The case of Italian Coffee Drinking Traditions and The Indefinite article un/uno/una/un’

As I have mentioned previously in the  Engl0121 Foreign Language (1) course, I have selected a course in Italian over Future Learn as part of its Programs. I shall be posting about my course progress and experience over The Learning Italian category.


Continuing the first week, we have been introduced to Italian Coffee and its Drinking Traditions. It’s different than other culture, as they are very specific about it.

  • For example, If you ask for un caffè, you will be served an espresso coffee.
  • caffèristretto is an espresso which is even more concentrated than usual.
  • An espresso with a tiny amount of milk is a macchiato, sometimes described as a macchiato caldo (if the milk is hot) or a macchiato freddo (if the milk is cold).
  • You might like to try a caffè corretto, a coffee with a drop of a spirit or liqueur such as grappa in it.
  • For Italians un cappuccino is a morning drink only, never taken after a meal.
  • If you want a long coffee, you should ask for un caffè americano.
  • Another milky but not so frothy coffee is un caffelatte, which is sometimes served in hotels at breakfast.

Such important fact of coffee in Italian life that some customers pay for two coffees, one to drink themselves and one paid for in advance as a charitable act for anyone in need who might drop in hoping for a free coffee – the so-called caffè sospeso.


The second topic of this lesson was The Indefinite article un/uno/una/un’ or the Italian equivalent of the English ‘a’ or ‘an’ (the indefinite article) is either ununouna or un. The form depends on whether the noun is masculine or feminine and whether it starts with a vowel (aeiou) or a consonant.


Masculine nouns

Use un with most masculine nouns.

un bicchiere a glass

un aperitivo an aperitif


Use uno before a masculine noun beginning with s + consonant (for example sc-, sp-).

uno scontrino a receipt

uno spuntino a snack


Use uno before a masculine noun beginning with gnpnpsxz, or with ior y followed by another vowel.

uno zio an uncle

uno yogurt a yogurt

Feminine nouns

Use una with a feminine noun beginning with a consonant.

una birra a beer

una pizza a pizza


Use un’ before a feminine noun beginning with a vowel.

un’aranciata an orangeade

un’acqua minerale a mineral water


That was it for the drinks and articles, the next lesson will be learning Ordering drinks and snacks.

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