III. Ten Things to Know about Adjectives and Adverbs in Italian.


From this point onward we will insert pronunciation guides only for words which may be difficult for the beginner, such as three-syllable words stressed on the first syllable (tavola, piccola). For an explanation of the phonetics of the Pronunciation Guide, click here.


1. Inflection of adjectives.
Italian adjectives are inflected to agree with the nouns they modify, and usually follow the noun: il tappeto rosso, the red carpet; le macchine (mahk-kee-nay) rosse, the red cars.  
Adjectives that end in -o (such as rosso, red) change the ending to -a for the feminine singular, and -i and -e for the masculine and feminine plurals.
Adjectives ending in -e (such as verde, green), use -e for masculine and feminine singular, and -i for both genders in the plural: tappeti verdi, green carpets; macchine verdi, green cars.


2. Adjectives that precede.
Some of the most common adjectives precede rather than follow the noun. It may be convenient to remember them as pairs of opposites: bello, brutto, beautiful, ugly; buono, cattivo, good, bad; grande, piccolo (peek-koh-loh), large, small; lungo, corto, long, short; vecchio (vehk-kee-oh), giovane (joh-vah-nay), old, young; antico, nuovo, old, new. Examples: le piccole tavole (lay peek-koh-lay tah-voh-lay), the little tables; un lungo tappeto, a long carpet.


3. Four irregular adjectives.
The adjectives bello, buono, grande, and santo (holy or Saint), have special short forms which are used when they precede a masculine singular noun: un bel concerto, a beautiful concert; un buon cavallo, a good horse; il gran palazzo, the great palace; San Giorgio, Saint George. 
If a masculine noun begins with the letter z or s-impure (s followed by another consonant like p or t) the regular masculine forms are used: il bello specchio (spehk-kyoh), the beautiful mirror; un grande sbaglio (sbah-lyoh), a big mistake; un buono zio, a good uncle; Santo Stefano, Saint Stephen.
If the masculine noun begins with a vowel, use the forms bell', buon', grand' and sant' attached directly to the noun. Examples: un bell'amico, a beautiful friend; il buon'albergo, the good hotel; un grand'onore, a great honor; Sant'Agostino, Saint Augustine.
When used with feminine nouns, plural nouns, or when standing alone, these adjectives are regular. Examples: la bella donna, the beautiful lady; una buona cuoca, a good cook; grandi palazzi, great palaces; Santa Lucia (loo-chee-ah), Saint Lucy; il concerto era bello, the concert was beautiful.


4. Demonstrative adjectives.
Questo and quello, this and that, are the common demonstrative adjectives: questo is regular but quello has the irregular form quel before a masculine singular noun. Examples: questo ragazzo, questi ragazzi, this boy, these boys; questa donna, queste donne, this woman, these women; quel ragazzo, quelli ragazzi, that boy, those boys; quella donna, quelle donne, that woman, those women.


5. Possessive adjectives.
The possessive adjectives are mio, my; tuo, yours (singular); suo, his or her; nostro, our; vostro, your (plural); loro, their. These precede the noun and are used with the definite article: il mio libro, my book.   
All of them except loro change their forms to agree with the noun in number and gender: il mio (tuo, suo, nostro, vostro, loro) libro; la mia (tua, sua, nostra, vostra, loro) tavola; i miei (tuoi, suoi, nostri, vostri, loro) libri; le mie (tue, sue, nostre, vostre, loro) tavole.
An exception to the use of the article involves family members: mia madre, vostre sorelle, my mother, your sisters.
As in English, the possessive adjectives can stand alone as possessive pronouns: Questa sedia è la mia, this seat is mine.


6. Interrogative adjectives.
The common interrogative adjectives are quale (plural quali), "which," and quanto (-a, -i, -e), "how many." Examples: Quale casa è la tua? Which house is yours? Quali studenti sono qui? Which students are here? Quante persone hai visto? How many persons did you see?


7. Comparison.
In Italian più and meno, “more” and “less,” are used with adjectives to indicate comparison: Spesso il maestro (mah-ay-stroh) è meno furbo del suo studente, often the teacher is less clever than his student. Antonio sembra più alto di Marco, Antonio seems taller than Marco. Note that the preposition di has the same meaning here as the English "than."
Instead of di, che is used if two nouns are being compared: Ci sono più signori che signore nella sala, there are more gentlemen than ladies in the room.


8. Superlative.
The superlative of an adjective is formed by combining più or meno with the definite article: Giulio era il più intelligente studente nella scuola, Giulio was the most intelligent student in the school. Questa casa è la meno cara nel vicino, this house is the least expensive in the neighborhood.
The superlative can also be formed by adding the ending -issimo to an adjective, after dropping its final vowel: il ragazzo poverissimo (poh-vehr-ees-see-moh), the poorest boy (or: the very poor boy); questa macchina è carissima (kahr-ees-see-mah), this car is very expensive.


9. Irregular comparisons.
As in English, some common adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms:   
buono, migliore (mee-lyoh-ray), ottimo (oht-tee-moh), good, better, best;
cattivo, peggiore, pessimo (pehs-see-moh), bad, worse, worst;
grande, maggiore, massimo (mahs-see-moh), great, greater, greatest;
piccolo (peek-koh-loh), minore, minimo (mee-nee-moh), small, smaller, smallest;
alto, superiore, supremo, high, higher, highest;
basso, inferiore, infimo (een-fee-moh), low, lower, lowest.


10. Adverbs.
The most common Italian adverbs are non, not; ci and vi, here and there; mai, never; già, already; più, more; sempre, always.
Any Italian adjective can be made into an adverb by adding the ending -mente to the feminine singular form. Examples: fortunato, fortunatamente (fortunate, fortunately); felice, felicemente (happy, happily).
Adverbs are usually placed right after the conjugated verb: Non l'ho mai veduto, I have never seen him. Siamo sempre pronti, we are always ready. Exceptions include non, not, ci, here, and vi, there, which precede the verb: Non lo puoi comprare, you cannot buy it. Vi andiamo, we are going there.


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