Gli aggettivi


An adjective describes something (a place, an object, a person, an idea, etc.). Consider this sentence in English: I live in a small town. Small is an adjective, and in this sentence it describes the town. The town could also be big, old, French, beautiful, chaotic… these are all adjectives.

Unlike in English, adjectives follow the noun in Italian. There are exceptions and they have to do with emphasis.

Adjectives in Italian must agree in gender and number with the noun that they are modifying, and they follow the same rules that you have already learned for nouns.


There are two general types of adjectives in Italian:

Type 1 – Adjectives that end in -o in the masculine-singular form.  These adjectives have four forms:

singular plural
masculine moderno moderni
feminine moderna moderne


Type 2 – Adjectives that end in -e in the masculine-singular form.  These adjectives have only 2 forms: a singular form and a plural form.

singular plural
masculine & feminine interessante interessanti

Type 1 examples:

  • Un negozio moderno  >  negozio is masculine singular, hence moderno.
  • I negozi moderni  >  negozi is masculine plural, hence moderni.
  • Una libreria moderna  >  libreria is feminine singular, hence moderna.
  • Le librerie moderne  >  librerie is feminine plural, hence moderne.

Type 2 examples:

  • Un museo interessante / Una città interessante  >  interessante works both as a masculine and as a feminine singular adjective.
  • I musei interessanti / Le città interessanti  >  interessanti works both as a masculine and as a feminine plural adjective.

There are some patterns that it is useful to observe in order to decide whether an adjective is of the 1st or 2nd type. The following endings indicate a 2nd type adjective ending in -e:

  • ace (vivace)
  • ale (originale)
  • are (particolare)
  • ante (importante)
  • ente (imponente)
  • ese (francese)
  • ile (vivibile)


Particular cases

  • Adjectives ending in –ista:
singular plural
masculine ottimista ottimisti
feminine ottimista ottimiste





  • Adjectives ending in –co and –go always add an h in the feminine plural form, but do not always add an h in the masculine plural form:
singular plural
masculine antico antichi
feminine antica antiche


Similar adjectives: stanco [tired]; tedesco [German]; pittoresco, barocco [baroque].


singular plural
masculine simpatico simpatici
feminine simpatica simpatiche

Similar adjectives: greco [Greek]; gotico [Gothic]; fantastico; caotico; pratico [practical].


Adjectives that precede a noun

Some common, short adjectives can precede the noun. Among others, there are these pairs of opposites:

  • bello / brutto  (beautiful /ugly)          Una bella città / Una brutta città
  • buono / cattivo   (good / bad)             Una buona pizza / Una cattiva pizza
  • nuovo / vecchio   (new / old)              Un nuovo negozio / Un vecchio negozio
  • piccolo / grande   (small / big)           Una piccola piazza / Una grande piazza
  • questo / quello    (this / that)              Questa trattoria / Quella trattoria
  • molti(e) / alcuni(e)    (many / some)   Molti palazzi / Alcuni palazzi
  • When buono precedes the noun, it takes the form of the indefinite articles – un, uno, una, un’ in the singular form:
un → buon una → buona
uno → buono un’ → buon’

The plural forms are regular: buoni / buone.

  • When bello and quello precede the noun, they take the form of the definite articles – il, lo, la, l’, i, le, gli:
il → bel il → quel
lo → bello lo → quello
l’ → bell’ l’ → quell’
la → bella la → quella
i → bei i → quei
gli → begli gli → quegli
le → belle le → quelle








However, when buono, bello, quello, and questo follow the noun (like any other adjective), they have regular forms. Examples:

Un bel monumento      vs.     Il monumento è bello

Roma è una bella città      vs.    Roma è bella

Un buon panino      vs.    Il panino è buono


  • Questo is a regular adjective. However, when it is followed by a vowel in the singular form it contracts into quest’, as in quest’aula [this classroom].



To say very use molto before an adjective. In this case molto does not change its form: questa città è molto bella.


To say a lot of; many; much use molto as an adjective. In this case molto has to agree with the noun it refers to, as in:

  • c’è molto traffico in città
  • c’è molta gente in città
  • ci sono molti palazzi in città
  • ci sono molte panetterie in città



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Spunti: Italiano elementare 1 Copyright © 2018 by Daniel Leisawitz and Daniela Viale is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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