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Italian adjectives

Adjectives a very important part of a language and are used to describe things. In Italian, adjectives must be adapted to gender and number. In addition, there are two groups of adjectives that have different declinations. Let’s see together the main rules regarding Italian adjectives.

What is an adjective

An adjective is a word that describes a noun, such as a person, an animal or a thing. Adjectives can describe many characteristics, such as the shape (rotondo round), the color (rosso red), the size (grande large), feelings (allegro cheerful) and so on.

Italian adjectives

In Italian there are two adjective groups, depending on their ending vowel: O adjectives and E adjectives.

Opiccolosmall, little
Egrandebig, large

O and E adjectives have different declination patterns. Let’s learn how they behave!

O Adjectives

Adjectives ending with O have four forms, varying according to gender (masculine/singular) and number (singular/plural).

 singularplural
o > ail libro piccolo
the small book
i libri piccoli
small books
a > ela casa piccola
the small house
le case piccole
small houses

Some common O adjectives

caldowarm, hot
freddocold
piccolosmall, little
carinopretty, nice
allegrocheerful
bello*beautiful
bruttougly
buono*good
cattivobad, evil
gialloyellow
rossored
neroblack
biancowhite
azzurrolight blue

*Only if bello and buono are placed after the noun:
Il tuo cane è bello. Your dog is beautiful.
Il caffè è buono. The coffee is good.

If they are placed before the noun, they behave differently:
Hai un bel cane. You have a beautiful dog.
Bevo un buon caffè. I drink a good coffee.
This is a topic for another lesson 🙂

E Adjectives

Adjectives ending with -e have only two forms, varying only according to number (singular/plural).

 singularplural
e > iil libro | la casa grande
the big book | house
i libri | le case grandi
big books | houses

Some common E adjectives

dolcesweet
grandebig, large
felicehappy
tristesad
interessanteinteresting
divertentefun
verdegreen
marronebrown
arancioneorange
italianobello aggettivi declinazione - Italian adjectives

Nouns and adjectives

If you compare the declination of nouns (we’ve learned it here) and adjectives you’ll notice they behave the same way:

SingularPlural
o > iNoun
Adjective
libro
piccolo
libri
piccoli
a > eNoun
Adjective
casa
piccola
case
piccole
e > iNoun
Adjective
cane
grande
cani
grandi

It looks very easy, but you should pay attention when you have nouns and adjectives that belong to different groups, because in that cases you’ll have different endings.

Il tuo cane è piccolo o grande?Is your dog small or big?
Le bambine sono allegre e felici.The girls are cheerful and happy.
Mangio una fragola piccola e dolce.I eat a small and sweet strawberry
Le foglie autunnali sono rosse, gialle, arancioni e marroni.The autumn leaves are red, yellow, orange and brown.

Esercizio

Impara di più!

List of 50 useful adjectives here
Adjectives of taste here
Read a story in Italian here

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