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Italian Adjectives

italian adjectives

Italian adjectives need to agree with the gender and number of the noun they accompany. As a result, many have four forms. Like nouns, masculine adjectives ending in -o replace this with -i in the plural, and feminine adjectives ending in -a replace this with -e:

Il ragazzo italiano -> I ragazzi italiani the Italian boys

La ragazza italiana -> le ragazze italiane the Italian girls

That said, Italian adjectives ending in -e have only two forms: -e in the singular in the singular and -i in the plural (masculine or feminine):

Il ragazzo/la ragazza inglese the English boy/girl

I ragazzi/le ragazze inglesi the English boys/girls

Typically, Italian adjectives are placed after the noun in Italian.

Comparatives and superlatives

Comparative adjectives (often made by adding -er in English) are formed with più…di more…than or meno…di less…than:

La giacca è più cara della gonna.

The jacket is more expensive than the skirt.

Il pantalone è meno caro della giacca.

The trousers are cheaper (“less expensive”) than the jacket. 

Superlative adjectives (often made by adding -est in English) are formed with il/la/i/le più/meno…di the most/least:

Maria è la più alta delle ragazze. Maria is the tallest of the girls.

Sono I giocattoli meno cari di tutti. They are the least expensive toys of all.

To reinforce an adjective that isn’t used comparatively (known as the absolute superlative), molto/-a/-i/-e very can be placed before it or the ending -issimo/-a/-i/-e very can be added to it:

Maria è molto alta. Maria is very tall.

Questi giocattoli sono carissimi. These toys are very expensive. 

Demonstrative adjectives

When used as Italian adjectives, questo and quello qualify a noun with which they need to agree:

Vorrei provare questi cappelli. I would like to try these hats.

Non questa giacca, quella giacca. Not this jacket, that jacket.

However, when quello is used as an adjective, it follows the same spelling ruled as the definite article the, changing form depending on the gender, number and initial letter(s) of the noun it precedes:

 

Noun starting with:

Definite article

quello (adj.)

Singular

a consonant (m.)

il

quel

s + consonant, z, gn, x

ps (m.)

lo

quello

a vowel (m./f.)

l’

quell’

any consonant (f.)

la

quella

Plural

a consonant (m.)

i

quei

s + consonant, z, gn, x, ps

or a vowel (m.)

gli

quegli

any letter (f.)

le

quelle

 

L’amico, quell’amico                                                                                          gli zaini, quegli zaini

The friend, that friend                                                                                          the backpacks, those backpacks 

To reinforce demonstratives, you can use the adverbs qui or qua here with questo and orthere with quello.

Vuoi questa qui o quella lì? Do you want this one (“here”) or that one (“there”)?

Voglio quell cappello là. I want that hat (“there”).

I know that I threw a lot at you there, but here’s a quick “cheat sheet” on Italian adjectives that I hope helps simplify things:

ADJECTIVES

Remember that Italian adjectives escribe a noun or pronoun:

  1. Adjectives must agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify
  2. Unlike adjectives in English, adjectives in Italian usually follow the noun they modify
  3. Most masculine adjectives end in -o in the singular and -I in the plural

-allegro -allegri

  1. Most feminine adjectives end in -a in the singular, and -e in the plural

-bassa -basse

  1. Some adjectives have the same form for both masculine and feminine

These adjectives end in -e in the singular, and -I in the plural

-la lezione facile (the easy lesson)

-le signore gentili (the polite ladies)

-lo student francese (the French student)

  1. Some common adjectives precede the noun they modify

-bello (beautiful, handsome)

-buono (good)

-grande (big, large)

-piccolo (small)

Italian demonstrative adjectives:

  1. “This”, “that”, “these”, those” always agree with the noun they accompany
  2. Masculine forms

Questo (this)

Quest’ (before a vowel)

Questi (these)

  1. Feminine forms

Questa (this)

Quest’ (before a vowel)

Queste (these)

  1. Masculine forms

Singular (that) Plural (those)

quello (before z or s consonant) quegli

quell’ (before a vowel) quegli

quel (before any other consonant) quei

  1. Feminine forms

Singular (that)                  Plural (those)

Quella                                    quelle

Quell’ (before a vowel)                  quelle

Possessive adjectives in Italian:

Unlike English, they agree with the possession, NOT with the possessor:

 

Singular

Plural

A. Masculine

 

 

 

il mio (my)

I miei

il tuo (your)

I tuoi

il suo (his, her, its)

I suoi

il nostro (our)

I nostri

il vostro (your)

I vostri

il loro (their)

I loro

B. Feminine

 

 

 

la mia (my)

Le mie

la tua (your)

Le tue

la sua (his, her, its)

Le sue

la nostra (our)

Le nostre

la vostra (your)

Le vostre

la loro (their)

Le loro

 

Comparatives and superlatives in Italian:

  1. The basic way to express comparison in Italian is to use più (more)

- Questo libro è più interessante. (This book is more interesting)

Meno (less)

- Maria è meno bella. (Maria is less beautiful.)

  1. Both più and meno are used with adjectives and adverbs.
  2. To express the “than” part of a comparison, di or che are used; di is used when two persons or things are compared using one adjective

- Maria è meno alta di Lola. (Maria is less tall than Lola.)

Che is used when only one person is mentioned in the sentence and the comparison is between two infinitives, two nouns or two adjectives

- Maria ama più la musica classica che la musica rock. (Maria loves classical music more than rock music.)

- Maria ama più nuotare che correre. (Maria loves swimming more than running.)

- Maria è più bella che intelligente. (Maria is more beautiful than smart.)

 Click here to learn about Italian pronouns, and here to learn about Italian grammar.