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Post by Peter »

(La formazione degli aggettivi)

In Part 1 of this lesson, we explained about the basic formation of adjectives and how adjectives that end -co, -ca, -go, -ga are formed. In this Part we look at adjectives that end –ista, -asta, -ita, -ida, -ota and also those that end –io.

1. Formation of the plural of adjectives ending –ista, -asta, -ita, -ida, -ota

These adjectives can be both masculine and feminine, with the definite or indefinite article determining the gender. However, they take the regular plural endings: -i for masculine, -e for feminine.


ottimista - optimistic
masculine plural: ottimisti
feminine plural: ottimiste

entusiasta - enthusiastic
masculine plural: entusiasti
feminine plural: entusiaste

ipocrita hypocritical)
masculine plural: ipocriti
feminine plural: ipocrite

suicida - suicidal
masculine plural: suicidi
feminine plural: suicide

idiota - idiotic
masculine plural: idioti
feminine plural: idiote

John and Frederick were optimistic that they would do well in the exams
Giovanni e Federico erano ottimisti che farebbero bene negli esami

Their predictions proved to be wildly optimistic
Le loro predizioni si sono rivelati d’essere esaggeramente ottimiste

Paul and Philip are enthusiastic followers of their local rugby club
Paolo e Filippo sono tifosi entuasti della loro società rugby

The hypocritical political classes continue to ignore the wishes of the people
Le classi politiche ipocrite continuano a ignorare i desideri della gente

2. Formation of the plural of adjectives ending -io

In the case of a masculine adjective that ends –io, where the stress is on the pre-penultimate syllable, the plural ends in a single -i.


Singular: contrario - contrary: Plural: contrari
Singular: vecchio - old: Plural: vecchi

They are two very contrary men
Sono due uomini molti contrari

According to some people, the old ways were better than how things are today
Secondo della gente, i modi vecchi sono stati meglio di come sono le cose oggi

However, where the stress falls on the letter -i, effectively the penultimate syllable, then the adjective ends with a double -ii, as in the following examples:

Singular: liscio - smooth, straight: Plural: liscii

Diana has long, straight hair
Diana ha lunghi capelli liscii

You will note that there are two adjectives in the last example. We explain more fully how to deal with cases where you use two or more adjectives in the next lesson.

Two similar examples are natio (native: plural – natii) and stantio (stale: plural – stantii).

Irregular female plural endings

Some adjectives that end –io have irregular female plural endings, in that the –i is dropped and the final –e is added to the stem word.


Singular: liscia - smooth: Plural: lisce
Singular: saggia - wise: Plural: sagge

All the work surfaces are very smooth
Tutte le superficie di lavoro sono molte lisce

The wise old women always seemed to have an answer for everything!
Le vecchie sagge hanno sempre sembrato di aver una soluzione per tutto!

Note that in Italian le vecchie is used to describe old women, just as i vecchi is sufficient when referring to old men. Other adjectives are also used in this way, for example, the plural of the adjective giovane (young) can be used as a noun: i giovani (young men, or young people) and le giovani (young women).

The adjectives bello, buono, grande, santo and quello

The formation of these adjectives is as follows:

bello – bel – bella – bell’ – bei – begli – belle
quello – quel – quella – quell’ – quelli – quegli – quelle

Note that the masculine plural of bello is bei, whereas that of quello is quelli. Quei is used as either a pronoun or an adverb. These adjectives have similar endings as the definite articles, il/ lo/ la/ i/ gli/ le. There is more information about quello in L06 Demonstrative Adjectives.

buono – buon – buona – buon’ – buoni – buone
grande – gran – grand’ – grandi

As with all adjectives that end in –e, the plural of grande ends in –i, whether the noun is masculine or feminine. Grande, grand’ and grandi are used with both masculine and feminine nouns. Gran is used before singular masculine nouns that begin with a consonant; exceptions are where the noun begins with a z, or an s followed by another consonant (what is known as an impure s).

santo – san – sant’ – santa – santi - sante



un bel ragazzo - a handsome boy
una bella ragazza - a beautiful girl
una bell’idea - a good idea
due bei ragazzi - two handsome boys
begli occhi - beautiful eyes
due belle signore - two beautiful ladies


un buono stipendio - a good salary
un buon amico - a good friend (masculine)
una buon’amica - a good friend (feminine)
i miei buoni amici - my good friends (masculine)
le mie buone amiche - my good friends (feminine)


un grande scacco - a great setback
una grande città - a great city
un grand’uomo - a great man
una grand’abilità - a great ability
due grandi amici - two great friends (masculine)
due grande amiche - two great friends (feminine)

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