls

Note that Lei and Loro are the formal versions of you and they and should be captialised, note that sometimes  verb changes depending if you are using the form they (Loro sono) or informal they (Voi siete)

Additional resources for this post:

Cyber Italian: I was using this site to get all my articles and noun genders right.

Effective Language learning: This explained to me what was going on with formal and informal verbs


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