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Italian Language/use of "latte" and "latti"

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Question
Dear Maria,

Would you please tell me if I am correct in thinking that the noun “latte” (milk) is both a “count noun” as in “latti” and a “non-count noun” as in “latte”.

Can you also please tell me if it would be acceptable to say - “due latti” (two milks).

Sometimes, in English one might informally say “two milks” when referring to two glasses of milk, two cartons of milk, etc.  I was wondering if this might also occur in Italian.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,


the plural of  the noun “latte” is “latti”, though the plural is not so common as it  is used in some sentences like e.g. :“Questa è la gamma dei nostri latti”, “Esistono latti speciali per neonati”, “Ci sono latti a lunga conservazione e latti freschi”.

Therefore you are  correct in thinking that the noun “latte” (milk) is both a “count noun”, i.e. a noun that can be used in the singular and the plural as in “latti”  and a “non-count noun” as in “latte”.

Anyway, in good Italian “due latti” is not acceptable at all, but it is correct to say “Due bicchieri di latte” (two glasses of milk), “Tre cartoni di latte” or “Tre confezioni di latte” (three cartons of milk), etc.

As you can see, though sometimes in English one might informally say “two milks” when referring to two glasses of milk, two cartons of milk, etc., this cannot  also occur in  good Italian.

Moreover, whereas in English one says “latte” for “a hot drink made from espresso ( = strong coffee ) and warm milk”, in Italian we call it “caffellatte”, just composed of  “caffè” +  “latte”.

So, when we are in a coffee shop (in Italian, “caffè” or “bar”)  we can  order:

-“un caffellatte” for a hot drink made from  strong coffee  and warm milk;
-“un bicchiere di latte” for a glass of milk ;
-“un latte macchiato” for a glass of milk with a spot of coffee;
-“un cappuccino” for coffee made with milk that has been heated with steam to produce a lot of small bubbles;
-“un  espresso” for a strong coffee;
-“un caffè macchiato” for a strong coffee with a little warm milk;
-“un caffè lungo” for  a weak coffee;
-“un caffè freddo” for a iced coffee;
-“un caffè decaffeinato” for a decaffeinated coffee.


Best regards,

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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