Italian indefinite articles: un, una, un’ and uno

Italian indefinite articles (a, an) come in the forms un, una, un’, and uno. These forms change depending on the gender of the noun – whether it’s masculine or feminine – and also on the first sound of the noun.

Masculine or feminine?

Remember that every noun in Italian is either masculine or feminine, and the articles that you use with them depend on the gender of the noun. The basic forms of Italian indefinite articles are un (masculine) and una (feminine.)

  • un bicchiere
    a cup
  • un computer
    a computer
  • una bottiglia
    a bottle
  • una donna
    a woman
una → un’

Before nouns that begin with a vowel sound, una becomes un’ to avoid having two vowel sounds right next to each other. Masculine un doesn’t change since it already ends in a consonant, not a vowel like una.

  • un’italiana
    an Italian woman
  • un italiano
    an Italian man
  • un espresso
    an espresso
  • un’arancia
    an orange
un → uno

In front of nouns beginning with s + another consonant (st, sp, etc.) or z, masculine un becomes uno. This is also to avoid too many similar sounds in a row, in this case a bunch of consonants.

  • uno studente
    a (male) student
  • uno spagnolo
    a Spanish man
  • uno zucchero
    a [packet of] sugar
  • uno specchio
    a mirror

You don’t have to worry about this with feminine nouns, since you’ve already got the -a there to break things up.

  • una studentessa
    a (female) student
  • una strada
    a street

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