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.

Read More »

Introduction to Italian Nouns and their gender

Different than the English language, Itlain has different grammatical concepts regarding nouns. All Italian nouns – not just people and animals – have a gender; they are either masculine or feminine.

Knowing the gender of nouns is important since it determines the form of the article ‘the’ or ‘a’ that you use with them and the form of the adjectives that describe them.

Nouns ending in -o are usually masculine:

un aperitivo an aperitif

uno spuntino a snack

Nouns ending in –a are usually feminine:

una birra a beer

un’aranciata an orangeade

Nouns ending in -e are not so easy:

-some are masculine and some are feminine.
-Where they relate to people, it is easy to guess their gender.

un padre a father (masculine)

una madre a mother (feminine)

But in other cases, you simply have to learn the gender of each noun rather than follow a rule. For example, liquore (liqueur) is masculine but lezione (lesson) is feminine.

Most words imported into Italian from other languages are masculine:

un caffè a coffee

un tè a tea

un toast a toasted sandwich

As for any rule, there are exceptions which you will meet later. If in doubt, a dictionary will tell you the gender of each word.

Foreign Language a Selective course in Italian

As for my Engl0121 Foreign Language (1), 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

Italian for Beginners

Course description:
This program of six free online Italian courses, created by The Open University, will help you develop your skills in Italian at a basic level, and introduce you to Italy and its language and culture.

I have finished the first week of learning the stage one. To enrol, please visit Italian for Beginners.