Languages › Italian When to Use the Partitive Article in Italian Share Flipboard Email Print gilaxia/Getty Images Italian Grammar History & Culture Vocabulary By Michael San Filippo Italian Expert M.A., Italian Studies, Middlebury College B.A., Biology, Northeastern University Michael San Filippo co-wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Italian History and Culture. He is a tutor of Italian language and culture. our editorial process Michael San Filippo Updated November 04, 2019 In Italian grammar, the partitive article (articolo partitivo) is used to introduce an unknown amount. Ho trovato dei fichi a poco prezzo. - I found some cheap figs.A volte passo delle giornate impossibili. - Sometimes I have some impossible days.Vorrei delle mele, degli spinaci e dei pomodori. - I'd like some apples, some spinach, and some tomatoes. The partitive article is formed much like articulated repositions (preposizioni articolate): (di + definite articles). Similar to articulated prepositions, partitive articles vary depending on the gender, number, and the sound that follows. It gets its name from the fact that it normally indicates a part of a set or a whole and is used in Romance languages, such as French and Italian. You Can Also Say... There are no fixed rules for the use of the partitive. You can often get the same meaning by using the words “qualche - some,” “alcuni - some,” and “un po' di - a bit of.” Berrei volentieri del vino. - I would gladly drink some wine.Berrei volentieri un po' di vino. - I would gladly drink a bit of wine.Berrei volentieri vino. - I would gladly drink wine. A distinction is usually made between the use of the singular (much less frequent) and plural (more common). The partitive singular is used for an unspecified amount of an item that’s considered non-countable: Vorrei del vino fruttato. - I would like some fruity wine.I viaggiatori presero della grappa a poco prezzo ed andarono via. - The travelers had some cheap grappa and left. In the plural, however, the partitive indicates an undetermined quantity of a countable element. Ho visto dei bambini. - I saw some children. In this case, the partitive article is treated as a plural form of the indefinite article (articolo indeterminativo). While definite articles have a plural form, indefinite articles do not. Therefore, when referring in general to objects in the plural, use either a partitive article or an (aggettivo indefinito) such as alcuni or qualche (alcuni libri - some books, qualche libro - some books). Some nouns, depending on the context, can be considered both as countable (prendo dei caffè - I’ll have some coffee) and as uncountable (prendo del caffè - I’ll have some coffee). In Italian, in contrast to French, the partitive article can often be omitted. For example, certain combinations of prepositions and partitive articles are not recommended, either because it doesn’t sound good or because of its use combined with abstract words. Ho comprato delle albicocche veramente eccezionali. - I bought some truly outstanding apricots. In this example, it would be preferable to use an adjective (or indicate a certain kind of apricot) with the noun. Where it would be appropriate to omit it, the partitive article can be replaced by an expression that depends on the context. ARTICOLO PARTITIVO SINGOLARE PLURALE MASCHILE del dei dello, dell' degli FEMMINILE della delle How-To Say "Some" in Italian Learn about Italian Indefinite Articles This Is the Reason You Like Listening to Italian How to Use the Tiny Word Ne in Italian How to Use the Preposition "Di" in Italian Italian Phrases for Shopping in Italy Learn How to Use the Preposition "Con" in Italian Italian Possessive Pronouns: Pronomi Possessivi Learn How to Order a Drink in Italian Italian Definite Articles Using the Preposition Da in Italian How to Use the Verb "Volere" in Italian How to Count Italian Numbers Beyond One Hundred Learn to form plural nouns in Italian How to Use the Italian Verb Piacere Days of the Week in Italian: La Settimana!