L03: PLACEMENT OF ADJECTIVES – PART 1
(Il posizionamento degli aggettivi)
In English, adjectives are almost always placed in front of a noun. However, in Italian they can appear either before or after a noun. Adjectives that are placed in front of a noun are referred to as figurative, whilst those that appear after a noun are called literal.
The most common position for an adjective in Italian is after the noun, for example:
l’edificio antico - the old building
la camicia bianca - the white shirt
gli edifici antichi - the old buildings
le pere cotte - the cooked pears
il mare calmo - the calm sea
However, there are exceptions. Some adjectives are nearly always placed before the noun and others can appear either before or after the noun, depending on the meaning of the adjective. Then there are occasions where two or more adjectives are used, one of which comes before the noun and the other(s) after it. In this part of the lesson we look at those adjectives that come before the noun. In Part 2 we look at examples of the placement of other adjectives.
1. Adjectives that come before the noun (figurative)
Adjectives of appearance: bello (nice, beautiful, handsome), brutto (bad, ugly
un bel ragazzo - a handsome boy
begli occhi - beautiful eyes
due belle signore - two beautiful ladies
brutto tempo - bad weather
brutta strega - ugly witch
Adjectives of goodness: bravo (good, capable). Buono (good, kind), caro (dear) cattivo (bad, evil) and vero (true, real) also appear before the noun but, to a lesser extent can also appear after it (see below for examples).
brava gente - nice people
un bravo alunno - a good student (ie: one who does well)
Adjectives of size: grande (great, large), piccolo (small, little)
una grande città - a great city
una grand’abilità - a great ability
due grandi amici - two great friends (masculine)
il piccolo ragazzo - the little boy
una piccola borsa - a small bag
Adjectives of age: giovane (young), vecchio (old), nuovo (new)
Il giovane ragazzo - the young boy
la vecchia signora - the old lady
i nuovi padroni - the new owners
NOTE: All the above types of adjectives can be placed after the noun for emphasis.
There are other adjectives that also always appear before the noun. Examples are: altro (other), questo (this), stesso (same), poco (few), molto (many, a lot of), troppo (too many, too much), quanto (how many?).
Un altro uomo è venuto nella stanza
Another man came into the room
Questa volta dovevo farlo
This time I had to do it
Mio fratello e mia sorella sono arrivati allo stesso tempo
My brother and sister arrived at the same time
C’erano poche donne nella folla
There were few women in the crowd
Ci sempre sembra di essere molta gente in città
There always seems to be many people in town
Ci sono troppi incidenti sulle strade in questi giorni
There are too many accidents on the road these days
Quanti ragazzi hai invito alla festa?
How many children have you invited to the party?
Also, of course all numeric adjectives are placed before the noun: tre signori (three gentlemen), cinque macchine (five cars).
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