Demonstrative and Identifying Adjectives in Italian

This is a quite easy lesson! However, this doesn’t mean it is less important: demonstrative adjectives are essential in any kind of communication!

Italian Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives determine the POSITION, in time and space, of the noun they refer to, with respect to the person who speaks or writes.

They agree in gender and number with the noun they refer to.

In Italian, there are 3 demonstrative adjectives. Here you are all of their forms:

Masc. Sing.Fem. Sing. Masc. Plu.Fem. Plu.
Quello, quelQuellaQuelliQuelle
  • QUESTO/A/I/E  (this)→ it is used to indicate a thing or person that is close – in time and space – to both the speaker and the listener.

For example:

Voglio comprare questo vestito! → I want to buy this dress! (= I mean the dress that is close to me and to the person who is listening to me)

  • CODESTO/A/E/I (this, that)→ it is used to indicate a thing or person that is far from the speaker but that is close to the listener. However, today this distinction seems not to be so clear: actually, this word is disappearing almost completely. Its use is only related to highly formal and bureaucratic frameworks.

For example:

Si prega di rivolgersi a codesto Ministero per… → Please contact this Department for… (= notice the formality!).

  • QUEL (LO/A/E/I) (that) → it is used to indicate a thing or person that is far – in time and space – from both the speaker and the listener.

For example:

Voglio comprare quel vestito che è in vetrina! → I want to buy that dress that is in the shop window! (= I mean the dress that is far from me and from the person I’m talking to, because it is in the shop window)


The masculine demonstrative adjective “quello” presents different forms according to the letter the following noun begins with, just like what happens with articles!

For example:

Quell’albero, quello stivale, quello gnomo (that tree, that boot, that dwarf) → “quello” (plural: quegli) before nouns starting with vowel (quell’), s + consonantps-, gn-.

Quel vestito, quel pianoforte, quel giardino (that dress, that piano, that garden) → “quel” (plural: quei) before all other nouns starting with consonant (tranne i casi prima citati).

If you don’t remember how to agree adjectives in Italian, review it with us!

Italian Identifying Adjectives

Instead, identifying adjectives determine IDENTITY and EQUALITY among people or things.

They take gender and number of the noun they refer to and they take the meaning of “same“, “identical“. In Italian, the identifying adjectives are two. Here you are all their forms:

Masc. Sing.Fem. Sing.Masc. Plu.Fem. Plu.

Usually, in their identifying function, these adjectives precede the noun they refer to.

For example:

Oggi mia madre cucina lo stesso pranzo di ieri. (Today my mother cooks the same lunch of yesterday)

Oggi lui indossa il medesimomaglione di ieri. (Today he wears the same sweater of yesterday)

*Medesimo is less frequent in the everyday language


Besides their identifying function, these adjectives can also be used to strengthen the noun (or pronoun) they refer to, in order to underline its identity.

In this form, they take the meaning of “proprio lui/lei” (himself / herself), “lui/lei in persona” (he/she in person) and they can go both before and after the noun they refer to.

For example:

Maria stessa si è accorta di aver sbagliato strada.Maria herself (= she in person!) realized she had taken the wrong direction.

or, with the same meaning,

La stessa Maria si è accorta di aver sbagliato strada. 

Discover all the other types of adjectives: indefinite, possessive, interrogative!

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

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