Adjectives I

Adjectives in Italian Grammar, Learn Italian

ADJECTIVES (aggettivi)

Adjectives are the part of speech that is added to a noun to describe it or to determine it more precisely. Adjectives have not an independent existence, but must always be used together with the noun to which they refer.

The adjective, in relation to the noun to which it refers, has two basic functions:

1) Attributive function: When the adjective is part of the group of the noun and it is joined directly to that noun.

Examples:

Il libro rosso costa 12 Euro (The red book costs 12 Euros)

La bambina piccola canta un canzone (The little girl sings a song)

2) Predicative function: when the adjective is part of the group of the verb e does not join the noun directly but, through the verb “essere”, “diventare” or “sembrare”

Examples:

Il libro che costa 12 Euro è rosso (The book which costs 12 Euros is red)

La bambina che canta una canzone è piccola (The girl who’s singing a song is little)

AGREEMENT OF ADJECTIVES

Adjectives in Italian agree in gender and number with the noun they describe:

1. In general, adjectives ending in “-o” have four forms:

Masculine Sing. Masculine Plur Feminine Sing. Feminine Plur.
-o -i -a -e

Examples:

Il libro vecchio, la casa vecchia, i libri vecchi, le case vecchie



2. Adjectives ending in “-e” have two forms:

Masculine Sing. Masculine Plur Feminine Sing. Feminine Plur.
-e -i -e -i

Examples:

Il ragazzo gentile, I ragazzi gentili, la ragazza gentile, le ragazze gentili

3. Adjectives that end in “-ista” and have the same form for masculine and feminine singular have three forms:

Masculine Sing. Masculine Plur Feminine Sing. Feminine Plur.
-ista -isti -ista -iste

Examples:

Un signore ottimista, dei signori ottimisti, una signora ottimista, delle signore ottimiste

4. Adjectives ending in “-one” have four forms:

Masculine Sing. Masculine Plur Feminine Sing. Feminine Plur.
-one -oni -ona -one

Examples:

Un bimbo chiacchierone, dei bimbi chiacchieroni, una bimba chiacchierona, delle bimbe

chiacchierone



5. There are a few adjectives that are invariable and have only one form for all genders and numbers:

Pari (even), dispari (odd), impari (unequal), blu (blue), rosa (pink), viola (violet), marrone

(brown)

Examples.

Il fiore blu, i fiori blu, la giacca blu, le giacche blu

Il tacco marrone, i tacchi marrone, la scarpa marrone, le scarpe marrone



6. Sometimes the adjective may refer to more than one noun. In this case the adjective agrees with the nouns as following:


a) If there are two or more masculine nouns, the adjective is masculine plural;


Examples:

Antonio e Marco sono svegli

b) If there are one masculine noun and one or more feminine nouns, the adjective is

masculine plural;


Examples:

Anna, Marco e Paola sono svegli



a) If there are two or more feminine nouns, the adjective is feminine plural;


Examples:

Anna e Paola sono sveglie





POSITION OF ADJECTIVES


Adjectives, in the attributive function, can precede or follow the noun they refer. Often, the different  position of the adjective may produce changes of meaning in the phrase.


The positioning of the adjective after the noun emphasizes its size, while adjectives that are normally placed after the noun may precede it for emphasis.


Example:

Una domanda semplice  ( An easy question)

Una semplice domanda  (Only one question)

Una famiglia grande  (A family with many members)

Una grande famiglia  (A family rich and powerful)


Adjectives denoting religion, nationality, shape, color and the past participle used as an adjective, normally follow the noun.

Example:

La bandiera americana (The American flag)

La religione cattolica (The catholic religion)

Una scatola tonda (A rounded box)

La casa bianca (The white house)

Un orologio rotto (A broken watch)



However there is a number of adjectives that normally precede the noun:

Bello (beautiful), buono (good), breve (short), brutto (ugly), cattivo (bad), giovane (young),

grande (big / large), grosso (big / large), largo (wide), lungo (long), piccolo (small), vecchio

(old)



IRREGULAR ADJECTIVES

There are a few adjectives that have an irregular form when precede the noun. When they follow the noun, they are formed regularly.

1. The adjective bello has forms like the definite article:


Bello (plural: Begli) = Masculine, used before nouns beginning with “s” + another consonant or beginning with “z”, “gn”, “ps”, “pn”, “x” or “y” / “i” + vowel.

Bel (plural: Bei) = Masculine, used before nouns beginning with consonant when “bello” is not required.

Bella (plural: Belle) = Feminine, used before nouns beginning with all consonants.

Bell’ (plural: Begli / Belle) = Masculine / Feminine, with nouns beginning with vowel.


Examples:

Marco è un bel ragazzo (Marco is a handsome guy)

Monica è una bella ragazza (Monica is a beautiful girl)



2. The adjective buono is irregular only in the singular and has forms like the indefinite article:

Buono = Masculine, used before nouns beginning with “s” + another consonant or beginning with “z”, “gn”, “ps”, “pn”, “x” or “y” / “i” + vowel.

Buon = Masculine, used before nouns beginning with consonant or vowel, when “Buono” is not required.

Buona = Feminine, used before nouns beginning with all consonants.

Buon’ = Feminine, goes with nouns beginning with vowel.


Examples:

Antonio è un buon uomo (Antonio is a good man)

Questa è una buona notizia (This is a good news)


3. The adjective grande is irregular only in the singular however the use of the regular form has become very common:


Grande =  Used before nouns beginning with “s” + another consonant or beginning with “z”, “gn”, “ps”, “pn”, “x”.

Gran / Grande = Used before nouns beginning with consonant or vowel, when “Buono” is not required.

Grand’ / Grande = goes before nouns beginning with vowel.


Examples:

Un grande / grand’amore (A great love)

Una grande scoperta (A big discovery)

Una grande / gran finestra (A large window)

By Arnaldo Colonna

 


Learn Italian - Italian for beginners - Adjectives in Italian


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Thursday, June 16TH, 2011 by Guest

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