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As far as I know, both "Lei è diventata donna" and "Lei è diventata una donna" are acceptable.

But sometimes the article is not optional. Is there a general rule with omitting article?

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    The correct sentences are «Lei è diventata donna» and «Lei è diventata una donna», with an “a”. I write this as a comment, rather than correcting, to attract @jxhyc's attention on it. – DaG Sep 15 '15 at 6:48
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    Grazie. Note that I edited the question in order not to distract from the main question. – jxhyc Sep 15 '15 at 10:45
  • If you are satisfied with one of the answers to your question, please consider the option to "accept" an answer by clicking a checkmark next to that answer. – I.M. Oct 24 '15 at 9:04
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The "articolo indeterminativo" (un, uno, una) is different from the "articolo determinativo" (il, lo, la, i, gli, le) in that it tends to indicate one (any) among many, while the latter tends to indicate one (specific) among many.

In this particular case there is no formal difference in the two usages. The only case where there is a difference is when you promote the noun to a capitalized one, to dignify the concept to the more abstract one: "Lei è diventata Donna", is used to indicate that she has developed those traits typical of an idealized woman.

In this case, you cannot use the "articolo indeterminativo", because that cannot be used with capitalized nouns, nor you can use the "articolo determinativo", because we are talking about the concept of woman, not an instance of woman, and therefore you are forced to drop the article completely.

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    Not disagreeing, but (nitpickery) "[Lei] è diventata una Donna con la "d" maiuscola" would be correct. The funny thing here is that the expression itself recursively deems referencing donna in the context (i.e. using an undefinite article) with a capital "d" as correct. – kos Sep 15 '15 at 8:39
  • Yeah but that's a different sentence :D – Diego Martinoia Sep 15 '15 at 12:27
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When you use the article, "donna" is a noun, as in "Lei è diventata una statua"; without article, it can be intended as an adjective, as in "Lei è diventata bionda". The sense of the phrase is slightly different, if you use the article the change is perceived as stronger, more radical.

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