Italian Adjectives

You may remember way back in school, your teacher will have told you that an adjective is a describing word. Well, just like in English, an Italian adjective is added to a noun to give it a quality or to define it in a better way.

You could say that adjectives are all about making the noun better.

Whether it's in English, Italian, or any other language, a world without adjectives would be a very dull and boring world indeed. There would be no fast cars, they'd just be cars. No sunny days, they'd just be days...

So, let's celebrate the power of the descriptive word, and find out all about Italian adjectives.

How to pronounce Italian adjectives

Here are some Italian sentences using adjectives to get you started. Further on in this lesson we will look at the pronunciation of these and more Italian adjectives.

  • Il cielo azzurro mi diverte - The blue sky amuses me
  • Ho bisogno di una sciarpa e una giacca nuove - I need a new scarf and a new jacket
  • Il gioco nuovo - The new toy
  • La casa nuova - The new house
  • L’uomo egoista - The egoist man
  • Gli uomini gentili - The kind men
  • Il muro rosa - The pink wall
  • C’era un grande lago - There was a big lake
  • Luisa è una bella ragazza - Luisa is a beautiful girl
  • Luigi è venuto con la sua bella figlia - Luigi has come with his beautiful daughter

Let's get started...

According to the noun it's linked to, adjectives can have:


An attributive function, when it is linked directly to a noun.

A predicative function, when it is linked to the noun through the verb essere, to be.

Adjectives agree always on genre and number with the noun. If they're linked to more than one noun and just one of them is masculine, the adjectives are all defined as masculine.

Italian Adjectives: forms and examples

The forms of the adjectives:

1. Adjectives ending on masculine singular with –o

2. Adjectives ending on masculine singular with –ista

3. Adjectives ending on masculine singular with –e

4. The following adjectives have an invariable form:

  • pari (pair) and dispari (odd)
  • adjectives of colors, which derive from nouns: rosa, ocra, viola, nocciola, marrone
  • adjectives composed by the prefix anti + noun: antinebbia (fog lights), antifurto (anti-theft)

The Position of Italian Adjectives

The adjectives can be used before or after the noun.

The position gives a different tone to a sentence, according to these rules:


The adjective before the noun has less power than the one after.

is less powerful than

Sometimes the adjective before the noun has a descriptive function, while after it has a distinctive function

In some cases, the different position can influence the meaning of the sentence.

There are adjectives that are used only after the noun. They indicate:

Adjectives and adverbs

While adjectives are connected with nouns, adverbs complete the verb. Usually adverbs have the same stem of the corresponding adjectives + the suffix -mente.

Adverb

Adjective

Adverb

Adjective

Buono is an adjective, while bene is the corresponding adverb.

Italian adjectives summary

  • Adjectives in Italian are conjugated as the nouns: masculine ends with -o (plural, -i), feminine with -a (plural -e).
  • As for the noun, a third type of adjectives ends with -e (plural, -i); these adjectives have the same form for masculine and feminine.
  • The adjectives can have an attributive or predicative function.
  • Usually the position of the adjectives in Italian language is after the noun, especially if the adjective indicates color or nationality. Most of the Italian adjectives can be used either before or after the noun.
  • Adverbs are built using the stem of the corresponding adjective + the suffix -mente
For more on Italian grammar check out these lessons! A presto!
Maria Di Lorenzi
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