"We live in an apartment."
Translation:Abitiamo in un appartamento.
Is "nel" more like the word "inside", than just "in"? I tried "Io vivo nel appartamento" and that was incorrect.
That would be "nell'appartamento" (it's l' before vowels); the English sentence uses "an apartment" though, so you should use an indeterminate article in Italian as well (un).
Why would it be nell'apartamento when apartamento is masculine? I thought only nella would be contracted to nell'? How does nel gain an extra L to become nell'?
It has nothing to do with grammatical gender. It's called phonosyntactic gemination or doubling; it happens in some cases when a word ends in vowel and the next starts in consonant, but it's only written down when the words are joined. So "sopra tutto" became "soprattutto", "da per tutto" became "dappertutto", and so on; "ne il" became "nel" but "ne lo" and "ne la" became "nello" and "nella" (ne is an archaic form of in).
But that still doesn't explain the double "l" in "nell'appartamento". Is there an explanation for double "l" for male gender words?
Wouldn't "Abitiamo in un appartamento" be just as if not more common/appropriate than "viviamo" here?
I thought "abitare" meant to live IN - so why do we need "in" here as well?
Probably more to do with the use of "a" instead of "in"
a is used for proper places like cities, or your house. "Noi viviamo a nostro appartamento" / "We live in our apartment" Vs "Noi viviamo in un appartamento" / "we live in an apartment"