Italian grammar: Adjectives of quality

Adjectives of quality (Aggettivi qualificativi) - Agreement

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Adjectives of quality (Aggettivi qualificativi) in Italian, serve to better describe the noun to which they relate by adding to its meaning, for example, a color, a shape, a nationality, etc...

Example: Una casa bianca (a white house), una vino italiano (an Italian wine), un'auto nuova (a new car), un cane grande (a big dog), etc...

Italian adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun they refer to. This rule is pretty easy to put into practice when the adjective describes only one noun, but, sometimes, it can describe more than one noun and, often, of different genders.

Let's see the three hypoteses:

1. If all nouns are masculine → the adjective is masculine
2. If all nouns are feminine → the adjective is feminine
3. If there is combination of masculine and feminine nouns → the adjective is masculine

All the adjectives are listed in dictionaries in the masculine singular form, but feminine and plurals can be obtained by changing the ending, in accordance with the following rules:

1. Adjectives ending in "-o"

These adjectives, which are the majority, have 4 different endings. Let's see how the adjective "nuovo" (new) behaves in all cases:

  Masculine Feminine
Singular nuov-o nuov-a
Plural nuov-i nuov-e

Examples:
  Masculine Feminine
Singular Un libro nuovo (a new book) Una donna alta (a tall woman)
Plural Dei fogli gialli (Some yellow sheets) Delle rose rosse (some red roses)

2. Adjectives ending in "-sta"

These adjectives have 3 different endings. Let's see how the adjective "egoista" (selfish) behaves in all cases:

  Masculine Feminine
Singular egoista egoista
Plural egoisti egoiste

Examples:
  Masculine Feminine
Singular Un uomo egoista (a selfish man) Una bimba entusiasta (an excited girl)
Plural Dei ragazzi ottimisti (Some optimist guys) Delle signore pessimiste (some pessimistic ladies)

3. Adjectives ending in "-e"

These adjectives have 2 different endings. Let's see how the adjective "inglese" (English) behaves in all cases:

  Masculine Feminine
Singular ingles-e ingles-e
Plural ingles-i ingles-i

Examples:
  Masculine Feminine
Singular Un signore inglese (an English man) Una sciarpa verde (a green scarf)
Plural Dei cani grandi (Some big dogs) Delle signore gentili (some nice ladies)

But...

Adjectives ending in "-one" have the feminine forms in "-ona" (sing.) and "-one" (plur.).

Example: una ragazza pasticciona (a bungling girl)

4. Invariable Adjectives:

There is only a few number of invariable adjectives:


5. Other adjectives that follow the same rules of nouns:


Posted by Arnaldo Colonna on Jaunary 21, 2010 - All rights reserved


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