Italian Adjectives

You may remember way back in school, your teacher will have told you that an adjective is a describing word. Well, just like in English, an Italian adjective is added to a noun to give it a quality or to define it in a better way.

You could say that adjectives are all about making the noun better.

Whether it's in English, Italian, or any other language, a world without adjectives would be a very dull and boring world indeed. There would be no fast cars, they'd just be cars. No sunny days, they'd just be days...

So, let's celebrate the power of the descriptive word, and find out all about Italian adjectives.

How to pronounce Italian adjectives

Here are some Italian sentences using adjectives to get you started. Further on in this lesson we will look at the pronunciation of these and more Italian adjectives.

  • Il cielo azzurro mi diverte - The blue sky amuses me
  • Ho bisogno di una sciarpa e una giacca nuove - I need a new scarf and a new jacket
  • Il gioco nuovo - The new toy
  • La casa nuova - The new house
  • L’uomo egoista - The egoist man
  • Gli uomini gentili - The kind men
  • Il muro rosa - The pink wall
  • C’era un grande lago - There was a big lake
  • Luisa è una bella ragazza - Luisa is a beautiful girl
  • Luigi è venuto con la sua bella figlia - Luigi has come with his beautiful daughter

Let's get started...

According to the noun it's linked to, adjectives can have:


An attributive function, when it is linked directly to a noun.

Il cielo azzurro mi diverte.

The blue sky amuses me.

A predicative function, when it is linked to the noun through the verb essere, to be.

Il cielo è azzurro.

The sky is blue.

Adjectives agree always on genre and number with the noun. If they're linked to more than one noun and just one of them is masculine, the adjectives are all defined as masculine.

Ho bisogno di una sciarpa (f) e una giacca (f) nuove.

I need a new scarf and a new jacket.

Ho bisogno di un pullover (m) e una giacca (f) nuovi.

I need a new pullover and a new jacket.

Italian Adjectives: forms and examples

The forms of the adjectives:

1. Adjectives ending on masculine singular with –o

nuov-o (M)

nuov-a (F)

Singular

nuov-i (M)

nuov-e (F)

Plural

Il gioco nuovo

The new toy

I giochi nuovi

The new toys

La casa nuova

The new house

le case nuove

The new houses

2. Adjectives ending on masculine singular with –ista

egoist-a (M)

egoist-a (F)

Singular

egoist-i (M)

egoist-e (F)

Plural

L’uomo egoista

The egoist man

La donna egoista

The egoist woman

Gli uomini egoisti

The egoist men

Le donne egoiste

The egoist women

3. Adjectives ending on masculine singular with –e

gentil-e (M)

gentil-e (F)

Singular

gentil-i (M)

gentil-i (F)

Plural

L’uomo gentile

The kind man

La donna gentile

The kind woman

Gli uomini gentili

The kind men

Le donne gentili

The kind women

4. The following adjectives have an invariable form:

  • pari (pair) and dispari (odd)
  • adjectives of colors, which derive from nouns: rosa, ocra, viola, nocciola, marrone
  • adjectives composed by the prefix anti + noun: antinebbia (fog lights), antifurto (anti-theft)

Il muro rosa

The pink wall

I muri rosa

The pink walls

La casa rosa

The pink house

Le case rosa

The pink houses

The Position of Italian Adjectives

The adjectives can be used before or after the noun.

C’era un grande lago

There was a big lake

C’era un lago grande

There was a big lake

The position gives a different tone to a sentence, according to these rules:


The adjective before the noun has less power than the one after.

Luisa è una bella ragazza

Luisa is a beautiful girl

is less powerful than

Luisa è una ragazza bella

Luisa is a beautiful girl

Sometimes the adjective before the noun has a descriptive function, while after it has a distinctive function

Luigi è venuto con la sua bella figlia

Luigi has come with his beautiful daughter

Luigi è venuto con la figlia bella

Luigi has come with his daughter, the beautiful one

In some cases, the different position can influence the meaning of the sentence.

Il nostro vicino è un uomo povero

Our neighbor is a poor man

Il nostro vicino è un pover’uomo

Our neighbor is a mean man

There are adjectives that are used only after the noun. They indicate:

italiano, tedesco, americano, etc.

nationality

democratico, socialista, comunista, etc.

membership

destro, sinistro, etc.

location or position

cieco, gobbo, etc.

physical characteristics

Adjectives and adverbs

While adjectives are connected with nouns, adverbs complete the verb. Usually adverbs have the same stem of the corresponding adjectives + the suffix -mente.

Adverb

A mio padre piace vivere pericolosamente

My father likes to live dangerously

Adjective

Io amo gli sport pericolosi

I love dangerous sports

Adverb

Sono molto felice

I am really happy

Adjective

Ho molti motivi per essere felice

I have a lot of reasons to be happy

Buono is an adjective, while bene is the corresponding adverb.

buono

good

bene

well

In Italia si mangia bene

In Italy they eat well

La pasta è buona

The pasta is good

Italian adjectives summary

  • Adjectives in Italian are conjugated as the nouns: masculine ends with -o (plural, -i), feminine with -a (plural -e).
  • As for the noun, a third type of adjectives ends with -e (plural, -i); these adjectives have the same form for masculine and feminine.
  • The adjectives can have an attributive or predicative function.
  • Usually the position of the adjectives in Italian language is after the noun, especially if the adjective indicates color or nationality. Most of the Italian adjectives can be used either before or after the noun.
  • Adverbs are built using the stem of the corresponding adjective + the suffix -mente
For more on Italian grammar check out these lessons! A presto!
Maria Di Lorenzi
Rocket Italian

Rocket Reinforcement

Reinforce your learning from this lesson with the Rocket Reinforcement tools! Improve your knowledge and retention of the Italian you learn!

Hear It Say It!

0 / 46

Write It!

0 / 46

Know It!

0 / 46