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.
Resources for further reading:
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.
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Il cielo azzurro mi diverte.
The blue sky amuses me.
A predicative function, when it is linked to the noun through the verb essere, to be.
Il cielo è azzurro.
The sky is blue.
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.
Ho bisogno di una sciarpa (f) e una giacca (f) nuove.
I need a new scarf and a new jacket.
Ho bisogno di un pullover (m) e una giacca (f) nuovi.
I need a new pullover and a new jacket.
Italian Adjectives: forms and examples
The forms of the adjectives:
1. Adjectives ending on masculine singular with –o
Il gioco nuovo
The new toy
I giochi nuovi
The new toys
La casa nuova
The new house
le case nuove
The new houses
2. Adjectives ending on masculine singular with –ista
The egoist man
La donna egoista
The egoist woman
Gli uomini egoisti
The egoist men
Le donne egoiste
The egoist women
3. Adjectives ending on masculine singular with –e
The kind man
La donna gentile
The kind woman
Gli uomini gentili
The kind men
Le donne gentili
The kind women
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)
Il muro rosa
The pink wall
I muri rosa
The pink walls
La casa rosa
The pink house
Le case rosa
The pink houses
The Position of Italian Adjectives
The adjectives can be used before or after the noun.
C’era un grande lago
There was a big lake
C’era un lago grande
There was a big lake
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.
Luisa è una bella ragazza
Luisa is a beautiful girl
is less powerful than
Luisa è una ragazza bella
Luisa is a beautiful girl
Sometimes the adjective before the noun has a descriptive function, while after it has a distinctive function
Luigi è venuto con la sua bella figlia
Luigi has come with his beautiful daughter
Luigi è venuto con la figlia bella
Luigi has come with his daughter, the beautiful one
In some cases, the different position can influence the meaning of the sentence.
Il nostro vicino è un uomo povero
Our neighbor is a poor man
Il nostro vicino è un pover’uomo
Our neighbor is a mean man
There are adjectives that are used only after the noun. They indicate:
italiano, tedesco, americano, etc.
democratico, socialista, comunista, etc.
destro, sinistro, etc.
location or position
cieco, gobbo, etc.
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.
A mio padre piace vivere pericolosamente
My father likes to live dangerously
Io amo gli sport pericolosi
I love dangerous sports
Sono molto felice
I am really happy
Ho molti motivi per essere felice
I have a lot of reasons to be happy
Buono is an adjective, while bene is the corresponding adverb.
In Italia si mangia bene
In Italy they eat well
La pasta è buona
The pasta is good
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
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