What is the difference between asking

  1. Si può cogliere la uva nella tua fattoria?
    Can one pick the(?) grapes in your farm?


  1. Si può cogliere uva nella tua fattoria?
    Can one pick grapes in your farm?
    Are there grapes to be picked in your farm?

I've constructed these examples, so I don't even know if they are proper Italian. Please let me know if my provided English translations are not correct.

Does (1) affirm the existence of the grapes in the farm, and (2) does not? Or does "la" in (1) have a "generic", "universal" reference?

  • 5
    Independently on the specific subject of your question, your examples sound a bit off. Did you conceive them or did you find them somewhere? As an Italian, I'd never say “Si può togliere le tue uve dal tuo vigneto?” but rather, say, “Possiamo prendere l'uva dalla tua vigna?” (if that's what you meant).
    – DaG
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 7:08
  • 2
    To add a reference to what said by @DaG: the deAgostini vocabulary says the plural uve is exclusively used for different varieties of grapes, and not a plurality of grapes.
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 8:01
  • @DaG I've added a better example.
    – Geremia
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


In general the definite article is used to indicate a precise (positive) thing, sometimes already mentioned in the same utterance, and to indicate its number:

"I cani abbaiano" (the dogs bark) means "all the dogs do bark" or, implicitly in a different context, "our dogs (out there) are barking".

"Cani abbaiano", without the article, or with an indeterminate one ("dei cani abbaiano") is a form more vague, uncertain. In an affirmative phrase is used to say that we hear barking, but we knows little more. If asking "ci sono cani che abbaiano?" the meaning could be "I am hearing something that seems as few dogs barking", or "is it possible that a dog barks? Does it exist even a single dog who barks?".

In your question, it happens that uva is a special term (also pointed out in comments), like "frutta" (fruits, but really "all the fruits, all the kinds of fruit"), "latte" (milk) and similar. Those nouns are not really countable, and the plural form is little used when it exists. They are indeterminate by nature (or, better, they are generic) even when the definite article is used.

So, asking about "cogliere uva" o "cogliere l'uva" is really the same, as would be with latte or frutta.

A little difference can be expressed in affirmative phrases: "io colgo uva" (I harvest grapes) is really generic, just to specify grapes instead of apples. "io colgo l'uva" can mean the same as before, or instead "I harvest my own grapes, after a year of work".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.