Italian Language/partitive article


Dear Lauren,  

Can you please help me with the following:

My computer course shows a picture of a class of milk with the following caption written below this picture – “del latte”

I understand that this is an example of the partitive article and the “del latte” means “some milk”.

I was wondering if the caption under this picture of a glass of milk could also have said “il latte” (the milk)  and/or “un latte” (a milk)

Can you please tell me if it is also acceptable to say “il latte” and “un latte”.

I was also wondering if the caption could have just been “latte” (without any article.  Is this possible?

The reason I ask these questions is because I am having difficulty understanding when the partitive article is mandatory.

Thank you



Hi Rich,

Long time no see (well, hear in this case!) Hope you are well.

Yes, 'del latte' is an example of the partitive article and does translate as 'some milk'. I think it would have also been acceptable in this case to use 'il' to make the meaning 'il latte' but I don't think that 'un' would have been appropriate as we would never say 'a milk' in English. I also wouldn't recommend not using the article in this case as when just stating the noun without any sentence, an article must always be used.

As a general rule of thumb, I would recommend using the partitive whenever you come across a sentence that you would use 'some' for in English - e.g. I would like some wine (Vorrei del vino) I bought some flowers (Ho comprato dei fiori) I saw some friends (Ho visto degli amici) etc.

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,

Italian Language

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Lauren O' Hagan


Although not my mother tongue, I have spoken Italian fluently for more than 12 years so I am very confident to answer any questions about the Italian language. I am also competent in Roman Dialect if there are any questions relating to this.


MA Applied Linguistics First Class Honours in Modern Language Studies (Linguistics, Italian, Spanish) Received the top grade in the whole of UK for GCSE Italian, receiving a letter of congratulations from the Italian Consulate Completed my two-year A Level in 1 year with a grade A country. Carried out many translation jobs for a wide range of clients and topics including self-help, literature and exam papers. For personal reference, I have also translated Federico Moccia's Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo and 2 of Francesco Totti's book.

El Pensador, University of Bristol

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Letter of recognition from the Italian consulate MA Applied Linguistics BA Hons Modern Language Studies CELTA qualified C1 CILS C2 DELE

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