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Lessons for topic Comparatives

Absolutely Superlative!

We've talked recently about comparatives of equality, and so it makes sense to talk about yet another kind of comparative. We're not really comparing two or more items, but rather giving one item a very high vote.

 

In English we use words or prefixes such as "super," "very," "extra," "maximum," "mega."

 

There is a super easy way to make adjectives into absolute superlatives in Italian.

 

Daniela explains how this works:

Ripeto due volte la parola "bravo" e dico: "Lui è bravo bravo".
I repeat the word “brilliant” twice and I say, “He is extremely brilliant.
Caption 6, Corso di italiano con Daniela: Superlativo assoluto - Part 2 of 3

 

There are certain adjectives we use quite frequently in this form to express an absolute superlative.

 

One is bello (beautiful, nice):

Là, in mezzo a quelle canne ci sono due belle fagiani [fagiane] con un maschione bello bello.
There, in the middle of those canes, there are two nice pheasants with a really nice big male.
Caption 70-71, Anna e Marika - Trattoria Al Biondo Tevere - Part 3 of 3

 

Another is piccolo (small):

E aveva soltanto un balcone per prendere un po' d'aria e un appartamento piccolo piccolo.
And he only had a balcony for getting a bit of air, and a very tiny apartment.
Captions 22-24, Andromeda: e i gatti 2 - Part 1 of 2

Still another is nuovo (new):

Se si vince, si prende il primo premio.
If we win, we'll get the first prize.
Me lo dici che premio è?
Will you tell me what the prize is?
Un carro armato vero, nuovo nuovo.
A real tank, brand new.
Captions19-21, Trailer - La vita è bella: Roberto Benigni

 

There are lots of others, and you will, little by little, start noticing them as you listen to spoken Italian, where they occur most frequently.

 

Practice: 
Think of things in your everyday life, and try forming sentences with this form of the superlativo assoluto. It's fun and easy.

Here's a head start.

Il frigo è vuoto vuoto (the fridge is completely empty).
Questo pavimento è sporco sporco (this floor is very dirty).
Il disco rigido è pieno pieno (the hard drive is totally full).
Questo video era facile facile da capire (this video was super easy to understand).
Tieni il volume basso basso (keep the volume really low).

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Good News About Comparatives in Italian

Daniela is back with some more Italian lessons, classroom-style. This time she will be teaching us how to compare things. And the good news is that apart from a few exceptions like buono (good),  migliore (better), il/la migliore (the best), you won't have to learn the comparative forms of an adjective. Basically, you just have to use the adverb più (more) or meno (less). 

 

Sometimes this corresponds to the English, because in English, not all adjectives have a comparative form.

"Arrivederci" [quando vado via] è una forma di saluto più elegante, formale.
"Arrivederci" [when I leave] is a more elegant, formal form of saying "goodbye."
Caption 3, Corso di italiano con Daniela: Salutare - Part 1 of 2

 

But in many cases, there is a specific comparative form in English.

 

In the following example, a recipe is being described.

Si può personalizzare: più piccantemeno piccante.
You can personalize: sharper or milder.
Caption 3, Anna e Marika: L'Italia a tavola - Il frico friulano - Part 1 of 2

 

So, if you are translating, you have to find the "right" word in English. But as you become more familiar with Italian, you will start thinking in Italian, and the English equivalent won't really come into play.

 

One tricky thing is that you have to take into account whether you are comparing things or actions. The preposition you use, di (than) as opposed to che (than), will change accordingly. 

Lucca è una città più piccola di Firenze (Lucca is a smaller city than Florence). Lucca è meno grande di Firenze (Lucca is smaller than Florence).

 

A Lucca, è più comodo girare in bici che girare in macchina (in Lucca, it's easier to get around by bike, than to get around by car).

 

Practice:

Watch Daniela's video, first of all. Then go around your house, or wherever you happen to be, and compare things. 

Questo libro è più grande di quel libro (this book is bigger than that book).

Gain confidence in comparing things using di (than). Then move on to comparing actions. It's a little trickier, with che (than).

Comprare online sarà più veloce che andare al negozio (purchasing online will be quicker than going to the store).

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