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Post by Peter »

(Aggettivi qualificativi)

In Part 1, we explained that we use descriptive (or qualifying) adjectives to describe physical and non-physical attributes of a person, animal or thing. We looked at the physical attributes size, appearance and taste. In this Part we look at the physical attribute composition, and the non-physical attributes, nationality, age, temperament.

1. Composition

By composition, we mean what something is made of, for example a leather jacket, a wooden bench, iron bar, etc. To render this is in Italian, you must use the preposition di followed by a noun, ie of leather, of wood, of iron.


una giacca di pelle - a leather jacket
una panca di legno - a wooden bench
una barra di ferro - an iron bar
una camicia di cotone - a cotton shirt
un contenitore di plastica - a plastic container
una scodella di ceramica - a ceramic bowl

You can also use the preposition in followed by a noun, or fatto di (literally: made of) plus a noun, for example:

The bedroom furniture is in oak/made of oak
Il mobile della camera di letto è in quercia
Il mobile della camera di letto è fatto di quercia

There are other phrases where the participle + di are used and include:

ripieno di - filled with
ricoperto di - covered with
foderato di - lined with

2. Nationality

Adjectives of nationality are essentially descriptive. Remember that in Italian, the adjective is not capitalised, unlike in English. Here are some examples:

italiano - Italian
inglese - English
scozzese - Scottish
canadese - Canadian
americano - American
australiano - Australian
tedesco - German

Remember also that these adjectives can also act as nouns, for example:

gli inglesi - the English
gli italiani - the Italians
gli scozzesi - the Scottish (or Scots)
i portoghesi - the Portuguese

3. Age

Age in this context is young (giovane), old (vecchio), antique (antico- only used for things), middle-aged (di mezza età). Big (grande) and small (piccolo) can also be used to denote age, particularly small which is used to mean young.

una moglie giovane - a young wife
siamo amici vecchi - we are old friends (we are friends and we are also old)
una scrivania antica - an antique bureau
Paolo è di mezza età ora - Paul is middle-aged now
i piccoli ragazzi - the small (young) boys

4. Temperament

By temperament (which includes character), we mean things such as happy (allegro), kind (gentile), nice (simpatico), nasty (antipatico), pleasant (piacevole), unpleasant (spiacevole, sgradevole), etc.

Paola è una ragazza allegra
Paula is a happy girl

In this context, happy describes Paula’s general disposition; that is, she is a naturally happy girl, not simply being happy or content (felice, contento) about any specific thing.

Zia Giovanna è una signora gentile
Aunt Joan is a kind lady

I miei fratelli sono tipi simpatici
My brothers are nice guys

Alfredo è un uomo antipatico
Alfred is a nasty man

Però, sua moglie è molto piacevole
However, his wife is very pleasant

Non ho conosciuto una tale persona spiacevole
I have never known such an unpleasant person

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