What are the rules for using an article with the name of a football team?

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What is the rule for using articles with the soccer team names?

Why do you say la Inter (l'Inter), la Juventus, la Lazio, la Roma, but also il Milan, il Bologna, il Genoa, il Manchester United, and il Chelsea?


Qual è la regola per l'uso degli articoli con i nomi delle squadre di calcio?

Perché si dice la Inter (l'Inter), la Juventus, la Lazio, la Roma, ma allo stesso tempo il Milan, il Bologna, il Genoa, il Manchester United e il Chelsea?

I.M.

Posted 2013-11-05T20:22:07.323

Reputation: 4 389

4Should we have among the first questions the infamous “qual’è versus qual è”?egreg 2013-11-06T13:49:54.773

1@egreg :) I believe this question will appear soon anyway (my bet would be: immediately as the site goes into public beta!!).I.M. 2013-11-06T13:55:18.610

Answers

27

Translating this article found on the Accademia della Crusca website:

Masculine

Whenever the team is named after the name of the city it belongs to - or a variant of it, such as Genoa - the masculine genre is used to distinguish it from its toponym, which is generally feminine.

Examples

La magnifica Cagliari → the city
Il magnifico Cagliari → the team

La magnifica Milano → the city
Il magnifico Milan → the team


Feminine

Probably due to the implicit noun squadra (team), is used with names derived from an ethnical adjective (such as Fiorentina or Udinese) and with names not related to a toponym.

Examples

La (squadra) Juventus, The Juventus (team)

La (squadra) Sampdoria, The Sampdoria (team)

Exceptions

The most notable exception to this explanation is la Roma, which is feminine despite being named after the city it belongs to. So

La sorprendente Roma -> the city

but also

La sorprendente Roma -> the team


Translation of the article

Whenever the team is named after the name of the city it belongs to - or a variant of it, such as Genoa - the masculine genre is used to distinguish it from its toponym, which is generally feminine (so la magnifica Cagliari = the city; il magnifico Cagliari = the team). The feminine, probably due to the implicit noun squadra (team), is used with names derived from an ethnical adjective (such as Fiorentina or Udinese) and with names not related to a toponym (such as Atalanta, Juventus, Sampdoria and Lazio, the latter being so distinguished from region name). The main exception to this explanation is la Roma.


original source

Quando la squadra porta lo stesso nome della città di appartenenza - o una sua variante, come nel caso del Genoa - il genere maschile serve a distinguerla dal toponimo, che è normalmente femminile (quindi la magnifica Cagliari = la città; il magnifico Cagliari = la squadra). Il femminile, probabilmente dovuto al sostantivo sottinteso squadra, si adopera con nomi derivati da un aggettivo etnico (la Fiorentina, l'Udinese) e con nomi che non corrispondono a un toponimo (quindi l'Atalanta, la Juventus, la Sampdoria e anche la Lazio, che così si distingue oltretutto dal nome della regione). La principale eccezione, di fronte a una spiegazione del genere, è la Roma.»

Gabriele Petronella

Posted 2013-11-05T20:22:07.323

Reputation: 3 259

I don't agree. For example Bari (city) and Bari (team). La bella Bari (referred to city); La Bari (referred to team). Maybe only an exceptionJoe Taras 2013-12-23T10:17:14.373

@GabrielePetronella, I accepted you answer to this classical question (which I've learned myself years ago) but there is still one point missing: what about the names of the foreign teams that are generally masculine whether they are related or not to a toponym? It'd be great if you could kindly expand your answer for any further references.I.M. 2013-11-06T01:23:14.387

2La squadra Milan --> no, it's "il" MilanDamien Pirsy 2013-11-05T20:45:15.623

Examples La (squadra) Juventus, The Juventus (team) That's trying to make a general rules, which is failing in many casesDamien Pirsy 2013-11-05T20:46:52.723

2Actually, no. As I explain Juventus doesn't have a related toponym, so team is implied. On the other hand Milan is a variant of Milano (the city), so a masculine article is used to disambiguate. La città di Milano, Il Milan.Gabriele Petronella 2013-11-05T20:48:32.687

shouldn't it be La magica Roma?Agos 2013-11-06T15:42:51.660

1it's La maggica Roma, actually :-) (for non-Italian speakers: it's a joke, since people in Rome tend to pronounce it in that way) @I.M.: usually all non-Italian words are felt as masculine, not only among soccer teams. There is some exception, but they happen when the Italian translation of the term is feminine: the first example I have in mind is "la net neutrality", because it is felt as "la neutralità della rete".mau 2013-11-06T16:00:08.393

1@mau Thanks, I know (though, the question is still only about soccer teams). The feminine exceptions among foreign teams are very few, actually: all teams with the word "Dinamo" and la Stella Rossa. I just hoped that somebody would add it as an answer instead of a comment for the future users.I.M. 2013-11-06T16:07:51.990

I will never add a question about soccer :-) (I think these exceptions happen because these names are Italian feminine words, btw)mau 2013-11-06T16:12:34.970

9

[don't know if I need to write in english or in italian here...]

I fear there's no golden rule, but everything is left to the native speaker sensibility and to the common usage.

While in some cases you can argue that some names require a different article to avoid confusion (il Lazio as the region, la Lazio as the football team, similar for il Bologna and la bologna), ultimately it doesn't even come down to the type of consonant-vowels group that follows the article, since (the first example that comes to my mind) we say la Fiorentina and il Fiorenzuola - and the words share many common characters.

You need to forget the various grammar rules governing the use of articles. By a fast online research, I found this, allegedly from an Accademia della Crusca expert:

«Il problema, affrontato in modo convincente da Giuseppe Francescato (in "Lingua Nostra", XXXIII, 1972, pp. 132-37), è stato poi ripreso e riassunto con grande chiarezza da Jacqueline Brunet, Grammaire critique de l'italien, 5 [Le genre], Parigi, Université de Paris, VIII-Vincennes, 1982, pp. 80-82. Quando la squadra porta lo stesso nome della città di appartenenza - o una sua variante, come nel caso del Genoa - il genere maschile serve a distinguerla dal toponimo, che è normalmente femminile (quindi la magnifica Cagliari = la città; il magnifico Cagliari = la squadra). Il femminile, probabilmente dovuto al sostantivo sottinteso squadra, si adopera con nomi derivati da un aggettivo etnico (la Fiorentina, l'Udinese) e con nomi che non corrispondono a un toponimo (quindi l'Atalanta, la Juventus, la Sampdoria e anche la Lazio, che così si distingue oltretutto dal nome della regione). La principale eccezione, di fronte a una spiegazione del genere, è la Roma

but I sense it's more in the ears of the native speaker, and on the common use of the words - since we're almost raised hearing footbal teams names, we interiorized the use of a form, and that seems natural to us.

Damien Pirsy

Posted 2013-11-05T20:22:07.323

Reputation: 506

7

Si sottointende la parola squadra, quindi: la (squadra) Inter, eccetera.

In altri casi, credo si sottointenda il club o football club, quindi: il (club) Milan, il (club) Bologna, eccetera.

Mi sembra evidente che si usi il maschile quando il nome della squadra e' anche un nome di citta', forse per evitare confusione, visto che le citta' prendono il femminile.


The word "team" is implied if the name is feminine, the word "club" is implied if the name is masculine.

The masculine terms are preferred in those cases when the teams have city names.

Sklivvz

Posted 2013-11-05T20:22:07.323

Reputation: 2 281

1Se il genere dei nomi di citta' e' femminile, come mai si usa scrivere, almeno nelle carte geografiche, 'Il Cairo' e non 'La Cairo'?Kyriakos Kyritsis 2013-11-05T20:57:15.733

E' un'eccezione: il nome della citta' e' "Il Cairo" non "Cairo" (suppongo, proprio in quanto un'eccezione!)Sklivvz 2013-11-05T21:02:49.970

2Il Cairo è il nome completo, in quanto deriva dall'arabo al-QāhiraGabriele Petronella 2013-11-05T21:21:27.910

1It's going to be really hard to answer in English...Sklivvz 2013-11-05T20:39:30.453

1Why not "IL club Juventus" then? Why not l(a) A(ssociazione) C(alcistica) Milan?Damien Pirsy 2013-11-05T20:41:58.403

Yep, added that.Sklivvz 2013-11-05T20:43:06.173

6

For foreign teams the most common article is ‘il/lo’ (but ‘la Fluminense’). For Italian teams the rule is that's no rule exists. One can give some criterions, just for finding exceptions to them.

It used to be common saying ‘la Bari’, but the standard with city names prevailed, this hasn't happened with ‘la Roma’. About ‘la Sampdoria’ one should mention that its supporters always say ‘il Doria’.

We can find other exceptions to the criterions: the main rugby team in Padova is ‘il Petrarca’: saying ‘la Petrarca’ would expose to rough retaliations. ;-)

Teams with names of sponsors are usually feminine, like ‘la Scavolini Pesaro’ that becomes ‘il Pesaro’ when the sponsor's name is omitted; conversely it used always to be ‘il Lanerossi Vicenza’, as far as I can remember (maybe for distinguishing the team from the factory).

egreg

Posted 2013-11-05T20:22:07.323

Reputation: 10 674

2Forza la Juve! :)Paulo Cereda 2013-11-22T11:20:38.903

1'la Roma' divenne 'la Roma', e non 'il Roma', perche' 'la Lazio', un'altra squadra di Roma fondata molti anni prima, influenzò i romani nell'uso dell'articolo 'la', that's all.Kyriakos Kyritsis 2013-11-06T14:08:31.130

La Dinamo Kiev? :) I like your notes about the sponsor names. And il Doria, of course! But I strongly feel that there are too many aspects in Italian, where one could say "the rule is that's no rule exists." This site is for providing the answers and I'd be happy if we can break the bad tradition of many textbooks to say "OK, don't try to understand this logic, just learn this by heart."I.M. 2013-11-06T14:09:09.783

1@I.M. Rules can be defined only on retrospect and in all languages exceptions to ‘rules’ are always frequent. For ‘Dinamo’ the consonance with the Italian word probably explains the feminine article. I'd note that the Italian pronunciation is ‘dìnamo’, while in Slavic languages it's ‘dinàmo’ (with sound variations, of course). I feel that there's a logic in the assignment to masculine or feminine, but usage always wins against logic.egreg 2013-11-06T14:15:22.810