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Question
Dear Maria,

Can you please tell me why the definite article is included before the word “peltro” in the following sentence, but is not included before the word “stagno”.

“Il peltro è composto di una lega a base di stagno e altri metalli.”

[The reason that I am asking is because I thought that the definite article is used in front of the names of specific categories of materials such as minerals, metals, alloys, and chemicals.  Since “stagno” is a metal -  I thought it would require a definite article.]

Thank you very much for your help.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

the definite article is included before the word “peltro”, but is not included before the word “stagno” in the sentence:“Il peltro è composto di una lega a base di stagno e altri metalli” because “Il peltro” is the subject of the phrase, while “di  stagno” is an indirect object depending on the “locuzione prepositiva” “a base di” that cannot be followed by an articulated preposition such as e.g.”dello” in this context, i.e. “dello stagno e degli altri metalli” that would sound absolutely strange in Italian!

See for example:
-”Ho mangiato un ottimo dolce a base di frutta”
-“Devi preparare una bevanda a base di acqua e zucchero”
-“Ho bevuto una buonissima bibita a base di anguria”
Etc.

As you can see, the fact that the “stagno” is a metal does not oblige to always use the definite article, as this depends on the context, so that we say “LO stagno è un metallo”, but “Il peltro è una lega a base DI stagno e altri metalli”.


Hope this helps.
Best,
Maria  

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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