How to Say 'Some' in Italian

Learn how to use partitive articles in Italian

Italian man drinking wine at a sidewalk cafe
Cultura RM Exclusive/Antonio Saba

How do you express a quantity that’s uncertain or approximate? If you need to buy SOME pane and a BIT of vino, here you will find an easy explanation on how to appropriately use l'articolo partitivo in Italian. 

The partitive article appears before singular nouns like del miele, del caffè, del burro (some honey, some coffee, some butter) as well as before plural nouns of an unspecified amount dei libri, delle ragazze, degli studenti (some books, some girls, some students).​ 

In the simplest terms, it can be defined as meaning "some," but you may also use it to mean "any" or even "a few" when it is meant to be a rough estimate.

The partitive is expressed by the Italian preposition "di," which typically means "of" or "from," combined with the definite article, like "il" or "le." For example:

  • Lo ho delle cravatte blu. – I have a few blue ties.

  • Lei beve del caffè. – She is drinking some coffee.

  • Lo esco con dei compagni. – I go out with some friends.

  • Lui vuole del burro. – He would like some butter.

  • Noi abbiamo soltanto della zuppa e un paio di cornetti. – We only have some soup and a couple of croissants.

Italian Partitive Articles 

 

Singulare                     

Plurale 

Femminile

della

delle

Femminile (before a vowel)

dell'

delle

Maschile

del

dei

Maschile (before a vowel)

dell'

degli

Maschile (before the letters z, x +consonant, and gn)        

dello

degli

A Little Bit Of: Un po’ Di

However, using a form of the preposition "di" as the partitive article isn’t the only way to express an imprecise amount.

You can also use the expression "un po’ di," which translates to "a bit of," "a little bit of." For example:

  • Vuoi un po’ di zucchero? – Do you want a bit of sugar?

  • Vorrei un po’ di vino rosso. – I would like a little bit of red wine.

  • Aggiungi un po’ di sale e di pepe! – Add a little bit of salt and pepper!

  • Me ne sono andato perché volevo un po’ di pace. – I left because I wanted a bit of peace.

  • Avete dei cibi senza glutine? – Do you have food without gluten?

  • Mi serve un po’ d’acqua per favore? – Could I have a bit of water please?

When to Use the Partitive Article "Di" vs. "Un Po’ Di" 

Imagine this scenario. You walk into a panificio because you need del pane (some bread) and you tell the fornaio:

Do you see the difference there? Del pane is a more general way to say what you want, and you use un po di’ when you want to be more specific. Here's another example, let's think you are going to buy del basilico (some basil):

  • Voglio comprare un po' di basilico – I want to buy a bit of basil.

For a richer, more organic use of the language, you could, instead of using a partitive article or the phrase "un po’ di," use an indefinite pronoun, and practice making sentences with "alcuni" (some), as in "alcuni ragazzi" (some boys, a few boys) or "qualche," as in "qualche piatto" (some dish).