You are here:

Italian Language/use if the definite article after 'tutto"


Dear Maria,  

My question is about the use if the definite article after the indefinite adjective “tutto”.

Several of my text book sources state that when the adjective “tutto” is placed before a noun that “tutto” must be followed by the definite article.  For example – “tutti gli italiani, tutto il giorno, tutto il tuo aiuto, etc.

I have recently encountered the following expression – “a tutta velocità” (at full speed) where the definite article has been omitted.

Can you please tell me if “a tutta velocità” is correct or not.  

I am wondering if I should say - “a tutta la velocità”.

Thank you very much.



Dear Rich,

It is true  that  the adjective “tutto”, when it is placed before a noun, must be followed by the definite article as in for example  “tutti gli Italiani”, “tutto il giorno”, “tutto il tuo aiuto”, etc.

But in the idiomatic  expression  “a tutta velocità” (at full speed), which is definitely correct,  while  “a tutta la velocità” is wrong, the definite article must be omitted.

Please note that in Italian there are  other idiomatic expressions where the adjective “tutto” is not followed by the definite article.

See for example: “a tutta prova” as in “La sua fedeltà è a tutta prova “ just to say that his loyalty is unshakeable ;  “a tutto gas” and  “a tutta birra”, which are synonymous with “a tutta velocità” as in “Siamo scappati a tutto gas”; “Si dirigeva a tutta birra verso una casa poco distante” where both "gas" and "birra" are informal and ​friendly terms to say "velocità" in these idiomatic expressions that have a familiar connotation.

Hope this helps you.

Have a nice day,


Italian Language

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




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


Over 25 years teaching experience.

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

This expert accepts donations:

©2017 All rights reserved.