Easy Learning Italian

How to make adjectives agree - Easy Learning Grammar Italian

1  The basics

  • When you look up an adjective in a dictionary you find the masculine singular form.
  • If you want to use an adjective to describe a feminine noun you often have to change the ending.
  • If you want to use an adjective to describe a plural noun you nearly always have
    to change the ending.

2  How to make adjectives feminine

  • If the masculine adjective ends in –o, change –o to –a.
un ragazzo simpaticoa nice boy
una ragazza simpaticaa nice girl
un film italianoan Italian film
una squadra italianaan Italian team
  • You don’t change the ending for the feminine:
  • if the masculine adjective ends in –e
un libro inglesean English book
una famiglia inglesean English family
un treno velocea fast train
una macchina velocea fast car
  • Note that adjectives such as italiano, inglese, francese do not start with
    a capital letter in Italian.
  • in the case of some colours
un calzino rosaa pink sock
una maglietta rosaa pink T-shirt
un tappeto blua blue rug
una macchina blua blue car
un vestito beigea beige suit
una gonna beigea beige skirt
  • Note that these adjectives don’t change in the plural either.
  • if the adjective ends with a consonant
un gruppo popa pop group
la musica poppop music
un tipo snoba posh guy
una persona snoba posh person
  • Note that these adjectives don’t change in the plural either.
TipIf you are female, make sure you always use a feminine adjective when talking about yourself:
Sono stanca.I’m tired.
Sono pronta.I’m ready.

3  How to make adjectives plural

  • If the masculine singular adjective ends in –o, change –o to –i.
un fiore rossoa red flower
dei fiori rossired flowers
un computer nuovoa new computer
dei computer nuovinew computers
  • If the feminine singular adjective ends in –a, change –a to –e.
una strada pericolosaa dangerous road
delle strade pericolosedangerous roads
una gonna neraa black skirt
delle gonne nereblack skirts
  • If the adjective ends in –e, change –e to –i for both masculine and feminine plural.
un esercizio difficilea difficult exercise
degli esercizi difficilidifficult exercises
un sito interessantean interesting site
dei siti interessantiinteresting sites
una storia tristea sad story
delle storie tristisad stories
una valigia pesantea heavy case
delle valigie pesantiheavy cases
  • Some adjectives do not change in the plural.
un paio di guanti rosaa pair of pink gloves
delle tende blublue curtains
dei gruppi poppop groups
  • Adjectives that do not change for the feminine or plural are called invariable, which is abbreviated to inv in some dictionaries.
TipRemember that spaghetti, ravioli, lasagne and so on are plural nouns in Italian, so you must use plural adjectives with them.
Sono buoni gli spaghetti?Is the spaghetti nice?
Le lasagne sono finite.The lasagne is all gone.
  • Note that when you’re describing a couple consisting of a man and a woman
    or a group of people, use a masculine plural adjective unless the group consists entirely of females.
Paolo e Loredana sono pronti.Paolo and Loredana are ready.
I bambini sono stanchi.The children are tired.
Le ragazze sono stanche.The girls are tired.

4  Irregular adjectives

  • There are three very common adjectives which are different from other adjectives
    bello, buono and grande.
  • When the adjective bello (meaning beautiful) is used in front of a masculine
    noun it has different forms depending on which letter follows it, just like the definite article.

bello
Masculine
Singular
Feminine
Singular
Masculine
Plural
Feminine
Plural
used before a nounbelbellabeibelle
used after a verb or a nounbellobellabellibelle
bel tempobeautiful weather
bei nomibeautiful names
Il tempo era bello.The weather was beautiful.
I fiori sono belli.The flowers are beautiful.
  • bell’ is used before vowels in the masculine and feminine singular forms.
un bell’alberoa beautiful tree
  • bello is used in front of z and s + another consonant in the masculine singular form.
un bello strumentoa beautiful instrument
  • begli is used in front of vowels, z and s + another consonant in the masculine plural form.
begli alberibeautiful trees
begli strumentibeautiful instruments
  • The adjective buono (meaning good) is usually shortened to buon when it comes before a masculine singular noun.
Buon viaggio!Have a good journey!
un buon uomoa good man
  • The shortened form of buono is not used in front of nouns that start with z or s
    + another consonant.
un buono studentea good student
  • The adjective grande (meaning big, large or great) is often shortened to gran when it comes before a singular noun starting with a consonant.
la Gran BretagnaGreat Britain
un gran numero di macchinea large number of cars
Key points
  • In Italian adjectives agree with the person or thing they are describing.
  • Adjectives ending in –o in the masculine have different endings in the feminine and plural forms.
  • Some adjectives don’t have a different feminine or plural form.

5  Where do you put the adjective?

  • You put most adjectives AFTER the noun.
un gesto spontaneoa spontaneous gesture
una partita importantean important match
capelli biondiblonde hair
  • Note that if you have two adjectives you link them with e (meaning and).
ragazze antipatiche e nasty rude girls
maleducate
  • The meaning of some adjectives changes depending on whether they come
    after or before the noun.
gente poverapoor people BUT
Povera Anna!Poor (meaning unfortunate) Anna!
un uomo grandea big man BUT
una grande sorpresaa great surprise
una macchina nuovaa new car BUT
la sua nuova ragazzahis new (meaning latest) girlfriend
una casa vecchiaan old house BUT
un mio vecchio amicoan old (meaning long-standing) friend
of mine
una borsa caraan expensive handbag BUT
un caro amicoa dear friend
  • Note that if you add molto (meaning very) to an adjective, the adjective always goes after the noun.
una bella casaa nice house
una casa molto bellaa very nice house
  • Some types of adjectives always go in front of the noun:
  • adjectives that are used to point things out, such as questo (meaning this) and quello (meaning that)
Questo telefonino è di mio fratello.This mobile phone is my brother’s.
Quello studente è un mio amico.That student is a friend of mine.
  • possessive adjectives such as mio (meaning my), tuo (meaning your) and
    suo (meaning his or her)
mio padremy father
tuo fratelloyour brother
suo maritoher husband
  • ogni (meaning each, every), qualche (meaning some) and nessuno (meaning no)
ogni giornoevery day
qualche voltasometimes
Non c’è nessun bisogno di andare.There’s no need to go.
  • question words
Quali programmi hai?What plans have you got?
Quanto pane hai comprato?How much bread did you buy?
  • For more information on Questions, see Questions.
Key points
  • Most Italian adjectives go after the noun.
  • The meaning of some adjectives changes depending on whether they come before or after the noun.

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