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:

1) ending in -o, which changes in this way:

  • -o in the masculine singular (il ragazzo bello → the handsome boy)
  • -i in the masculine plural (i ragazzi bell→ the handsome boys)
  • -a in the feminine singular (la ragazza bell→ the beautiful girl)
  • -e in the feminine plural (le ragazze belle → the beautiful girls)

 2) ending in -e, which changes in this way:

  • -e in the masculine singular and in the feminine singular (il ragazzo intelligente, la ragazza intelligent→ the intelligent boy, the intelligent girl)
  • -i in the masculine plural and in the feminine plural (i ragazzi intelligenti, le ragazze intelligenti → the intelligent boys, the intelligent girls)

3) ending in -a (-asta, -ista, -ita, -ida, -ota), which changes in this way:

  • -a in the masculine singular and in the feminine singular (il ragazzo entusiasta, la ragazza entusiast→ the enthusiastic boy, the enthusiastic girl)
  • -i in the masculine plural (i ragazzi entusiasti → the enthusiastic boys)
  • -e in the feminine plural (le ragazze entusiaste → the enthusiastic girls)



-co (antìco – stàtico) ca whether the accent is on the penultimate or on the third last syllable (antìca – stàtica) chi if the accent is on the penultimate syllable (antìchi)

ci if the accent is on the third last syllable (stàtico)

che in any case
-go (largo) -ga (larga) ghi  (larghi) ghe (larghe)
-scio (liscio) -scia (liscia) -sci (lisci) sce (lisce)
-io i accented (pìo) ìa (pìa) -ii (pìi) ie (pìe)
io i non accented (gàio) ia (gàia) -i (gài) ie (gàie)
«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…) «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)

(il maglione rosa)


(la felpa blu)


(i pantaloni indaco)


(le orchidee rosa)



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


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


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!



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


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. 


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“. 


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!

Vediamo se hai appreso i contenuti di questa lezione! Prova a fare gli esercizi!

L’aggettivo prende il genere e il numero del nome a cui si riferisce.
Scegli il significato corretto da attribuire all’aggettivo POVERO nella seguente frase: “Ha perso entrambi i genitori, povero fanciullo!”
Volgi la frase “un padre molto premuroso” al femminile:
Seleziona tutte le forme corrette dell’aggettivo LARGO:
Scrivi la forma maschile dell’aggettivo ENTUSIASTA:
Volgi al plurale l’aggettivo ANTICO:
Volgi la frase “il mio miglior amico è intelligente” al femminile:

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