Why do you say: "che programmi hai per il pomeriggio/l'estate/le vacanze/il fine di settimana" but then "sabato/Capodanno/gennaio etc.? Is there any rule when to use an article? Thank you :)

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    Welcome to Italian.SE, @Krzysztof!
    – Charo
    Mar 30, 2020 at 19:39
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    Thanks, but English is not my native language so I would be confused as well. Is there any rule then?
    – Krzysztof
    Mar 30, 2020 at 19:47
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    @Nico While that is true, the rules are not exactly the same as in English and, even if they were, asking for them here would still be on topic.
    – Denis Nardin
    Mar 30, 2020 at 20:02
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    Let me reiterate that discussion of moderation activities needs to be done on Meta, not on the comments to a question. All futher comments not related to this question will be removed.
    – Denis Nardin
    Mar 30, 2020 at 20:10
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    My question was if there is any rule when to use an article in Italian language with the question I mentioned and not only those several examples I wrote. The comparison to English doesn't help much in my case but thanks anyway. Anybody else knows :)?
    – Krzysztof
    Mar 30, 2020 at 22:46

2 Answers 2


I'll try to write an answer based on what I've found in the book Italiano by Luca Serianni. I hope someone else will improve it.

At section IV.17, referring to definite articles, Serianni explains:

Talvolta la funzione dell'articolo [...] si avvicina a quella di un pronome o aggettivo dimostrativo, rinnovando in parte alcuni usi del dimostrativo latino ĭlle. Ecco i casi più notevoli:

That is,

Sometimes the function of the article [...]  approaches that of a demonstrative pronoun or adjective, renewing in part of some uses of the Latin demonstrative ĭlle. Here are the most notable cases:

Among the cases mentioned, Serianni explains that definite articles whith a role quite similar to that of a demonstrative adjective are used with some temporal expressions (the meaning of the definite articles is explained in square brackets):

d) Con alcune espressioni temporali: «entro la [questa] settimana»; «durante l'[quella] estate vi furono molte novità»; «Ma vedi già come dichina il [questo] giorno» (Dante, Purgatorio, VII 43).

This is what happens with the temporal expression that appears in the question. Namely, "che programmi hai per il pomeriggio?" would essentially mean "che programmi hai per questo pomeriggio?", "che programmi hai per l'estate?" would mean "che programmi hai per questa estate?", "che programmi hai per il fine settimana?" would mean "che programmi hai per questo fine settimana?", etc.

However, at section IV.72, Serianni mentions that the article is not used in many cases. In the list of instances given, the only one which fits the expression given in the question is this one:

i) Con i nomi dei mesi e dei giorni della settimana [...]: «Aprile finì. Venne maggio» (Montefoschi, Lo sguardo del cacciatore, 91); «se volete... oggi è giovedì... domenica vi dico in chiesa» (Manzoni, I Promessi Sposi, XXX-VIII 21). Ma l'articolo può figurare quando il nome è accompagnato da una determinazione («Era il maggio odoroso» Leopardi, A Silvia, 13; «Era il giovedì grasso» Nievo) ed è obbligatorio quando il costrutto ha valore distributivo (cfr. IV.20).

My translation:

i) With the names of months and days of the week [...]:«Aprile finì. Venne maggio» (Montefoschi, Lo sguardo del cacciatore, 91); «se volete... oggi è giovedì... domenica vi dico in chiesa» (Manzoni, I Promessi Sposi, XXX-VIII 21). But the article may appear when the name is accompanied by a determination («Era il maggio odoroso» Leopardi, A Silvia, 13; «Era il giovedì grasso» Nievo) and it is mandatory when the construction has a distributive value (see IV.20).

That's why one says "che programmi hai per sabato?", "che programmi hai per gennaio?", etc.

It doesn't appear in the book, but it seems to me that something similar happens with the name of some festivities, that is, that some of them are usually written without article (Natale, Capodanno, Ferragosto, Pasqua, ...), whereas other ones are usually written with a definite article (il Primo Maggio, il Giorno della Repubblica, il Giorno della Memoria, ...). This would be the reason why one says, for instance, "che programmi hai per Capodanno?" or "che programmi hai per Natale?", written without the definite article.

In addition to all this, there are other cases in which the definitive article may be used in the expression which appears in the question for other reasons. This happens with a noun phrase used to express something that is felt as unique or specific and individual, such as in this example

Che programmi hai per il giorno del ventesimo anniversario di tuo figlio?

and, as explained at section IV.60 of Serianni's book, with years, for instance

Che programmi hai per il 2021?

So, the general idea would be that, with the time expression that appears in the question, the definite article is used except for some cases of names which are written without an article, such as the names of months, days of the week and some festivities.

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    I have made my answer community wiki in the hope some other users may improve it.
    – Charo
    Apr 1, 2020 at 10:32
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    I don't think this is related to festivities. In "il primo maggio" the article is required by the date (as it would be in "il due maggio, which is not a festivity). In "il giorno" it's the word "giorno" that triggers the article, as in "il giorno del mio matrimonio", which is not a festivity either.
    – Nico
    Apr 1, 2020 at 10:50

If one takes into consideration your examples, the conclusion is that articles are required for periods of the day (morning etc.) and seasons, but not for months or days of the week. However, with regard to the latter two cases articles are required in contexts of specification: "il gennaio del 2010" (literally "the January of 2010") or "il sabato in cui tu non venisti" ("the Saturday in which you didn't come"). A short remark due to other observations in "Meta". The question pins down to the use of the article with regard to expressions of time. There is linguistically no "reason" why Italian generally uses articles with parts of the day, but not with months. The only phenomenon that can be explained is the one that I describe above and that relates to specification.

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    This looks more like a comment than a documented answer.
    – user4354
    Mar 31, 2020 at 14:23

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