When to Use the Apostrophe in Italian!

The apostrophe in Italian is a real nightmare! But it’s time to clarify how it is used once and for all! Watch our lesson and try to do the exercises!  😆

When to use the apostrophe in Italian?

1.   QUAL’È or QUAL È

In this case it is always used the form WITHOUT APOSTROPHE!


Qual è il vostro film preferito? (What’s your favorite movie?)

2.   or PO’

Po’ is the abbreviation for “poco”, so it must be always written WITH THE APOSTROPHE!


Oggi sono un po’ stanca. Vorrei riposarmi un po’. (Today I’m a bit tired. I’d like to get a little rest)


Masculine names beginning with a vowel and preceded by the indefinite article “un”, never take the apostrophe!


Marco è un uomo buono. (Marco is a good man)

Other examples are:

Un ordine (An order)

Un orologio (A watch)

Un atto (An act)

and so on…

N.B. Obviously, the apostrophe is always used with the definite article followed by a word beginning with a vowel:

L’uomo (The man),

L’atto (The act),

L’orologio (The watch) etc…

4.  UN APE or UN’APE

Feminine nouns beginning with a vowel and preceded by the indefinite article “una” do take the apostrophe, because the “A” of “una” is removed when followed by another vowel.


Lucia è stata punta da un’ape. (Lucia was stung by a bee)

Other examples are:

Un’isola (An island)

Un’immagine (A picture)

Review the Italian articles!


The form without apostrophe is the correct one.

QUALCUNO ends with “uno”, which is a masculine article, therefore we don’t use the apostrophe because it is followed by a masculine word which begins with a vowel (“altro”).


Sei venuto da solo o c’è qualcun altro con te? (Did you come alone or is there someone else with you?)

For the same reason, we will also write NESSUN ALTRO and not NESSUN’ALTRO, with the apostrophe.

The correct feminine form, instead, is QUALCUN’ALTRA and NESSUN’ALTRA, because QUALCUNA ends with “una”, feminine article, and the word that follows the article (“altra”) is feminine and begins with a vowel.

6.  ‘900 or 900

If you want to indicate a century from 1100 on, you can also omit the first “one”, but you necessarily have to add the apostrophe at the beginning:


1100 = ‘100

1200 = ‘200

1300 = ‘300

1400 = ‘400

and so on…

BE CAREFUL!  Don’t forget the apostrophe because there are also the centuries 100, 200, 300 and so on!!!

7.  The apostrophe can also be used with the years of the 20th century (‘900), but only with those years!


Sono nata nel ‘78 (= 1978). (I was born in 1978)

Sono nato nel ‘91 (= 1991). (I was born in 1991)

But we will say:

La Rivoluzione francese è scoppiata nel 1789 (The French Revolution broke out in 1789)

1789 remains like that because it’s not a year of the 20th century.

Now that you know how to use the apostrophe, learn how to write a formal email!

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

6 thoughts to “When to Use the Apostrophe in Italian!”

  1. What about age expressions?
    Or is it always the non-abbreviated version, or might it sometimes be noticeable in everyday casual (and quick) spoken language?

    “Ho ventidue anni”
    “Ho ventidu’anni”

  2. I’ve been learning Italian for a couple of months, and find your site really useful!

    This explanation on the use of apostrophes isn’t clear to me: “The form without apostrophe is the correct one. QUALCUNO ends with “uno”, so the rule of the indefinite article we have seen before is still valid.”

    To which “previously seen rule” are you referring”? If it’s to you lesson on Definite and Indefinite Articles, the only indefinite example there with a noun beginning with a vowel is “uno iato”. I don’t get the connection between this nd qualcun altro. Or maybe I’ve totally misunderstood. Could you clear this up?

    Mille grazie!

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your feedback!

      Refresh the page and let me know if it is clearer now!

      Best wishes,

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