Adjective (Aggettivo)
 
 
As the nouns, the adjectives in Italian are gendered masculine or feminine. Adjectives undergo predictable changes between masculine and feminine forms, and between singular and plural forms. Like in other Romance languages, adjectives in Italian agree in gender and number with the nouns they refer to, cf.:
 
  Number   Gender  
    Masculine Feminine
  Singular   ragazzo alto tall boy ragazza alta tall girl
  Plural   ragazzi alti tall boys ragazze alte tall girls
 
 
Gender of the Adjectives (Genere degli Aggettivi)

Adjectives of two forms

The adjectives ending in masculine by -o change it to -a to form feminine, cf.:

These adjectives are descended from the Latin Adjectives of 1st and 2nd Declensions.
 
 
Adjectives of one form

Many adjectives have common form for masculine and feminine ending in -e, cf.:
 
  • uomo felice happy man 
  • foglio verde green sheet of paper  
  • ragazzo danese Danish boy  
  • diario personale (personal) diary  
  • sforzo comune common effort  
  • donna felice happy woman 
  • carta verde green paper 
  • ragazza danese Danlish girl 
  • camera personale personal chamber 
  • causa comune common cause 
 
These adjectives are inherited from the Latin adjectives of the third declension.

The adjectives in -ista also have one form for masculine and feminine, cf.:
 
  • partito comunista (m.) 
  • organizzazione comunista (f.) 
 
 
Plural of the Adjectives (Plurale degli Aggettivi)

Plural of the adjectives is formed like that of the nouns, cf.:
 
  Endings Examples
  Sg. Pl. Singular Plural
  -o -i nero black (m)
piccolo little (m)
arrabbiato enraged (m)
neri 
piccoli 
arrabbiati
  -a -e nera black (f)
piccola little (f)
arrabbiata enraged (f)
nere 
piccole 
arrabbiate
  -e -i verde green (mf)
grande big, great (mf)
inglese English (mf)
verdi 
grandi 
inglesi
 
Note: The adjectives in -ista have different plural endings for masculine and feminine:
 
  Number   Gender  
    Masculine Feminine
  Singular   -ista -ista
      partito comunista organizzazione comunista
  Plural   -isti -iste
      partiti comunisti organizzazioni comuniste
 
 
Phonetic and Orthographic Particularities
(Particolarità Fonetiche ed Ortografiche)
 
  Endings Examples
  Sg. Pl. Singular Plural
  -ico -ici pacifico pacific (m) pacifici pacific
  -ica -iche pacifica pacific (f) pacifiche pacific
  -co -chi bianco white (m) bianchi white
  -ca -che bianca white (f) bianche white
  -go -ghi largo large (m) larghi large
  -ga -ghe larga large (f) larghe large
  -io -i vecchio old (m) vecchi old
  -ia -ie vecchia old (f) vecchie old
  -ìo -ìi necessario necessary (m) necessarii necessary
 
 
Invariable Adjectives

The adjectives of colors that derive from nouns are invariable:

The adjective blu blue, navy, which is monosyllabic, is also invariable. Adjectives ending by stressed vowel are invariable.  
Apocoped Forms

A few adjectives drop their final vowels when they precede the nouns they modify, cf.:
 
Gender
Position Meaning Examples  
Before the nouns After the nouns Before the nouns After the nouns
m
buon buono good un buon ragazzo un ragazzo buono
f
buona buona   una buona donna una donna buona
 
buon'   buon'ora ora buona
mf
gran grande big, great un gran giardin un giardino grande
 
grand'   un grand' uomo un uomo grande
m
questo not used this questo giorno --
 
quest' not used   quest'uomo --
f
questa not used   questa donna --
 
quest' not used   quest'ora --
m
san santo holy San Giuseppe un uomo santo
 
sant'   Sant' Agostino  

Abbreviations: [C] consonant, [V] vowel.

The adjectives bello beautiful, handsome, nice, fine and quello that also have shortened forms which are similar to those of the definite article, cf.:
 
 
In front of word
beginning with:
  bello Examples   quello Examples
Sg.
m
[C]-
  bel bel giorno   quel quel giorno
s[C]-, z-
  bello bello strato   quello quello strato
[V]-
  bell' bell'uomo   quell' quell'uomo
f
[C]-
  bella bella donna   quella quella donna
[V]-
  bell' bell'ora   quell' quell'ora
Pl.
m
[C]-
  bei bei capelli   quei quei capelli
s[C]-, z-, [V]-
  begli begli uomini   quegli quegli uomini
f
all cases
  belle belle donne   quelle quelle donne
 
Examples:

Bello retains its full form when it follows the noun it modifies or the verb essere. Quello and questo always precede the noun.
 
 
Degree of the Adjectives (Grado degli Aggettivi)
 
Comparative Degree
     
 
Formation
Examples
of Superiority
più + ADJ + di
Mario è più alto di Giovanni.
Mario is taller than Giovanni.
of Equality
ADJ + come
(tanto + ADJ + quanto)
E` carina come sua madre.
(She) is as pretty as her mother.
of Inferiority
meno + ADJ. + di
Mario è meno alto di Giovanni.
Mario is less tall than Giovanni.
     
Superlative Degree
     
 
Formation
Examples
Absolute Synthectic
+ -issimo

See the Latin Superlative Degree

duro hard : durissimo 
facile easy : facilissimo 
urgente urgent : urgentissimo
Absolute Analytical
molto + ADJ.
See also below.
molto grande very big
molto facile  very easy
Relative of Superiority
DEF. ART.più + ADJ.
Siamo i più veloci. 
We are the quickliest.

Era la più brava (abile)
She was the most skilful.

Relativo of Inferiority
DEF. ART.meno + ADJ.
Era la meno brava (abile)
She was the least skilful.
 
The analytical forms follow the pattern of the Latin Periphrastic Degrees.

According to the official grammar a lot of adjectives may not form the absolute superlative degree by -ísimo. These are:

  1. all the adjectives terminated by -uo: continuo continuous, mutuo mutual etc.;
  2. the greatest part of the adjectives terminated by -io (-ío): sobrio sober etc.;
  3. all the adjectives terminated by -eo that are stressed on the antepenultimate syllable: momentaneo momentary, spontaneo spontaneous etc.;
  4. all the adjectives terminated by a stressed vowel.
  5. adjectives that seem senseless to be graded, such as: immortale immortal, eterno eternal, infinito infinite;
  6. from the adjectives: superbio haughty, pacifico pacific, cortese courteous, brutale brute.
The Absolute Superlative degree may be formed analytically also by using the adverbs: Irregular Degrees (Comparativi e Superlativi irregolari)

Some adjectives derive their synthetic comparatives and superlatives from different roots:
 
Adjective
Comparative 
Superlative
Regular Irregular Regular Irregular
alto high
più alto
superiore
altissimo
supremo
sommo
basso low
più basso
inferiore
bassissimo
infimo
buono good
più buono
migliore
buonissimo
ottimo
bello beautiful
più bello
bellissimo
brutto ugly, bad
più brutto
peggiore
bruttissimo
pessimo
cattivo bad
più cattivo
cattivissimo
grande big
più grande
maggiore
grandissimo
massimo
piccolo little
più piccolo
minore
piccolissimo
minimo
 
See the Irregular suppletive degrees in Latin.

See also Placement of the Adjectives.
 



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