How do Italian adjectives work?

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Italian adjectives are explained in this post along with examples of how to use them in sentences and how to make sure they agree with the words they modify.

Adjectives are words that describe a name more fully by adding characteristics. ADJECTIVES are buono (good), cattivo (bad), stupido (stupid), intelligent (smart), giovane (young), and vecchio (old).

A few rules must be followed in order to use adjectives appropriately

Adjectives must agree in gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural) with the noun they refer to.

We show you how to change the endings so the adjectives agree in number and gender with the words they modify.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Read the explanation to learn more.

How Regular adjectives work

Masculine adjectives end in -o.
Their plural form end in -i


Let’s take the word ➔ GATTO (masculine singular)

We’re referring to the cat’s colour, such as black ➔ NERO.

As GATTO is a masculine noun, everything must agree in the sentence, including the article and the adjective.

SINGULAR FORM

➔ IL GATTO NERO

How do Italian adjectives work? il gatto nero

PLURAL FORM

➔ I GATTI NERI

How do Italian adjectives work? i gatti neri

Feminine adjectives end in – a.
Their plural forms end in -e


This time let’s take a female cat with the same color ➔ GATTA (feminine singular)

As GATTA is a feminine noun, everything must agree in the sentence, including the article and the adjective.

SINGULAR FORM

➔ LA GATTA NERA

How do Italian adjectives work? la gatta nera

PLURAL FORM

➔ LE GATTE NERE

How do Italian adjectives work? le gatte nere

Adjectives ending in -e are both masculine and feminine- Plural forms end in -i


This time let’s take both a female and a male cat ➔ Gatta/Gatto. This time the cat is happy ➔ FELICE

Most adjectives ending in -e have one form used for both the masculine and feminine singular.
Adjectives ending in -e in the singular form, change to -i in the plural forms of the masculine and the feminine.

SINGULAR FORM

➔ LA GATTA FELICE

➔ IL GATTO FELICE

How do Italian adjectives work? il gatto la gatta felice

SINGULAR FORM

➔ LE GATTE FELICI

➔ I GATTI FELICI

How do Italian adjectives work? i gatti/le gatte felici

There are, however, some adjectives (like blu, rosa, viola, etc.) that do not change and have the same form for masculine, feminine, singular and plural:

  • il vestito rosa ➔ i vestiti rosa
  • la giacca rosa ➔ le giacche rosa
  • il cappotto blu ➔ i cappotti blu
  • la maglia blu ➔ le maglie blu

Italian descriptive adjectives are usually placed after the noun they modify, with which they agree in gender and number.

Learn more about the order in which adjectives appear in a sentence.

Adjectives used to indicate one’s nationality

Italiano, francese, tedesco, giapponese, americano, etc. indicate one’s nationality.

Adjectives of nationality work similarly: the ones ending in -o are masculine and form their plural in – i. Adjectives of nationality ending in -a are feminine and their plural form ends in -e

Adjectives of nationality ending in -e are both masculine and feminine. Plural forms end in -i.

Mario è italiano

Italiano is a masculine adjective


Carla è italiana

Italiana is a feminine adjective

Madeleine è inglese 
Peter è inglese

Inglese is an adjective
→ masculine
→ feminine

Let’s see other examples of adjectives of nationality

-O

Marocchino

Arabo

Russo

Indiano

Svizzero

-A

Americana

Italiana

Filippina

Greca

Messicana

-E

Tailandese

Svedese

Danese

Norvegese

Francese

The table below shows several frequent Italian adjectives as well as the different adjective endings:


Masculine singular

Feminine singular

Masculine plural

Feminine plural
allegroallegraallegriallegre
altoaltaaltialte
bellobellabellibelle
buonobuonabuonibuone
difficiledifficiledifficilidifficili
felicefelicefelicifelici
giovanegiovanegiovanigiovani
grandegrandegrandigrandi
intelligenteintelligenteintelligentiintelligenti
nuovonuovanuovinuove
ordinatoordinataordinatiordinate
magromagramagrimagre
onestoonestaonestioneste
pigropigrapigripigre
responsibleresponsibleresponsibliresponsibli
sensibilesensibilesensibilisensibili
serioseriaserioserie
stessostessastessistesse
veroveraverivere

To practice using Italian adjectives, try creating simple sentences and writing them down, or practice speaking with native speakers and paying attention to how they use adjectives in conversation.

Here are some ways to practice Italian adjectives:

  1. Use vocabulary lists: Make a list of Italian nouns and adjectives and practice matching them, making sure the adjective agrees in gender and number with the noun.
  2. Describe objects and people: Pick an object or a person and try to describe them using Italian adjectives, paying attention to the agreement in gender and number.
  3. Read Italian books and articles: Read Italian books, news articles, and other materials to see how adjectives are used in written Italian.
  4. Write short sentences: Write short sentences in Italian that include adjectives and practice using the correct form of the adjective based on the noun it modifies.
  5. Take online quizzes and exercises on our website.

By using these methods, you can practice and improve your Italian adjective skills consistently and effectively.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

There are also some irregular adjective forms in Italian, such as “bello” (beautiful), which is masculine singular and feminine singular and plural. To ensure that you use the correct form of the adjective, you need to study the forms of each adjective and memorize them. Find this topic in our future posts.

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