If the noun is both feminine and masculine, then what would be the definite article?? For example, for gente, it is both feminine and masculine, so what would the definite article be??

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    Notice that "gente" is feminine, so it's "la gente".
    – Charo
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 5:43
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    You are probably referring to the English IT. There is no indefinite gender in Italian. All nouns have a gender connotation. A generic one can be feminine like la cosa or masculine il coso for instance.
    – user519
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 7:32
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    Tia27, would you terribly mind having a look at a dictionary when you have a doubt like this? I promise dictionaries give, for each word, its exact spelling, its gender, its main forms when irregular and so on.
    – DaG
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


There is no “generic gender” in Italian: every name is either masculine or feminine. The word gente is feminine, so it wants the article la even when you're referring to a group of male people.

Another instance is persona: if you're talking about a male, you have to use the article la (that is, la persona) nonetheless.

Words like gente or persona don't have gender variations like figlio and figlia, so for them the feminine article will always be used. If a word has gender variation, when talking about “mixed” situations the masculine form is used: Giacomo ha quattro figli, due maschi e due femmine.

A few words can receive both articles because the masculine and feminine forms share the word; you find some of them at this article on Treccani. Going on with the example above we would say Giacomo ha salutato i suoi quattro nipoti even if some of them are male and some female.

  • @charo, perché hai tolto 'or both' che avevo aggiunto. Considera 'anatra' per esempio. Essa è sia maschile che femminile. Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 0:35
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    Sì, @ElberichSchneider, ma quando stai scrivendo l'articolo devi sempre scegliere tra il maschile o il femminile. Penso che questo sia il senso della frase da egreg. Credo che il tuo "or both" possa causare confusione nel contesto di questa domanda in cui l'OP chiede qual è l'articolo per "a noun that is both feminine and masculine".
    – Charo
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 7:37
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    @ElberichSchneider: A proposito del tuo esempio, penso si dica "l'anatra" e non "il anatra" perché il nome è femminile anche se l'uccello può essere maschio.
    – Charo
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 10:06
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    @ElberichSchneider Adding “or both” would invalidate my argument: the anatra example is not relevant, because it's always feminine. I'm talking about grammatical gender that is fixed, although some words can have the same form with masculine and feminine grammatical gender. In those cases you choose the relevant one when using the word; so you'll say either mia nipote Anna or mio nipote Luigi.
    – egreg
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 10:26

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