This varies, depending on the ending of the noun. These are the basic rules to follow for definite articles, singular, nominative/accusative form:
-consonant: + "-ul"; e.g. sat - satul (village - the village)
-i: + "-ul"; e.g. război - războiul (war - the war)
-u: + "-l"; e.g. ou - oul (egg - the egg)
-e: + "-le"; e.g. rege - regele (king - the king)
-ă: There are very few masculine nouns ending in "ă":
tată - tatăl (father - the father)
papă - papa (pope - the pope)
popă - popa (priest - the priest)
pașă - pașa (Ottoman rank)
-ă: replaced by "-a"; e.g. masă - masa (table - the table)
-e: replaced by "-ea"
*; e.g. lumânare - lumânarea (candle - the candle)
-ie: replaced by "-ia"
**; e.g. farfurie - farfuria (plate - the plate) ; cheie - cheia (key - the key)
-a: + "-ua"; e.g. sarma - sarmaua (popular Romanian food)
-ea: + "-ua"; e.g. lalea - laleaua (tulip - the tulip)
-i : + "-ua"; e.g. zi - ziua (day - the day)
* be careful that this is a diphthong and no additional syllable occurs
**this may be misleading, as "ie" can be both a diphthong or two separate vowels. The same relation is kept with "ia":
/far.fu.ri.e/ - /far.fu.ri.a/
/ke.je/ - /ke.ja/
(I am not very good with IPA, but I hope that is clear enough for people to get the idea.)
Note that neutral nouns just behave like masculine nouns in the singular (and feminine nouns in the plural) so they are also covered here.
Disclaimer: I am a native speaker, but there might be some weird, obscure exceptions that I can't think of right now.
would be really helpful to have more explanations like this on duolingo and especially in this course. The new grammar just pops up out of the blue here :(
Thank you SO much! This type of explanations and rules are the ones that Duolingo needs for ALL their courses. Thanks!!!
Very strange thing with these sufixeses... and rare as well in romance languages
All of the definite articles in romance languages were developed from other kinds of articles, romanian was the only one to use an article that was also used in latin after the noun. Its position probably made them turn it into a suffix in time.
That way, the latin "romanu illu" (meaning "that romanian" in latin) became românul (meaning "the romanian" in romanian). You can read more about it here:
Interesting how Romanian was the one daughter language that kept going in that direction while all the other Romance languages went in the other direction.
Is the first 'e' elided here or at least unstressed? It doesn't sound as stressed as in 'lapte'