Titles

Italian titles
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Titoli

Titles are important in Italian, and they are used somewhat differently than their English counterparts.

  1. Italian titles must sometimes be preceded by the definite article.
  2. There are masculine and feminine versions of most titles.

General titles

Italian title   English title
signore   Mr.
signora   Mrs.
signorina   Miss

Professional titles

When the person’s profession or level of education is known, many other titles come into play.

Italian title Abbreviation   Meaning
architetto arch.   architect
avvocato
avvocatessa
avv.   lawyer
dottore
dottoressa
dott.   doctor, university graduate**
geometra     surveyor
ingegnere ing.   engineer
maestro
maestra
    grade-school teacher, music teacher
professore
professoressa
prof.
prof.ssa
  high school teacher, professor

** Dottore and dottoressa are not reserved for medical doctors and PhDs; they refer to anyone with a Master’s or Bachelor’s degree.

 Titles that end in -e, like signore and dottore, are spelled this way only when used on their own, as in Buongiorno signore. When followed by a name, they lose the final -e: Signor Bartoli.

Italian titles and definite articles

When speaking about a titled person in Italian, the uncapitalized title is preceded by the definite article.

Per esempio…

Il signor Bartoli non è qui.   Mr. Bartoli is not here.
Dove vive la professoressa Marabella?   Where does Professor Marabella live?

However, when you are speaking to the person, the title is capitalized and there is no definite article.

Buongiorno, Signor Bartoli, come sta?   Hello, Mr. Bartoli, how are you?
Aspetti un momento, Professoressa Marabella   Please wait a moment, Professor Marabella.

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Titoli - Italian titles