The apostrophe in Italian

The apostrophe is a graphic sign (‘) which in Italian is used to indicate:

  1. the dropping of the final vowel of the word when followed by a word starting with a vowel (elision);
  2. the cancellation of the vowel, consonant or syllable at the end of the word (truncation).

1. In the first case, the apostrophe is mandatory with:

  • the definite articles la and lo and the articulated prepositions della and dello followed by a vowel:

l’amica, l’animale, dell’uomo, dell’orchestra;

  • the feminine indefinite article una and the indefinite pronouns qualcuna and nessuna followed by a vowel:

un’amica, un’opera, qualcun’altra, nessun’altra;

  • the demonstrative adjective quello and quella followed by a vowel:

quell’albero, quell‘immagine.

Warning: the apostrophe is NEVER used with the masculine indefinite article un. You say un amico, NOT un’amico. Even the indefinite pronouns qualcuno and nessuno, before the adverb “altro” lose the final vowel but don’t take the apostrophe. We say qualcun altro, nessun altro and NOT qualcun’altro, nessun’altro.

2. In the second case, in Italian some words lose the final syllable.

In these cases, the apostrophe is used to indicate truncation.

un poco = un po, vai = va, fai = fa

Fa e va, con o senza apostrofo e accento?

See also:

Si scrive un altro e un’altra