"The boys eat bread."
Translation:I ragazzi mangiano il pane.
Excellent summary by Nitram on use of the definite article in Italian. https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/1012366/When-to-use-the-definite-article. Although English would use bread without the article, the Italians use the article before names of materials. This article has a great list of when articles are used and when they are not used in Italian
"Gli" and "i" are both used as the definite article for masculine plural. Use "i" for plural masculine nouns that start with a consonant. "I fratelli" (the brothers) Use "gli" for plural masculine nouns that begin with a vowel "gli amici" (the friends). But that is not all! You also need to use "gli" in front of masculine plural words in 7 other common situations!! : Words beginning with z, s+ another consonant, gn, pn, ps, x or y. Eg: "gli studenti" (the students) "gli pneumatici" (the tyres) "gli yogurt" (the yoghurts)
I am not sure, and I am hoping to get some confirmation here. I have had the same question about some exercises. I speak French and Spanish and French always always uses some sort of article and Spanish would never use one here. It seems to me that the Spanish rules are the more commonly used rules in Italian, but there is somehow a greater tendency to add an article. I think of all the exercises that have either Bevo acqua or bevo l'acqua. I think Duo is trying to say that many Italians would tend to say l'acqua when we would just say water. Can anyone confirm this?
Both the noun and the article change in the plural. The plural form of il is i, and of la is le. This means that the noun endings and the article ending (or sole letter) mostly match in the plural. Il ragazzo becomes i ragazzi and la ragazza becomes le ragazze. But you have to be careful with feminine nouns ending in e in the singular. In those cases the noun forms the plural with an i, although the article still becomes le. So la chiave becomes le chiavi. Since nouns ending in e can be either masculine or feminine, those are especially important to learn the gender with as you learn the word.