Italian ADJECTIVES: Flexion, Position and Exceptions!

Adjectives are the essence of every language… but how are adjectives in Italian formed? How are they used? What are their endings? Find out all that you need to know about adjectives in this great video-lesson! After the video, you will find, as usual, the written explanation and the exercises!

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Adjectives in Italian

The adjective expresses a quality or a characteristic of the noun it refers to and it agrees in gender and number to that noun. 

But how are the feminine and the plural of the adjectives formed? Simply by changing the ending of the masculine singular!

The possible endings of the adjectives in the masculine singular are 3:

Masc. Sing. Femin. Sing. Masc. Plu. Femin. Plu.
1° group  -o (caro)  -a (cara)  -i (cari)  -e (care)
2° group  -e (triste)  -e (triste)  -i (tristi)  -i (tristi)
3° group  -a (egoista)  -a (egoista)  -i (egoisti)  -e (egoiste)

 

PARTICULAR FORMS OF FEMININE AND PLURAL

 

MASCULINE SINGULAR  FEMININE SINGULAR
-co (antìco – stàtico) ca whether the accent is on the penultimate or on the third last syllable (antìca – stàtica)
-go (largo) -ga (larga)
-scio (liscio) -scia (liscia)
-io i accented (pìo) ìa (pìa)
–io i not accented (gàio) ia (gàia)
«bello» before nouns that begin with a vowel (bell’albero), with s + consonant, z-, gn-, ps- (bello sport, bello psicologo…) or far from the noun (il cane è bello)

«bel» before all other nouns that begin with a consonant (bel cane)

«bella» in every case (bell’isola, bella spiaggia, bella ragazza, la casa è bella…)
rosabluindaco (il maglione rosa) rosabluindaco (la felpa è blu)

 

MASCULINE PLURAL  FEMININE PLURAL
–chi if the accent is on the penultimate syllable (antìchi)

–ci if the accent is on the third last syllable (stàtici)

–che in any case
ghi  (larghi) ghe (larghe)
-sci (lisci) sce (lisce)
-ii (pìi) ie (pìe)
-i (gài) ie (gàie)
«belli» if far from the noun (i fiori sono belli, belli questi pantaloni…)

«begli» before nouns that begin with a vowel (begli alberi), with s + consonant, z-, gn-, ps- (begli sport, begli psicologi…)

«bei» before all other nouns that begin with a consonant (bei cani)

«belle» (belle cose, belle isole, belle psicologhe)
rosabluindaco (i pantaloni indaco) rosabluindaco (le orchidee rosa)

 

AGREEMENT OF THE ADJECTIVES 

The adjective always agree with the noun it refers to. And that’s not something new. 

But what happens when there are more than one noun?

1) If the nouns have same gender, then the adjective keeps that gender and takes plural number

Examples:

La rosa e la margherita sono belle (The rose and the daisy are beautiful)

Il tulipano e il ciclamino sono belli (The tulip and the cyclamen are beautiful)

2) Instead, if the nouns have different genders, then the adjective takes the plural masculine number

Examples:

Maria e Paolo sono simpatici (Maria and Paolo are friendly)

La rosa e il tulipano sono belli (The rose and the tulip are beautiful)

Review masculine and feminine in Italian!

 

POSITION OF THE ADJECTIVE

In Italian, the position of the adjective is not fixed, therefore it can be placed both before and after the noun it refers to. This only depends on the intention of the person who speaks or writes: in fact, the adjective after the noun is stronger than the adjective before the noun

Example:

Mio zio ha un’enorme casa / Mio zio ha una casa enorme! (My uncle has a big house / My uncle has a very big house!)

In the last sentence, the adjective has a bigger emphasis and it is used to highlight the quality it conveys. 

BE CAREFUL!

The adjective “povero” (poor) is an exception: if put before a noun it means “unlucky“, if put after a noun, instead, it means “without money“. 

Examples:

Quel pover’uomo ha perso la moglie (That unlucky man lost his wife).

Ho dato 5 euro ad un uomo povero (I gave 5 euros to a poor man).

 

However, there are certain adjectives that always go after the noun. They are those adjectives indicating:

    • nationalityla capitale francese (the French capital)
    • belonging to a specific categoryun pittore impressionista (an impressionist painter)
    • place and positionla mano destra (the right hand)
    • a physical featureun uomo zoppo (a crippled man)
    • color, shape, materialuna rosa blu, una tovaglia tonda (a blue rose, a round tablecloth)

Discover all other lessons!

 

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

 

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