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Italian Language/use of the definite article


Dear Maria,

Can you please explain why the definite article is included before the word “appartamento” in the following sentence:

Io abito nell’appartamento otto.
I live in apartment 8.

Would it be possible to say:

Io abito in appartamento otto.
I live in apartment 8.

Thank you



Dear Rich,

the definite article is included before the word “appartamento” in the  sentence: “Io abito nell’appartamento otto” (I live in apartment 8) because the sentence intends to specify  which apartment I live in, i.e.  the number 8.

Therefore it would not  be possible to say:”Io abito in appartamento otto” which would be a mere calque of the English phrase “I live in apartment 8” and thus it would be absolutely wrong in Italian.

We use the simple preposition “in” instead of its articulated forms “nel”/”nella”, etc. only when the noun is not followed by any detail.

For example, we say :”Vivo in appartamento, non in una villa”, “Vado spesso in barca”, “Ho visto quel film in televisione”, “Viaggio spesso in treno, meno spesso in autobus”, etc.

But it is correct to say:”Mi trovo nell’appartamento di mio fratello”, “Ora sono nell’albergo che si trova di fronte alla stazione”, “Vieni a trovarmi nella casa al mare”, etc.just because the sentences contain some details that specify the nouns "appartamento", "casa" and "albergo".

Best regards,


Italian Language

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

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