How to indicate an indefinite quantity? Find it out in this super video-lesson about indefinite adjectives! After having seen this video, don’t forget to do the exercises to verify if you really understood the contents of the lesson and read the written explanation if something is not clear!
Indefinite Adjectives in Italian
The indefinite adjectives indicate a non precise quantity. They agree in gender and number with the noun they refer to.
Doubts about the flexion of the adjectives? Watch our superb video-lesson!
In Italian, there are many indefinite adjectives.
Some of them indicate a single quantity:
POCO → indicates a small quantity (example: Quando ho poco tempo, cucino un piatto veloce → When I have little time, I cook a quick dish)
PARECCHIO, VARIO → indicate a bigger quantity with respect to “poco” and a smaller quantity with respect to “molto” (example: Ho provato parecchi ristoranti, ma il vostro è sicuramente il migliore! → I tried various restaurants, but yours is definitely the best!)
MOLTO → indicates a big quantity (example: Quando ho molto tempo, preparo piatti complessi → When I have a lot of time, I prepare complex dishes)
TANTO → indicates, exactly like “molto”, a big quantity (example: Quando ho tanto tempo, preparo piatti complessi → When I have a lot of time, I prepare complex dishes)
TROPPO → indicates an excessive quantity, higher than normal (example: In questo periodo ho troppe cose da fare e sono molto nervosa → In this period, I have too many things to do and I’m very nervous)
Other indefinite adjectives, instead, indicate a part of a whole:
QUALCHE → means “a certain amount of” and it is always followed by a singular noun, although it refers to more than one thing! (example: Roberto mangia sempre qualche biscotto prima di cenare → Roberto always eats some biscuits before having dinner)
ALCUNO* → in the singular, it is just used in negative sentences, as a synonym of “no” (example: Non ho alcuna voglia di studiare oggi! → I have no intention to study today!). In the plural, instead, it means “some”, that is a not so high number (example: Ho già letto alcune pagine del libro ma non so quando lo finirò → I have already read some pages of the book, but I don’t know when I am going to finish it)
CERTO → means “certain” and it is usually put before the noun! If pur after, instead, it takes a completely different meaning, as it means “sure” (example: Devo darti certi libri che mi hai prestato il mese scorso → I have to give you certain books you lent me last month BUT Il giudice ha bisogno di fatti certi [= sicuri] per la sentenza → The judge needs concrete [= sure] facts for the judgement)
ALTRO → means “further”, “other” (example: Non ho voglia di un’altra fetta di ciambella → I don’t want another piece of donut)
Then, there are some indefinite adjectives indicating a whole, a totality:
TUTTO → indicates the totality in a general sense (example: Non mangiare tutta la torta! [sempre seguito da un articolo!] → Don’t eat all the cake! [always followed by an article!])
OGNI → indicates a totality of things or people but considered singularly, taken in an individual way. Therefore it is always followed by the singular (example: Ogni adulto oggi possiede un cellulare → Every adult today has a smartphone)
CIASCUNO*→ it’s a synonym of “every” and it is used in the same way (example: Ciascun candidato deve presentare il proprio curriculum → Every candidate must present his or her own c.v.)
QUALUNQUE, QUALSIASI → they consider every element of a whole as possible choices, “one between these” (example: Mangia qualsiasi cosa abbia zucchero / Mangia qualunque cosa abbia zucchero → He eats anything with sugar)
Finally, there are two indefinite adjectives which give a negative sense to the sentence:
ALCUNO* → only in the singular. It is used in sentences already containing an other negation in order to strengthen its meaning (example: Non ho alcuna voglia di studiare oggi! → I don’t have any intention to study today!)
NESSUNO* → it can be used as “alcuno” in sentences containing an other negation (example: Non ho nessuna voglia di studiare oggi! → I have no intention to study today!) BUT it can also be used to give a negative sense to the sentence, taking the meaning of “not even one” (example: Nessuna ricetta è migliore di quella di mia nonna → No recipe is better than the one of my grandmother).
* → Adjectives marked with this symbol, in the masculine singular, have two possible forms, according to the first letter of the noun that follows:
ALCUNO – CIASCUNO – NESSUNO are used, like the article UNO, before the nouns starting with z-, s + consonant, pn-, ps-, gn- (ciascuno psicologo, nessuno zaino…).
ALCUN – CIASCUN – NESSUN are used, like the article UN, before the nouns starting with vowel or consonant, except for those cases mentioned before (alcun dubbio, ciascun albero, nessun cane…).
Have also a look to our lesson about the articles.