My Italian textbook says that we can use essere with a profession sticking to the following rules: If essere is followed by a noun only (no adjective), you don't use any article, e.g.

Lui è dottore.

If essere is followed by a noun and an adjective, you use an indefinite article, e.g.

Lui è un buon dottore.

I saw a YouTube video where native Italians talk about their jobs. One of them says:

Sono giornalista.

Another says:

Sono un sacerdote.

It's obvious that you can include or exclude an indefinite article in an Italian phrase stating your profession with essere without an adjective.

My question is this: is any of them more correct than the other or are both equally correct?

  • 4
    Some security officer is blocking people wanting to go nearer the crime scene. Somebody goes ahead, telling the officer “Sono un giornalista” and showing a card. I bet that nobody in that situation (or similar) would say “Sono giornalista”. Your textbook is a little too tranchant.
    – egreg
    Feb 22, 2022 at 8:02
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    I agree with @egreg. In several situations both constructions are possible (with and without article), with a slightly different meaning.
    – DaG
    Feb 22, 2022 at 10:18
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    Both constructions are correct and used; they can have a very little difference, especially if stressed, for example, by intonation. Feb 23, 2022 at 11:31

1 Answer 1


The difference is minimal: “Sono un ingegnere" literally means "I'm an engineer" while “Sono ingegnere" could perhaps be intended as "My profession is engineer". However, both forms are usually used in identical contexts and both are grammatically correct. The form "Sono un ingegnere" is widely used.

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