"Her pasta is on the plate."
Translation:La sua pasta è nel piatto.
"sul piatto" is also accepted as alternative but that's the exact translation of "on the" right?
What is the definite distinction between nello and nel? Is it gender or singular/plural? Or something completely different?
"Nello" is used when it's a contraction of "in the" and the noun starts with either "z" or "s-impure" (st, sp, sch etc), where the noun is masculine . "In the zoo" would be "nello zoo", for example.
The correct translation requires the use of "essere" verb. In fact, in a correct italian, we have to use "essere" verb (for example here, we say "è nel piatto") instead of the "stare" verb (so, "sta nel piatto" it's incorrect). "Stare" is used only in dialectal form of speaking.
They both essentially mean the same ('in the' or 'on the'), however su is generally used when movement is involved. You'd be understood using 'sul' in this context, however 'nel' is grammatically more accurate
Why is the article needed in this? "Sua pasta è nel piatto" is right too?
At the beginning of a sentence you always need the article with the possessive. Within the sentence I believe it's optional
La sua is singular (one 'pasta'). If it were plural you'd use 'le sue' (e.g. le sue paste), but I don't think you'd ever mix the singular article with the plural possessive
Does La sua always go together or does both change? His or her for example. What if you used suo or sue?
For this sentence you don't know - it could be either. The 'la sua' is feminine because 'pasta' is feminine, not because the pasta belongs to a woman. Normally this isn't a concern - if you're speaking to someone the context would normally be obvious. If you need to you can add the word for he or she for emphasis;
Lui la sua pasta è nel piatto (his pasta....)
Lei la sua pasta è nel piatto (her pasta....)
Would "la sua pasta sta nel piatto" be incorrect? Is "sta" only for animate objects?