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Take a look to these examples

mio padre

mia moglie

mia zia

mio suocero

le mie zie

i miei suoceri

il mio amico

la mia collega

le mie vicine

These are correct expressions.

Less correct and more childhood seems:

il mio papà

You can also try the same with indefinite articles.

In which cases do I need to use the article in front of a possessive adjective and in which cases don't I?

Do you know the rule? I never found it even if I'm Italian!...

  • As above but I feel no def art even for familial relationships with singular nouns IF THAT NOUN IS MODIFIED IN ANY WAY...which accounts for mamma papa etc...they are affectionate modifications of madre padre. Eg cugino / la cuginetta. Even bambino / il bimbo...no? DaG explained best – user4400 Mar 5 '18 at 11:15
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    @user4400: I'm sorry, I cannot understand what you mean. Moreover this is not an answer to the question. – Denis Nardin Mar 5 '18 at 11:45
9

According to Serianni, Italiano, Garzanti 1997 (p. 126):

Con un sostantivo plurale l'articolo è obbligatorio: «le nostre madri», «i suoi figli», «i miei nonni». Ugualmente necessario è oggi l'articolo con l'aggettivo possessivo loro: «la loro moglie», «il loro fratello».

Con padre, madre, figlio, figlia l'articolo si omette [...]. L'articolo va espresso, invece, con le varianti affettive babbo, papà, mamma, figliolo, figliola [...]. Nell'italiano familiare, specie fuor di Toscana, sono tuttavia ben saldi i tipi mia mamma e mio papà [...].

Con altri singenionimi l'uso toscano predilige l'articolo, ma altrove è comune l'omissione, ben rappresentata, del resto, anche in scrittori toscani [...]: «a mia sorella» (Cassola), «tua nonna» (Pratolini) [...]. L'articolo è però necessario:

a) con gli alterati: «la mia sorellina» (Cassola [...]), «alla tua nonnina» (Pirandello, Novelle per un anno);

b) con patrigno, matrigna, figliastro, figliastra [...];

c) con i termini che indicano un rapporto sentimentale che non rientra, o non rientra ancora, nei vincoli di parentela: fidanzato, fidanzata, ragazzo, ragazza, bello, bella, moroso, morosa, amante, ecc. [...];

d) quando, in costrutti con valore enfatico, il possessivo sia posposto: «il nonno mio» [...].

Summing up: before a noun in the plural or a singular noun with the adjective loro, the article is always used; with padre, madre, figlio, figlia it is always omitted; with other nouns it is either compulsory (cases a - d) or mostly used, especially in Tuscan use, but with some oscillations elsewhere (such as la tua nonna / tua nonna).

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  • Very good, but I think you should also provide an English summary (or direct translation) of the source here. – martina Nov 20 '13 at 10:53
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    Ok, done. But don't you think that whoever (Italian- or English-speaking) is able to appreciate the fine points of the use of articles in Italian in specific situations would be able to understand the gist of this quote too? – DaG Nov 20 '13 at 10:55
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    Well, probably, but I think that we need to stick to the simple rule: provide answer in English if question is in English. To remark your point, I think this question is actually a basic usage one: of course Italians wouldn't have problems in understanding someone who says "IL mio padre va a spasso", but it's kind of wrong anyway and learners would like to know as an elementary rule. – martina Nov 20 '13 at 11:01
3

You can omit the article when the name is singular and you're talking about a relationship in the sense of kinship so:

  • padre, moglie, zia, suocero go without article
  • zie, suoceri with article (plural)
  • amico, collega, vicine with article (not connections by blood, marriage or adoption).

As you guessed, papà, like mamma and babbo, make exceptions to this rule and allow the article when singular.

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