"Tavolo" vs. "tavola"
When I learned Italian 30+ years ago, I was taught the word for "table" was "tavola". I was never taught "tavolo", and it took quite a while in Italy before I understood that it was in fact a masculine word that meant, seemingly, the same thing.
I stumbled on a language blog where the difference between the two is examined:
In summary, if I understand correctly:
"Il tavolo" is a piece of furniture. When you reserve a table at a restaurant, you always reserve "un tavolo". I assume one goes shopping for "un tavolo" to put in the dining room.
In contrast, "la tavola" is the idea of a table, especially as a place where a family meets and eats together. You set "la tavola", you call the family "a tavola", you sit down at "la tavola", you bring food "in tavola", and so forth.
This was kind of a revelation to me. Hope it's helpful to others, too.
A taaaaaaavola Duolingo friends, io offro la colazione :) Al menu : croissant, caffè o tè (zucchero per chi vole) frutta fresca, fette di formaggio e in prima, il mio sorriso ;-) Benvenuti in Francia tutti!!
E' proprio così sbeecroft! Però in italiano è corretto dire sia " il tavolo è apparecchiato" che "la tavola è apparecchiata" mentre dirò solo "vado a tavola per la cena" e non " "vado a tavolo per la cena.
Tavolo is the table, the subject of forniture, the piece of wood (or other materials). "Ho comprato il tavolo per la sala da pranzo" (I bought the table for the dining room) Tavola is the "convivio", the banquet, the place where you eat. "La tavola della sala da pranzo era ancora apparecchiata" ("the table of the dining room was still laid").
Tavola is also: a squared piece of wood, much longer than wide http://www.ikea.com/us/en/images/products/broder-shelf__52834_PE154476_S4.jpg Tavola is also a panel painting and also the panel to be painted. Tavola is a slab of wood, stone, marble or bronze (Tavola di Hammurrabi, Tavola di Esterzili) Tavola is a panel of comic Tavola is the religious tablet (le tavole dei dieci comandamenti) Tavola is the board (snowboard, skateboard, surfboard, Ironing Board etc...) Tavola is a chart, a table or a prospectus (Periodic Table, Table of Abbreviations, etc...)
"tavola" is also used for DIY; ex.; mi serve una tavola per finire di costruire la libreria
Duo definitely messes this up. The way I think of it, which hopefully isn't sexist, is that once a table is all dressed up for sunday dinner with its candlesticks and place-mats and everything, it becomes too ornate to just be any old "tavolo".
It's kind of like how in italian, "Lui è pazzo." has a very different meaning from "Lui è pazza." learned that one the hard way haha