Italian Lessons


Lessons for topic Adjectives

50 good-to know adjectives part 5

We've come to the final 10 adjectives of the list of 50 good-to-know Italian adjectives. If you can learn these and use them in a sentence, you will have a good basis for conversation in many situations. Of course, there are many more and we'll feature new lists from time to time. 


41) simpatico (likeable, congenial, nice)

This is such a great Italian adjective, but it’s hard to translate into English. It describes a person that you want to get to know, someone who is attractive as a person, rather than physically, someone with a great personality, and a warm smile. More about simpatico here.

E poi il cuoco è uno simpatico, stava simpatico pure a te.

And besides, the cook is a nice guy. You liked him, too.

Caption 62, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 9

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41a) antipatico (unpleasant, troublesome, nasty)

The opposite of simpatico, antipatico can describe a person, but also behavior or a situation.

È severo e pure un po' antipatico.

He is stern and also a bit unfriendly.

Caption 41, Provaci ancora prof! S1E4 - La mia compagna di banco - Part 4

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Ti devo dare una notizia un po’ antipatica (I have to give you some unpleasant news).

Il mio insegnante di Italiano è veramente antipatico (my Italian teacher is really not very nice).


42-42a) Educato (polite, well-behaved, good-mannered) and its opposite, maleducato (rude, ill-mannered, impolite) have nothing, or very little, to do with going to school and getting an education. They have to do with manners and behavior, and also training as regards children and animals.

È una ragazza madre ed è una persona tanto carina, tanto gentile, educata.

She's a single mother and is a very nice person, very kind, polite.

Caption 43, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 6

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Non si azzardi più a chiamarmi a quest'ora, maleducato!

Don't you dare call me again at this hour, how rude!

Caption 69, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 12

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In other words, educato and maleducato are generally false friends. They do not mean "educated" and "uneducated."


43) Sospettoso mostly describes a person. For something that’s suspicious-looking, the adjective sospetto is normally used. Il sospetto is a noun that means  “the suspect.”

No, il barone era sospettoso e faceva assaggiare il cibo prima di mangiare alla moglie,

No, the baron was suspicious and had the food tasted, before eating it, by his wife,

Captions 14-16, Caravaggio EP1 - Part 20

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44) affettuoso (affectionate, loving, tender)

Un tipo affascinante, simpatico, affettuoso.

A charming, friendly, affectionate type.

Caption 42, Il Commissario Manara S2EP8 - Fuori servizio - Part 10

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45) ingenuo (naive, gullible, inexperienced, innocent)

Someone who is ingenuo isn’t all that familiar with the ways of the world. They may be too trustful and might easily get conned.

Mi crede così ingenuo da affidare a Lei un compito così delicato?

Do you think I'm so naive that I would entrust such a delicate task to you?

Caption 47, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 3

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46) tranquillo (tranquillo, calm, with no worries)

This very useful adjective covers a lot of ground, so it’s a good one to have in your Italian vocabulary. If you travel in Italy, you’ll undoubtedly hear this expression a lot: Stai tranquillo. It means, “Don’t worry.” The polite version is Stia tranquillo. It can also mean, “Stay calm.”

Lei non è incriminato di niente, deve stare tranquillo, va bene?

You haven't been incriminated of anything, you can rest easy, all right?

Caption 20, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 7

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47) preoccupato (worried, concerned)

This adjective looks like it should mean “preoccupied,” but it basically means “worried.” 

Sono molto preoccupato per mio figlio (I’m very worried about my son).

And someone might say to you:

Non ti preoccupare (Don’t worry). 

And if the situation is formal:

Non si preoccupi (Don’t worry [formal]).

More about worrying in Italian, here.

48) intelligente (intelligent)
This is an easy cognate and it means just what you would think!


49) stupido (stupid)
This is another adjective that means just what you would imagine it would.


50) pazzo (crazy)

This is a fun word and primarily describes a person or animal. Note that just as in English we can be crazy about something or someone, Italian uses this adjective, too.

Sono pazza/pazzo di te (I’m crazy about you).

And “to go crazy” is diventare pazzo (to become crazy).


When we are talking about something, on the other hand, we need the adjective pazzesco. Pazzo is only for humans and animals.

Hai avuto un successo pazzesco, eh?

You were wildly successful, huh?

Caption 1, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP2 Una mina vagante - Part 2

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51) furbo (clever, cunning, shrewd)

Ho detto: "Non fare il furbo".

I said "Don't be a wise guy."

Caption 39, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sul Piemonte

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This adjective can either be positive or somewhat pejorative, depending on the context. It is sometimes transformed into a noun, as in the example above.

And with that, we’ve given you more than 50 (but who’s counting?) good-to-know Italian adjectives to put in your pocket. Try them out for size — practice them as you go about your day, observing your human, animal, and physical surroundings.

Learn more!
Practical examples of these adjectives can be found throughout Yabla videos available with a subscription. Yabla offers you the possibility of learning at your own pace and through videos pertaining to your interests. Expand your horizons by learning one of the most romantic languages in the world.


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50 Italian good-to-know adjectives part 4 - emotions

Good-to-know Italian Adjectives Describing Someone’s Mood or Feelings

31) felice (happy)

Apart from its most common meaning, felice can also mean “fitting” or "well-chosen.” We can also make this adjective into its opposite by adding the prefix in: infelice = unhappy.

Sono felice di averLa conosciuta.

I'm happy to have met you.

Caption 48, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 1

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32) triste (sad)

Il canile è un luogo molto triste per un cane.

The dog pound is a very sad place for a dog.

Caption 11, Andromeda La storia di Ulisse

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Whereas infelice is a general state, triste more often describes a momentary feeling or something that brings on feelings of sadness, such as a sad story.

33) arrabbiato (angry)

When you eat in an Italian restaurant, you often find penne all’arrabbiata on the menu. The color is red, and it’s hot with peperoncino (hot pepper). The color red is associated with anger. The adjective comes from the verb arrabbiare (to get angry).

È arrabbiato con la moglie, allora se la prende con tutti.

He's angry with his wife, so he takes it out on everyone.

Caption 18, Il Commissario Manara S2EP11 - Uno strano incidente di caccia - Part 1

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34) fiducioso (hopeful, confident, optimistic, trusting)

Italian doesn’t have a cognate for “hopeful,”— or rather, it does — speranzoso, but it is rarely used. As a result, fiducioso is a good bet, especially when you are optimistically hopeful. Fiducioso comes from the reflexive verb fidarsi (to trust) and the noun la fiducia (the trust).

Ma io sono fiduciosa.

But I am confident.

Caption 17, Sei mai stata sulla Luna? film - Part 13

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35) volenteroso (willing)

Non l'ho fatta io questa palla di neve, ma sicuramente qualcuno molto più volenteroso di me.

I didn't make this snowball, but for sure, somebody much keener than me.

Captions 39-40, Francesca neve - Part 3

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This adjective is used to describe a person who pitches in and helps, or is willing to learn. It comes from the verb volere (to want, to want to). Someone who is volenteroso will likely offer his or her services as a volunteer, a cognate to help you remember its meaning. See this Yabla lesson: Being Willing with Volentieri. When someone asks you to do something you would like to do, you can answer, Volentieri (I'd love to).

36) scoraggiato (discouraged, disheartened)

The s prefix turns incoraggiare (to encourage) into scoraggiare (to discourage), and the adjective scoraggiato comes from the past participle of the verb scoraggiare.

Sì, ma guarda, ne ho sentiti trentadue, un disastro. Sono veramente scoraggiata.

Yes, but look, I have heard thirty-two of them, a disaster. I am really discouraged.

Captions 9-10, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3EP4 Lo stagno del ranocchio - Part 10

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37) stufo (fed up, sick and tired)

This is a great adjective to have in your toolbox, and comes from stufare (literally, “to stew”). It’s commonly used in the reflexive — stufarsi (to get fed up with) — but the adjective is good to know, too.

Fabrizio, basta. Basta. Sono stufa delle tue promesse.

Fabrizio, that's enough. Enough. I'm sick of your promises.

Captions 67-68, Il Commissario Manara S2EP9 - L'amica ritrovata - Part 5

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38) svogliato (unenthusiastic, listless)

Svogliato has the s prefix, indicating the opposite of the original word (often making it negative) and comes from the verb volere (to want). This is a great word for when you really don’t feel like doing what you have to do.

Oh, guarda un po' se c'è un programma per riattivare un marito svogliato?

Oh, look and see if there's a program for reactivating a listless husband.

Caption 49, Il Commissario Manara S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu - Part 5

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39) nervoso (tense, irritable, stressed out)

False friend alert! Nervoso really seems like a great translation for “nervous,” and it does have to do with nerves, but when you are nervous, there’s a different word (next on our list). Nervoso is more like when your kids are acting up and you have work to do and you are having trouble staying calm and collected. Irritable is a good equivalent. Stressed out works, too. See this Yabla lesson: Emozionato or Nervoso? What’s the Difference? 

Non ti innervosire, mica... -No, non sono nervoso, Toscani.

Don't get stressed out... it's not as if... -No, I'm not stressed out, Toscani.

Caption 14, Il Commissario Manara S2EP5 - Mondo sommerso - Part 1

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40) emozionato (nervous, excited, moved, touched, thrilled).

Diciamo, adesso sono un po' emozionato, è la prima volta, vedo la cinepresa, registi, ciak, cose, insomma per me è una grande emozione questo momento.

Let's say, right now, I am a bit nervous. It's my first time. I see the camera, the directors, the clapperboard, in short, for me this is a moment of great excitement.

Captions 14-16, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 7

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See part 1

See part 2

See part 3

Learn more!
Practical examples of these adjectives can be found throughout Yabla videos. Yabla offers you the possibility of learning at your own pace through videos pertaining to your interests. Expand your horizons by learning one of the most romantic languages in the world.


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50 good-to-know Italian adjectives part 2 — negatives

Here are some good-to-know Italian adjectives that express something negative: for positive adjectives (numbers 1-10) see this lesson.

11) brutto (ugly, bad)

Brutto is the opposite of bello, and works the same way. We use brutto to talk about a movie we didn’t like, or something that is physically unpleasant to look at. Just like bello, brutto is more than ugly. It’s often used to mean "bad," for instance: un brutto incidente (a bad accident). 

Che brutto incidente!
What a terrible accident!

12) cattivo (bad, mean, nasty, evil)

This is another kind of “bad,” but often has more to do with non-physical things. Someone can be una cattiva persona (a nasty person).


13) pessimo (really bad, awful)

This is a wonderful adjective to have in your repertoire when you really need to call something “awful.”


Quel risotto era pessimo. (That risotto was really awful.)


14) scorretto (unfair, unjust, rude)

This is one of those wonderful adjectives that, by merely adding the “s” prefix, becomes the opposite of the original word, in this case, corretto.

Va be', ma non ti sembra scorretto nei confronti del mio Cicci? -No.

OK, but don't you think it's unfair to my Cicci? -No.

Caption 32, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 9

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15) terrible  (terrible, awful, horrendous)

Here’s a partially true friend. We add it because it will be an easy word to call on if you need a negative adjective. It is not the first choice for Italians, though, and usually describes something as extraordinarily intense.

Qui, in seguito a una terribile frana, non abita più nessuno.

Here, following a big landslide, no one lives here anymore.

Caption 48, Basilicata Turistica Non me ne voglio andare - Part 2

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16) terrificante (dreadful, horrifying, terrifying, scary)

False friend alert. Terrificante does not mean “terrific.” It is a negative adjective, often used to mean “terrible,” but also “terrifying,” — inspiring fear.

Cioè, viviamo in un mondo che è brutale, terrificante... -Aspro, sì.

That is, we live in a world that's brutal, terrifying... -Bitter, yes.

Caption 6, Fellini Racconta Un Autoritratto Ritrovato - Part 8

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17) orrendo (horrible, hideous, horrendous, dreadful, awful, terrible)

This is a strong, extreme (negative) adjective, but it’s there when you need it, as a true “friend.” Eyebrows up, eyes wide open in horror.

18) noioso (boring, annoying, tedious, irritating)

This is a great adjective because, as well as describing a boring movie, it can also describe something or someone that’s annoying you or being a nuisance:

Quel film era molto noioso. Mi sono addirittura addormentato (That film was boring. I even fell asleep).
Non essere noioso (Don’t be so irritating, don’t annoy me).


Eh, povero Dixi, il singhiozzo è noioso

Oh, poor Dixi, the hiccups are bothersome

Caption 15, Dixiland Il singhiozzo

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19) negato (hopeless, useless, incapable, decidedly ungifted)

This is a useful adjective for admitting someone does something badly because they have no talent, no gift, not because they aren’t trying.

Negato describes a person (or possibly an animal), not an action or thing. Negato comes from the verb negare (to deny, to negate) but here, we are talking about the talent of a person.

Sono negato per la cucina. (I’m no good at cooking. I’m a disaster at cooking.)

Il maestro dice che non ha mai visto nessuno più negato di me.

The teacher says he has never seen anyone less gifted than me.

Caption 41, Questione di Karma Rai Cinema - Part 9

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20) tirchio (stingy, miserly)

This describes a person who holds onto his or her money or possessions. However, in English, we might sooner use a noun such as “tightwad.”

Quanto sei tirchio (what a tightwad you are).


We hope these words will help you describe events, people, food, and more. 

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50 good-to-know adjectives, part 3 — size and strength

Here are some good-to-know Italian adjectives that describe size and strength:

21) grande (big, large, tall, adult, great, grand)

This is a basic adjective that covers several bases, which means there is also room for doubt about what someone means. Hand gestures help, of course. Generally speaking, grande is a very positive adjective.

22) grosso  (big, large, major, coarse, arduous)

As you can see, grande and grosso are equivalents in some cases, but not all. If you say someone is grande, that’s fine. You might mean “tall” or you might mean “adult.” If you use grosso, you are talking about size, and might be implying they are also grasso (fat). Reading and watching Italian language videos will help you develop a sense for which adjective to use.

il sale grosso (coarse salt). Sale grosso is what most Italians use to salt the water for cooking pasta or vegetables. Good to know! We also need to consider the figurative meanings of both grande and grosso.

È stato un grande lavoro can imply the positive quality of a job. Grande also means “great.”

È stato un grosso lavoro implies that there was a lot of work to do.

Sometimes we describe someone as grande e grosso. In this case, it’s (often) a big, tall man with broad shoulders and possibly also a paunch. Grosso might give the impression of strength too.

È un omone grande e grosso, però è come un bambino,

He's a tall and big man, but he's like a child,

Caption 70, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 2

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23) grasso  (fat, fatty, greasy, oily)

We use this adjective to describe a person or animal, but also to describe the fat content of food. Even oily or greasy hair can be described with grassoCapelli grassi (oily hair). Boldface letters are called in grassetto because the letters are thicker than normal ones.

24) robusto (strong, sturdy, hardy, robust, heavyset)

Here’s a word to use when you don’t want to call someone grasso (fat).

Era una donna robusta. (She was a heavyset woman.)

25) forte (strong, loud, intense, gifted)


This adjective is important to know, but it can also be ambiguous sometimes. See this Yabla lesson about this ambiguity.

In estate qui il sole è molto forte.

In summer, the sun here is very strong.

Caption 40, Adriano Le stagioni dell'anno

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Forte can also be the opposite of negato, therefore describing someone who is very good at something. Here are two examples with forte, but where it means something different in either example.

Abbassa la musica; è troppo forte. (Lower the volume of the music. It’s too loud.)

Certo che se vai tantissimo [tanto] forte, devi saper frenare per tempo!

For sure, if you go super fast, you have to know how to brake in time!

Caption 11, Dixiland In bicicletta

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26) piccolo (small, little)

If you are ordering a beer, the waiter might ask you grande o piccola? large or small?

Una birra piccola, per cortesia (a small beer, please).


Piccola can also mean very young, just as grande, especially when used comparatively, can describe someone older, like an older brother.

Mio fratello è più piccolo di me (my brother is younger than me).

27) debole (weak)

Sono troppo debole per sollevare questo peso. I’m too weak to lift this weight.


28) sottile (thin, subtle, fine)

The cognate for sottile is “subtle,” but sottile also means "thin," as when you want thin slices of something like cheese or prosciutto.

La nostra cipolla va affettata in modo molto sottile.

Our onion is to be sliced very thinly.

Caption 6, L'Italia a tavola Penne alla Toma Piemontese - Part 2

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29) basso (low, short, shallow, soft [in volume])

Here’s another adjective with different meanings that can lead us astray, so consequently, we have to pay careful attention to context. Sometimes it’s hard to know!

Ha il fondo piatto cosicché può navigare anche sui canali più bassi e sui fondali anche di pochi centimetri.

It has a flat bottom so it can navigate even the shallowest canals and over depths of even just a few centimeters.

Captions 20-21, In giro per l'Italia Venezia - Part 5

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30) alto (high, loud, tall)

The same ambiguity applies to this adjective. If you know all the meanings, you can try to figure out which meaning is intended, according to context. As with basso and forte, sometimes it’s hard to be 100% sure of the meaning.

Il sole doveva già essere alto in cielo, e invece era scomparso.

The sun should have already been high in the sky, but instead it had disappeared.

Captions 14-15, Dixiland Sole dormiglione

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Learn more!

Practical examples of these adjectives can be found throughout Yabla videos available here.   Yabla offers you the possibility of learning at your own pace and through videos pertaining to your interests. Expand your horizons by learning one of the most romantic languages in the world.


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The fine line between adjectives and nouns

When we distinguish between adjectives and nouns, the presence or absence of an article plays its part. Certainly, in the Vocabulary Review exercise, included with all Yabla videos, a noun will have either a definite or indefinite article to distinguish it, and we add an article to the English translation for the same reason. But in real life, the distinction can be kind of fuzzy. 


When you're just speaking Italian, without translating, the difference doesn't matter all that much, but when we translate we have to decide whether a word is a noun or an adjective.



In English, too, the line can be a bit fuzzy. Take the word "elderly." It's an adjective, but we can also use it as a noun, to identify a group: the elderly. We don't think about it, we just use the word correctly. 


If we talk about an old person in Italian, we can use the adjective vecchio [m] or vecchia [f].

Passati i settant'anni, ormai è vecchio.

Being over seventy, he's already old.

Caption 29, Corso di italiano con Daniela Ormai

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But we can use the adjective as a noun by using an article with it. 

È un vecchio.

He's an old guy.

Caption 29, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 16

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When we translate it into English, we need a noun after the adjective. 

Allora le faccio entrare le tre vecchie? -Signore, le... chiamiamole signore. -Le tre vecchie signore.

So should I have the three old [women] come in? Ladies, the... let's call them ladies. The three old ladies.

Captions 68-70, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP2 Rabbia - Part 20

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The sergeant was describing the elderly women in a somewhat pejorative way and Lojacono corrected him. So he just turned the word he was using as a noun into an adjective. We could follow the same model with the adjective giovane (young).This adjective ends in e, so we don't immediately know the gender of the young person. As a noun in the context of the following clip, it usually refers to a male.

No. -Dio bono, Dio... -Eh... giovane, stai molto calmo, eh!

No. -Dear God... -Uh... young man, stay super calm, huh!

Caption 23, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 10

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When we add a noun after the adjective, we sometimes have a clue as to gender, but after that, we have to use the context to choose our noun wisely. In Italian, there are suffixes that can enhance the noun. Instead of saying una vecchia, we can say una vecchietta. That way it's clear it's a noun. We can say, instead of un giovane, un giovanotto.


We often find this noun-adjective correlation when describing people and their traits.


Pazzo (crazy)

E certamente, quello è pazzo di me.

And of course, that guy is crazy about me.

Caption 20, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 16

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Aragona, guidi come un pazzo.

Aragona, you drive like a maniac.

Caption 13, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 4

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Malato (ill)

E sapevate che era malato?

And did you know that he was ill?

Caption 1, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 4

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Molti dei malati vennero ricoverati nel vicino ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala,

Many of the sick were admitted to the nearby Santa Maria della Scala hospital,

Caption 42, Meraviglie EP. 3 - Part 6

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In this particular case, we use "the sick" to mean "sick people" in English, but we can't do it with all adjectives.


È un bastardo.

He is a bastard.

Caption 27, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP1 I Bastardi - Part 24

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Se fossi più grande, andrei al cantiere, da quel geometra bastardo e gli darei un sacco di botte.

If I were older, I would go to the construction site, to that bastard of a construction supervisor and I'd throw a bunch of punches at him.

Captions 3-5, La Ladra EP. 7 - Il piccolo ladro - Part 3

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Most of us have heard or uttered the adjective stupido (stupid). But we can use it as a noun, too, just like adjectives idiota, cretino, and scemo.

Sì. Sara, io sono uno stupido.

Yes, Sara, I'm an idiot.

Caption 40, Stai lontana da me Rai Cinema - Part 16

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When people call other people names, it's not always clear how to translate them, whether as nouns or adjectives. But in either case, the insult is clear. 

Stupido! Cretino! Deficiente!

Stupid! Idiot! Dumbass!

Caption 44, La Ladra EP. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 7

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50 good-to-know Italian adjectives part 1 — positives

It's good to know some basic Italian adjectives so that you can comment on things you see, hear, smell, and taste. We'll be presenting 50 Italian adjectives that people use every day, approximately 10 by 10, so they'll be manageable. Some of these will be easy because they are similar to ones you know in English. Others will be past participles of verbs, just as in English. Yet others will be weird and different and just need to be memorized. And there will be some false friends to watch out for. For more about how adjectives work, see this lesson.



Sometimes An Adjective Is Enough. 

Adjectives are an essential part of speaking a language but the good news is that even if you don't know how to form a sentence or a question, just knowing the appropriate adjective can allow you to communicate something. And that's what language is all about: communication. So if nothing else, just say the appropriate adjective, all by itself, and you will get your message across. 


Adjectives that express something positive:


1) bello (beautiful, great)

beautiful blue sea
We can use this adjective for much more than describing a panorama or person as “beautiful.”


We also use it for a movie or book we liked, a situation like a vacation, an encounter…


Ho visto un bel film (I saw a great movie).


So it can also mean “wonderful.” And, since it’s an adjective that changes its ending according to gender and number, it can be used for both guys and gals or masculine and feminine nouns by just changing the ending from bello to bella. So it also means “handsome!”


You'll have noticed that instead of saying Ho visto un bello film, we chop off the ending when it's followed directly by the noun. We say:

Ho visto un bel film, ho letto un bel libro (I saw a great movie, I read a good book). 


When you see something beautiful, you can simply say Bello! or Che bello!

Bello, l'ha fatto Lei?

b. Did you do it?

Caption 16, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 18

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2) buono (good)

Buono is used a lot for food, for instance, when something tastes good, but it’s also used to mean “valid.” It can also describe a good person.

È una buona persona (He/she is a good person). 


Note that persona is a feminine noun, so even if we are talking about a boy or man, the adjective describing persona has to take a feminine ending. Tricky, right?


See Daniela's video lesson about bello, buono, and bene.

Questo è il gelato artigianale. Più gli ingredienti sono freschi e più è buono.

This is handmade ice cream. The fresher the ingredients are, the better it is.

Captions 15-16, Andromeda in - Storia del gelato - Part 2

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Note: Buono is one of those adjectives that has an irregular comparative. See this lesson and this one, too.


3) carino (nice, pretty, good-looking)

This is another adjective with an “o” ending, changing its ending according to gender and number. In aesthetic terms, it is less extreme than bello. However, carino is often used to mean “nice” or “kind” in describing a person, or what the person has done, for example, if you do someone a favor they didn’t ask you to do.

Eh sì. -Eh sì. Comunque Luca è stato molto carino, eh, ad accompagnare suo figlio Fabio all'istituto.

Oh yes. -Oh yes. However Luca was very sweet, no, to accompany his son Fabio to the institute.

Oh yes. -Oh yes. However, it was really nice of Luca, no, to accompany his son Fabio to the institute.

Captions 26-27, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 14

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4) gentile (kind, gentle)

Gentile is a bit more formal than carino. Carino is often used to describe people close to you, but if the bank manager was nice and polite to you, you would use the word gentile. You might also use cortese (courteous) —a great cognate!

E come no, mai una cattiva parola, sempre gentile.

For sure, never a mean word, always kind.

Caption 31, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone EP2 Rabbia - Part 3

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5) bravo (capable, well-behaved, good at something)

Caro Olivetti, sarai anche bravo a far le macchine da scrivere, ma i tuoi interessi non sono i nostri.

Dear Olivetti, you might be good at making typewriters, but your interests are not ours.

Captions 43-44, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 20

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False friend alert! Forget about “brave” for the most part. Fai la brava! means “Be a good girl!” 


È un bravo idraulico (he is a very capable plumber. He is a good plumber).


When I want to say, “Good for you!” I say Bravo! (for a guy) or Brava! (for a gal).

Il cane è bravo (he’s a good [well-behaved] dog–he won’t bite you).

6) ottimo (great, excellent)

This looks like “optimal,” and can also mean that sometimes, but primarily, it’s a superlative kind of adjective that means “great.” Consider this exchange:

Ci vediamo alle cinque. -Ottimo.
I’ll meet you at five o’clock. -Great.


È un ottimo posto per fare jogging.

It's a great place to go jogging.

Caption 25, Anna e Marika Villa Torlonia - Casino Nobile

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This is the perfect comment for someone whose work you appreciated:

Ottimo lavoro!
[You did a] great job! 

7) eccellente (excellent)

Here’s a great true friend or cognate. This adjective ends in e, so it doesn’t change with gender, just number.

Questo risotto era da vero eccellente (this risotto was excellent.)

Queste ostriche sono eccellenti (these oysters are great.)


Eccellente can also describe a prominent or eminent person, such as someone in a high position.

8) corretto (correct, fair, right, decent)

Here is a partially false friend. If you get the right answer, la risposta è corretta. That’s easy.  However, the other meaning of “fair,” — “fair-minded,” “sportsmanlike”— is less familiar to non-native speakers, but very important! For instance, corretto can describe a person as well as his or her behavior.

Pensavo che fosse una persona corretta, e invece… (I thought he was a decent, fair-minded person, but instead…)


Ma ti pare corretto, l'esaminatore che si fa venire a prendere dall'esaminando? -No. -Ma dai!

But does it seem right to you for the exam giver to have the exam taker pick him up? -No. -Come on!

Captions 8-9, La Ladra EP. 11 - Un esame importante - Part 4

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9) favoloso (fabulous, magnificent, awesome)

Here is another true friend. We don’t use “fabulous” in English so much anymore — but some of us still remember the “fab four” (The Beatles). In contrast, Italians do use favoloso when they really mean it. Eyebrows go up, eyes get wider.

Allora, io oggi sono arrivata in questa favolosa città, Lucca, però non la conosco, quindi dove posso andare?

So, today I arrived in this fabulous city, Lucca, but I don't know it, so where can I go?

Captions 16-17, In giro per l'Italia Lucca - Part 1

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10) magnifico (magnificent, great, terrific, cool)


Another true friend, this adjective is somewhat over-used in Italian, thus diminishing its value as a superlative:


Ci vediamo alle cinque. -Magnifico. (I’ll see you at five. -Great.)


E tu, come sempre, sei stata magnifica. -E tu un magnifico bugiardo.

And you, as always, were magnificent. -And you, a magnificent liar.

Captions 2-3, La Ladra EP. 12 - Come ai vecchi tempi - Part 14

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Let's add one more adjective (not included in the 50) that is super easy to use, and easy to remember: fantastico. It's used just like "fantastic" in English, so when you're short on vocabulary, try this one. AND even if you say it in English, people will understand. Of course, it can also be connected with "fantasy," but that's another story. 

Sarebbe fantastico andare al concerto tutti insieme. -Un sogno.

It would be fantastic to go to a concert all together. -A dream.

Caption 48, JAMS S1 EP2 - Part 7

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We hope this has been helpful. The next group of adjectives will be about negative adjectives. Stay tuned!



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Qualifying Adverbs: troppo, tanto

Troppo (too, too much, too many) is an essential word to know. It's also easy because its meaning is clear even if you use it by itself, even if you use it incorrectly. It is a word that will serve you well if you travel to Italy, and especially if you do any shopping. But let's remember that it can be used as either an adverb or an adjective. So it's just one more thing to think about when using it (correctly). 


Troppo caro! is an important phrase to memorize. Too expensive!



The question you might ask before saying that is:

Quanto costa (how much does it cost)?

If you don't understand the answer, try to get the vendor to write down the price.


Here below, troppo is used as an adverb. We see there is an adjective following it: caro (expensive, dear).


Ma è troppo caro, ma questo vasetto qua...

But that's too expensive, but this little pot here...

Caption 60, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo

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You can also just say È troppo (it's too much) or Costa troppo (it costs too much).


Typical uses of troppo as an adverb:

Troppo difficile (too difficult)

Troppo forte (too loud, too strong)

Troppo caldo (too hot)

Troppo complicato (too complicated)


Even when the adjective modifies a feminine noun, troppo (as an adverb) remains the same.

Lei è troppo ansiosa (she is too anxious).

I miei professori sono troppo esigenti (my teachers are too demanding).


But we can also use troppo as an adjective. Attenzione! When we use troppo as an adjective it has to agree, or correspond, to the noun it is modifying. We have to consider gender and number and thus, in translating troppo as an adjective, we have to think of whether it's "too much" or "too many."


So let's say we are again finding an item to be too expensive. We can say: 

Sono troppi soldi (that's too much money) .


Remember money is countable in Italian. Un soldo (a penny) or i soldi (the money).


Chances are that when you see troppo (with an o at the end) it will be an adverb but look around to see if there is an adjective or a noun after it.


C'è troppo aglio.

There's too much garlic.

Caption 1, Dafne - Film - Part 18

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When you see troppi or troppe, then you know they are adjectives.


Tu ti fai troppi problemi, troppi.

You're having too many scruples, too many.

Caption 16, Sposami - EP 3 - Part 20

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Ti ho perdonato... ti ho perdonato troppe volte.

I've forgiven you... I've forgiven you too many times.

Caption 43, Concorso internazionale di cortometraggio - A corto di idee

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Let's also be aware that troppo is often used by itself: È troppo! to mean, "that's too much!" in a figurative way.



Tanto is another word that is very useful and very common, although it does have various meanings and uses that we won't cover here.  We'll limit ourselves to talking about its function as an adjective or adverb to mean "a lot," "much," "many," or "very."


Ben presto però si sviluppò in Europa, dove ebbe tanto successo.

Quite early on, it spread to Europe, where it had a lot of success.

Caption 7, Adriano - balla il Tango Argentino

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In the example above, there's a noun after tanto, so we can see it's an adjective. But in the following example, there's an adjective after tanto, so it's an adverb. When translating, we'll need "very" when tanto is used as an adverb.


Il problema principale è che Boss era un gatto,

The main problem was that Boss was a cat...

era ed è un gatto tanto socievole.

he was, and is, a very sociable cat.

Captions 31-32, Andromeda - La storia di Boss

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We use tanto a lot in negative sentences too, or we can use poco the same way:

Non è tanto bello (it's not very nice).

È poco bello (it's not very nice).


When tanto is used as an adjective, we have to watch the endings, just as we did with troppo.


Si può aggiungere il caffè, si possono aggiungere tanti ingredienti...

One can add coffee, one can add many ingredients...

Caption 10, Andromeda - in - Storia del gelato

 Play Caption vista di tante passeggiate all'aria aperta. anticipation of many walks in the open air.

Caption 35, Adriano - Le stagioni dell'anno

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So basically troppo and tanto work the same way, in terms of grammar. As we said before, tanto has other meanings or nuances, so we suggest doing a search of tanto in the lessons tab, to see multiple lessons about the word. Check them out! 


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Qualifying Adverbs: molto, poco, abbastanza, piuttosto

Let's talk about adverbs we can use to add a qualifier to an adjective. We can say someone is gentile (nice). But we can qualify that with an adverb such as molto (very), poco (not very), abbastanza (rather, enough), and others.


Adjectives or adverbs

Molto (very) and poco (not very) go hand in hand. They can be either adjectives or adverbs. When they're adjectives, we change the ending according to what they modify.  But when they're used as adverbs, they are invariable.


Molto is perhaps the one we hear most often. In our first example, molto becomes molti to agree with negozi (the plural of negozio). This is because it is functioning as an adjective. For more on this topic, see Daniela's lessons.


A qui [sic], a Mondello ci sono molti negozi.

Here in Mondello there are many shops:

Caption 18, Adriano - a Mondello

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In the next example, however, molto is an adverb modifying forte (strong). As an adverb, the ending doesn't ever change. And in English, the meaning changes to "very."


In estate qui il sole è molto forte.

In summer, the sun here is very strong.

Caption 40, Adriano - Le stagioni dell'anno

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Poco works the same way as molto and can be used as an adjective or an adverb. Here, poche agrees with ore (the plural of ora).


Poche ore fa, non più di tre.

Just a few hours ago, no more than three.

Caption 43, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP2 - L'addio di Lara

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But here, it's an adverb modifying chiaro (clear).


C'è sicuramente qualcosa di poco chiaro là sotto.

There is for sure something not very clear underneath it all.

Caption 40, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone - EP1 I Bastardi - Part 15

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Molto and poco are opposites, more or less, but we have some "in-between" words, too. 



Abbastanza is interesting because it comes from the verb bastare (to suffice). So the most logical translation for abbastanza might be "sufficiently" — to the degree of being sufficient, or "enough," which in English comes after the adjective it modifies. In everyday speech, however, we often equate abbastanza with "rather," "fairly," or in colloquial speech, "pretty." 


Era abbastanza timida, abbastanza riservata.

She was rather shy, rather reserved.

Caption 2, Illuminate - Rita Levi Montalcini

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Certo, Lojacono mi sembra uno abbastanza sveglio,

Of course, Lojacono seems quite smart to me,

ma per quanto riguarda il resto della squadra,

but regarding the rest of the team,

Lei è messo male, io lo so.

you are in bad shape, I know.

Captions 36-38, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone - EP1 I Bastardi - Part 9

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A synonym for abbastanza is piuttosto, usually translated as "rather." It's on the positive end of the scale but not at the top. When you say abbastanza, you might be saying something is lacking, that something is just sufficient, especially when coupled with a positive adjective such as buono (good) bene, (good, well) or bello (beautiful, nice).


Come ti senti?

How do you feel?

Abbastanza bene. -Ce la fai?

Pretty good. -Can you manage?

Captions 72-73, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP11 - Uno strano incidente di caccia

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But with piuttosto, it's usually positive relative to what it's modifying and serves to reinforce the positive aspect of something without actually going to the point of saying molto (very). So it's generally (but not always) higher on the scale than abbastanza.


Anche se, su certi argomenti, se la cava piuttosto bene devo dire.

Even though, on some subjects, she manages rather well, I must say.

Caption 52, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero

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So of course it can also modify a negative adjective, and reinforces its characteristic, as in this example:


La gestione all'interno della casa

The running of the household

è stata piuttosto complicata, i primi giorni,

was quite complicated, the first days,

Captions 2-3, COVID-19 - 3) La quarantena

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Nella memory card ce n'erano anche altre, piuttosto sfocate.

On the memory card there were others too, and rather blurry.

Caption 9, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP4 - Miss Maremma

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This adverb is similar to piuttosto, but is often another way of saying molto (much, very). But it can also be just a short step lower than molto, depending on the context and the region the speaker is from.


Ma in realtà, pensate, dopo praticamente sette secoli e più,

But actually, just think: After practically seven-plus centuries,

questi colori si sono leggermente sbiaditi. Sono assai meno brillanti.

these colors have faded somewhat. They are much less brilliant.

Captions 26-27, Meraviglie - EP. 4 - Part 4

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Another qualifying adverb is parecchio (a great deal). It's used a lot as an adjective, but works fine as an adverb, too. See this lesson.


Quindi, quando sarà finito, sicuramente mi riposerò,

So, when it's all done, I'll take a break, for sure,

perché sto parecchio stressata.

because I am totally stressed out.

Captions 50-51, Fuori era primavera - Viaggio nell'Italia del lockdown

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See this video for some explanations in Italian about qualifying adverbs, now that we've given you some pointers in English.

People have their personal favorites when it comes to adverb qualifiers. So keep your eyes and ears open. Listen for the variable endings when these qualifiers are adjectives, and the invariable ending when they're adverbs. This takes patience and experience. But little by little, you will put two and two together. 

This list isn't set in stone, as these adverbs can be used differently by different people, but it can help give you an idea. 


  • molto, parecchio
  • assai
  • piuttosto
  • abbastanza
  • poco
  • per niente (at all)  — We didn't discuss this here but you will find it mentioned in other lessons if you do a search of niente.


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3 expressions with tanto

Tanto is a word used in a host of expressions to mean lots of different things. Sometimes it's by itself, sometimes it's put together with other words to form an expression, and sometimes there's a preposition to make it mean something particular. The combinations are fairly endless. Little by little, you will figure them out on a need-to-know basis.


Here's one that is clear and easy to use and understand:

Ogni tanto penso di aver sbagliato a lasciarti.

Every now and then I think I made a mistake by leaving you.

Caption 30, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 14

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Tanto by itself can mean "much" and is used as an adjective, but here, it's one way to say "in any case," or "anyway."

Tanto non mi avrebbe mai presa.

In any case, you would never have taken me on.

Caption 10, Adriano Olivetti La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 11

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In the next example, tanto is used with other words to form the expression: Tanto per cambiare


Let's first remember that  the verb cambiare means "to change." This expression is primarily used to be ironic or sarcastic. In this case, Cettina always does the shopping, so why is Libero even asking her about it? She's saying something to the effect of "Yeah, so what else is new?" 


Hai fatto la spesa? -Eh, tanto per cambiare.

Did you do the shopping? -Yeah, for a change.

Captions 3-4, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 1 EP 4 Buon Compleanno Maria - Part 2

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As expressions with tanto come up in our videos, we will point them out in lessons. For now, maybe you can experiment with using these three ways to use tanto.

Ogni tanto


Tanto per cambiare 

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When bello doesn't mean beautiful

One of the first words we learn in Italian is bello. In fact, it's a very handy word, and one Italians use constantly. The translation we see first in just about any dictionary is "beautiful." It starts with B, and is easy to remember.

Un palazzo rinascimentale molto, molto... molto bello.

A Renaissance building that's very, very... very beautiful.

Caption 6, Antonio racconta Praia a Mare

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But let's look at some other translations for the word bello, translations we might not think of right away. Of course, when we are immersing ourselves in the Italian language, we don't really need to think too hard about the translation. We listen and repeat. The more we participate in or listen to Italian conversation, the more we get a feel for when to use bello and when to use molto bello, bellissimo, or some other adjective, such as carino, as we discuss below. 


Bello for both men and women

We can use the adjective bello (with its appropriate endings) to describe either a man or a woman. In English, we might say "a beautiful man," but it's more customary to say "handsome" for a man. In Italian, it's the same word, but the ending has to match the gender and number of the subject described.

un bel uomo (a handsome man)

una bella donna (a beautiful woman)

due belle ragazze (two pretty girls)

due bei ragazzi (two nice-looking boys)

Quei ragazzi sono belli


We use the adjective to describe not only people, but also things, experiences, ideas, etc. 


We recommend watching Daniela's video lessons about bello, buono and bene if you haven't yet!


Superlatives and degrees of "beauty"

In English, "beautiful" is already a kind of superlative relative to "pretty" in many cases. But the absolute superlative of bello is bellissimo. It's like saying "very beautiful" or "gorgeous." Another way to say this is bello bello. We discuss this way of forming an absolute superlative in this lesson


So on a qualitative scale, bello might be closer to "pretty" and bellissimo might be equivalent to "beautiful." But much of the time this adjective is subjective, and the meaning depends on how it's expressed, what it's describing, and who is doing the describing. Let's keep in mind another word that can be used to mean "pretty": carino/carina. But carino can also mean "nice" when talking about a person or an action carried out by a person, so sometimes understanding it needs some context or clarification. 

Ah. -Mh mh. -Molto carino da parte tua.

Ah. -Hm. -Very nice/kind on your part.

Caption 42, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 12

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Great - enjoyable - nice - wonderful

Bello can also be used to mean "great," "nice," "enjoyable," "lovely," and more. 

Bello stare tranquilli in piscina tutto il giorno, eh?

Nice staying peacefully in the pool all day long, huh?

Caption 56, Acqua in bocca Mp3 Marino - Ep 2

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Mi trovo in Polonia, per festeggiare quello che sarà il giorno più bello della mia vita.

I'm in Poland to celebrate what will be the most wonderful day of my life.

Captions 5-6, Adriano Matrimonio con Anita - Part 1

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Taking into account the fact that "nice" can mean lots of things, here is another example of when we say bello and we mean "nice."   

Ma, signora! Che bello vederti. È una vita che non ti vedo.

Oh, Ma'am! How nice to see you. I haven't seen you in a lifetime.

Captions 2-3, Dafne Film - Part 10

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The translation could easily have been "wonderful" or "great," since Dafne says she and the woman hadn't seen each other in a long time. The point is that it had nothing to do with beauty in this context.


Bello can reinforce another adjective

Bello can also be used to mean "nice and" or "quite." In other words, it can act as an adverb describing an adjective in order to reinforce the meaning of the adjective.

Il filetto rimarrà bello gustoso e non saprà di affumicato, non saprà di bruciato.

The fillet will remain nice and tasty and won't taste smoked, won't taste burnt.

Caption 37, Cucinare il pesce Filetto di branzino alla griglia

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Bello can also be used as an adjective describing something negative, just as "nice" can in English.

Certo che ci ha fatto prendere un bello spavento, eh!

For sure you gave us a nice scare, huh!

For sure you gave us quite a scare, huh!

Caption 46, Il Commissario Manara S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi - Part 16

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As you can see, bello is used in lots of ways, and we certainly haven't covered all of them here. One thing is for sure: We can't always translate bello with "beautiful." So keep your eyes and ears open for different nuances of the word bello as you listen to conversations, as you try to speak Italian, and as you watch Yabla videos on the handy player where you can pause, repeat a caption, and look up words, as well as do the exercises to reinforce what you are learning. 


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Being fixated in Italian

There are lots of ways to talk about being obsessed with something or someone, being fixated or having a thing about or for something, or being "into" something. "Obsession" is a pretty strong word, so we often like to use softer, more positive terms. In Italian, too, there are various words we can use. In this lesson, we will explore just one way Italians commonly talk about being intensely interested in something. It uses the verb fissare which, in this context, may be translated as "to fixate," even though that might not be the word we would choose in many cases.



Past participle as adjective

If you look at the link we have provided, you will see that there are quite a few meanings for the verb fissare. We'll address those in another lesson.


Keep in mind that sometimes we translate fissare with "fixate" because it's a cognate that works, making the Italian word easy to understand. But in English, we have lots of other ways to express the same thing. "Fixated" can come across as being a negative thing in English, but Italians use the word pretty casually. Let's also keep in mind that, as in English, we're using the past participle as a sort of adjective.


Anche Lei fissato con la cucina italiana?

You're also fixated with Italian cuisine?

Caption 44, La Ladra EP. 1 - Le cose cambiano - Part 13

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We might not use the term "fixated" but we can understand it well enough. We might sooner say someone obsesses over something, such as "Oh, you obsess over Italian cooking, too?"


Papà era fissato.

Dad was obsessed.

Caption 3, La Tempesta film - Part 10

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Sometimes, as in the previous example, we're really talking about an obsession, but sometimes it's about being set in one's ways. We might recognize a character flaw in a light-hearted way. In the example below, Marika and Anna are talking about the Italian tradition of having bread at a meal when there is already a wheat-based carbohydrate in the form of pasta. Italians love to scrape the remaining pasta sauce off their plate with a piece of bread. They call this fare la scarpetta (to make a little shoe). 

Comunque... -Siamo un po' fissati. Quello della scarpetta è... Sì, è un rito, quasi.

Anyway... -We're a little fixated. The "little shoe" thing is... Yes, it's almost a ritual.

Captions 48-50, Anna e Marika Un Ristorante a Trastevere

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So even though we have translated it as "fixated," we'd more likely say that Italians love  to sop up the sauce with a piece of bread. 


Reflexive verb

Fissare is also used reflexively. In this case, it's not being used as an adjective but rather as a verb, as if to say, "to become fixated," or "to get obsessed." 

Mio marito si è fissato con Jacques Brel

My husband has become obsessed with Jacques Brel

Caption 55, La Ladra EP. 9 - L'amico sconosciuto - Part 10

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Noun form

We can also use the noun form la fissa, the equivalent of "fixation."

Joy ha sempre avuto la fissa per la cucina.

Joy has always had a thing for cooking.

Caption 60, JAMS S1 EP 1 - Part 1

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Which preposition?

You might ask, "What preposition do I use after fissato, fissata, fissate, or fissati?" Because, as in English, we do use a preposition when there is an object. So in this context, fissare is an intransitive verb.


In Italian, there seem to be two main ones: con (with) or per (for). When we use la fissa or una fissa we'll likely choose per (for). Keep your eyes and ears open to see how Italians handle this. Often, as we have seen, there is no object at all. 


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Questo and Quello: How do they work?

Many of us know that questo means "this" and quello means "that." They work similarly to English when they are adjectives. 



When they function as pronouns, things change somewhat. When it comes to things and ideas, Italian and English can work similarly.


È quello che voglio dire (that's what I mean). Literally, "It's that that I mean".


But when it comes to certain constructions, English has some usage rules that differ from Italian. Sometimes it helps to look at one's native language to get more insight into the differences. Check out this WordReference article about this and that. But with that in mind, let's focus on how Italian works.


When we are choosing something in a shop or at a bancarella at the market, instead of saying, "I'd like that one," we can just use quello or quella. In this case, if there is no noun following them, quello and quella are pronouns.

Vorrei quello (I'd like that one).

Vorrei quello lì (I'd like that one over there).


In the same vein, when talking about people, Italians often use questo/a or quello/a to talk about "this guy," that guy," "this lady/girl/gal/woman," "that lady/girl/gal/woman"). Italians don't need to use "that" as an adjective in this case. They can use questo/a or quello/a as a pronoun. We determine the gender of the person or animal referred to by the ending a or o


Further, where we might think of using "that" because the person we're talking about is not close by, Italians might use questo (this) anyway, when it is close to them in mind, but not necessarily spatially. 


In the example below, the speaker uses both quella and questa to refer to the same person (a girl in a certain class at school). In the first case, it's a pronoun referring to "that girl." In the second case, questa is being used as an adjective describing the same girl. 

Quella di quinta C. 'Sta [questa] stronza.

The one from five C. That bitch.

Caption 29, Provaci ancora prof! S2E3 Dietro la porta - Part 2

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Let's also note that the speaker truncates questa to 'sta, something that is very common, but doesn't really work with quella


So in English, you might say, "That idiot!" but in Italian, it might very well be Quest'idiota! It could also be Quell'idiota.


To sum up, it's good to keep in mind that Italians don't always have the same parameters English speakers do when it comes to questo/a and quello/a — this and that.

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Using nouns as adjectives in Italian. How does it work?

In English, we can use nouns as adjectives to answer the question, "what kind?" For example, "dog days" are the hottest days of summer. In this case, it's not really comparing the dog to the heat, but comes from the star, Sirius, who was Orion's dog in the constellations. It rises at the same time as the sun on the hottest days in the northern hemisphere. The Romans got this from the Greeks, and called these days, "dies caniculares" (dog days). 



In terms of grammar, we know "dog" is a noun, but here, we use it as an adjective to describe "days," without giving it a different ending. We don't say, "dogful" days, "doggy days," or even "dog-like days." So this is a phenomenon that is present in many situations in English.


Let's remember here  — because we don't have to think about it — that in English, we put the noun-as-adjective before the noun it describes. Sometimes the noun-as-adjective merges with the noun and becomes a compound word and sometimes not: laundry room, dishwasher, picture frame, bicycle rack.


We have the same phenomenon in Italian. The big difference is that the order is inverse. First, we have the noun, then we have the noun-as-adjective. To connect with our example of "dog days," we turn to an expression that is very common in Italian, and in fact, it crops up in an episode of Sposami

E poi una notte, che io dormivo sotto il cavalcavia e faceva un freddo cane, quella notte io credevo che sarei morto...

And then, one night, when I was sleeping under an overpass, and it was freezing cold, that night, I believed I would die...

Captions 6-8, Sposami EP 4 - Part 19

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And here is a more mundane example:

Lo abbiamo fatto pure in conferenza stampa l'altro ieri

We even did it at the press conference the day before yesterday

Caption 22, Animalisti Italiani Walter Caporale - Part 2

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The real noun is conferenza (conferenza). What kind of conference? una conferenza stampa (a press conference). 


This difference in word order is tricky sometimes, and it is just as tricky for Italians attempting to speak English correctly. 


English is a popular language, and Italians use it in publicity and signage. But sometimes the word order difference escapes them. The name of a riding school in Tuscany is "Planet Horse." This is because, in general, for an Italian, the adjective (even if it is a noun-as-adjective, as in this case) comes after the noun. What they were trying to say, even though it sounds bad, is "Horse Planet" — the planet of horses. We might say, "Horse World." They, of course, translated it from Italian: Pianeta cavallo.


In some cases, both the noun-as-adjective and the adjective form of a noun can work:


Let's take the noun bestia (beast, animal).


We can say:  Fa un caldo bestia (it is incredibly hot) or Fa un caldo bestiale (it's beastly hot). Using the noun as an adjective in this case is more colloquial, but they are both acceptable.


Of course, in Italian, when answering the question, "What kind?" we often use a preposition, such as di or da, or an "articulated preposition," such as del, della, delle, or degli before the "descriptive" noun. These prepositions usually mean "of."

Il bidone della spazzatura (the garbage can)

Il professore di matematica (the math teacher)

Il forno da pizza (the pizza oven)


We can't always use a noun as an adjective, but it is important to know that it exists as a phenomenon, and to recognize it when it occurs.


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Big and small with endings: -one and -ino

Instead of using adjectives to talk about size, Italian has the device of altering the noun itself, thus producing a new word. Different endings are added onto the root word. Let's look at how this works with some nouns with feminine endings.


An example of this is pentola. Una pentola is a pot. It's already pretty big, big enough for cooking pasta. Un pentolone is an even bigger pot for if you're cooking lots of pasta or canning tomatoes, as in the second example below. We could also say una pentola grande, (a big pot) but sometimes it's easier to say pentolone. So, when you hear a word that ends in -one, it's likely a large version of something that comes in various sizes. 

Ci serve, naturalmente, anche qualcosa per cuocere la pasta. Una pentola, un'altra pentola per la pasta,

We also need, naturally, something for cooking the pasta. A pot, another pot for the pasta,

Captions 79-81, L'Italia a tavola Tonnarelli cacio e pepe - Part 1

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Here, a woman is describing how to make tomato sauce to can. She's going to make a big batch.

Alcuni, eh, lo fanno appassire un po' dentro i pentoloni sul fuoco...

Some, uh, cook them down a bit in big pots on the burner...

Caption 28, Giovanna spiega La passata di pomodori

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When the item in discussion is the smalller version, the ending -ino is typical: 

E per farlo, prendiamo un pentolino come questo e ci mettiamo un pochino di olio extravergine di oliva.

And to do that we take a saucepan like this and we put a little extra virgin olive oil in it.

Captions 18-19, Marika spiega La Parmigiana di melanzane - Part 1

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Una capanna is a shack,  shed, or hut. It's a feminine noun.

...oppure costruivamo una capanna con delle sedie e delle coperte

...or else we'd build a hut out of chairs and bed covers

Caption 8, Anna e Marika ricordi di infanzia

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Un capannone can either be called a "shed," even though it's big, a "hangar," or, in the case of a mechanic's workplace, a "garage." It will have a different name in English depending on its use. It may or may not have 4 walls. It may or may not be makeshift.


...che segnalava la presenza di auto truccate in un capannone al Quadraro e trac. Va be', allora vogliamo brindare?

...that reported the presence of souped-up cars in a hangar in Quadraro, and boom. OK, so do we want to make a toast?

Captions 35-37, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 14

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If the shack or hut is tiny, as it would be for a hunter's blind, then il capannino is the word of choice. There might be room for just one person.



Although una macchina can be any kind of machine, it's also the word for car. The more official Italian word is automobile, just like in English. The stress goes on the second O, however.

Infatti, quando ho compiuto venti anni, mi ha regalato una macchina nuova.

In fact, when I turned twenty, she got me a new car.

Captions 31-32, Adriano Nonna

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Ci porta Giampi, che lui c'ha un macchinone.

Giampi will take us. He has a big car.

Caption 53, Sposami EP 3 - Part 7

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Sometimes the resulting word can retain the gender of the original word, as in the case of macchina

E sotto c'era un altro cartellino bianco con disegnato su un camioncino con un gancettino che si porta via una macchinina.

And below it was another little white sign picturing a little truck with a little hook on it, which is towing a little car away.

Captions 89-91, Provaci ancora prof! S2EP1 - La finestra sulla scuola - Part 1

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As you listen to more videos, you will start noticing the endings -one and -ino. Look for the noun within the noun and you'll often be able to figure out what a word means.


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Making choices in Italian part 2

We talked about making either/or choices in a previous lesson, but in this lesson, we'll talk about when we want to be inclusive. When we use "both" in English, we are talking about 2 things, not more. There are various ways to express this in Italian and we've discussed one of these ways, using tutti (all). Read the lesson here. Here are two more ways, which are perhaps easier to use.


Entrambi is both an adjective and a pronoun, depending on how you use it. 

Avevamo entrambi la febbre e i bambini da accudire.

We both had fevers and kids to take care of.

Captions 20-21, COVID-19 2) I sintomi

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When the nouns are feminine, we use the feminine ending: entrambe.

Per fortuna, avevo entrambe le cose nella mia cassetta degli attrezzi.

Luckily, I had both things in my toolbox.

Caption 13, Marika spiega Gli attrezzi

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This way of saying "both" is considered literary, but people do use it. Think of ambidextrous and you'll get it!

Hanno ambedue smesso, quindi devo superare questo record ed è... sono in caccia del mio sesto mondiale.

They've both quit, so I have to break this record and it's... well, I am chasing my sixth World Cup.

Captions 49-50, Valentina Vezzali Video Intervista

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Just like entrambi, ambedue can be used as both an adjective and a pronoun. The advantage of this word is that it doesn't change. It's invariable. The only thing you have to remember is that when you use it as an adjective, you need a definite article after it and before the (plural) noun, as in the example below.

Ecco, questa, questa arma, ehm... rimane e fa ambedue, ambedue le funzioni, sia... è riconosciuta a livello di Esercito Italiano,

So, this, this force, uh... is still in force and carries out both, both [the] functions, whether... it's recognized on the level of the Italian Army

Captions 35-37, Nicola Agliastro Le Forze dell'Ordine in Italia

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There's more to say about choices, but we'll save it for another lesson. Meanwhile, as you go about your day, try thinking of ways to practice using entrambi and ambedue to mean "both." There are so many choices!

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Noioso: Boring or Annoying?

A Yabla subscriber has asked us to shed some light on the difference between noioso and annoiato. They are both adjectives and can be used to describe a person. There are some intricacies involved with these words, which we'll get to, but let's start out with the noun: la noia.


Che noia!

What a bore!

Caption 9, Acqua in bocca - Un amico per Pippo

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What is tricky about this noun (and its related adjectives) is that it can indeed imply boredom, but it can also mean "the bother" or "the nuisance." In fact, in the previous example, we don't know the context, but the meaning could also have been "what a nuisance," or "what a pain." The noun noia rarely refers to a person him- or herself, as "bore" would in English.




The following example is from Tuscany where noia is used a great deal to mean "bother." And it's often used with the verb dare (to give) — dare noia (to be a bother, to be annoying, to be in the way).


Erano alberi che davano noia e basta,

They were trees that were a bother and nothing more,

Caption 30, Gianni si racconta - L'olivo e i rovi

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So che noia can mean "what boredom" or "what a pain!" And dare noia can be interpreted as bothering, or being a bother, or being in the way.



We also have the verb annoiare that does remind one of the verb "to annoy." Indeed, that is one of the meanings and comes from the Latin "inodiare" — avere in odio (to have hateful feelings for).


Mi disturba, mi annoia,

You're bothering me, you're annoying me,

Caption 11, L'Italia a tavola - Interrogazione sul Piemonte

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But it is much more common for this verb to be used in its reflexive form annoiarsi. In this case it's always about being bored or possibly fed up.


Io non mi annoio mai quando sto con lui, mai.

I never get bored when I am with him, ever.

Caption 34, Provaci ancora prof! - S1E3 - Una piccola bestia ferita

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We've seen that noia isn't just about boredom, so likewise, noioso can mean boring, but not necessarily. Let's look at some examples of the different nuances.

Noioso can describe a person who is not very interesting, a dull person:


Abbiamo solamente avuto un piccolo flirt.

We just had a little fling.

Genere depresso e noioso, capisci?

Depressed and boring type, you understand?

Captions 9-10, Provaci ancora prof! - S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale

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It can also describe a movie, for example: 

Il film era noioso, purtroppo (the movie was boring, unfortunately).


Here's a perfect example of something that is not boring. It's annoying. And in fact, the N and O sounds can hint at that.


Eh, povero Dixi, il singhiozzo è noioso

Oh, poor Dixi, the hiccups are bothersome

Caption 15, Dixiland - Il singhiozzo

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Annoiato can be used as the past participle of annoiare, or more often, as we mentioned above, the past participle of the reflexive verb annoiarsi. In this case, it means "to get or to be bored."


Oppure: "No, non andrò alla festa di Marcello.

Or: "No, I won't go to Marcello's party.

Ci sono già stato l'anno scorso e mi sono annoiato".

I already went to it last year and I got bored."

Captions 48-49, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Particella Ci e Ne

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But as often occurs, past participles are also used as adjectives. With annoiato, this can describe one's state of being.


Ciao. Sei annoiato o annoiata

Hi. Are you bored (m) or bored (f)

e ti vuoi divertire e rilassare?

and you want to have a good time and relax?

Captions 3-4, Marika spiega - Il cinema

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Just for fun:

Let's try using all these forms in a silly, made-up dialogue.

Lei: Sembri annoiato, è così? (You seem bored. Are you?)


Lui: No, ho solo sonno (No, I'm just sleepy.) E inoltre, come posso annoiarmi ad ascoltare i tuoi racconti per l'ennesima volta? (And besides, how can I get bored listening to you tell your stories for the umteenth time?)


Lei: Beh, so che posso essere un po' noiosa a volte, scusami (Well, I know I can be a bit boring at times, sorry.) Allora smetto di darti noia, e me ne vado (I'll stop bothering you, then, and I'll leave.)


Lui: No, aspetta, se vai via mi annoierò davvero (If you leave, I will get bored for real.) E tra l'altro, ho dei lavori noiosissimi da fare e non ne ho nessuna voglia (And besides, I have some really tedious jobs to do and I have no desire to do them.)


Lei: OK, so che sono noiosa, ma non sarebbe meglio fare quei lavori dato che siano anche urgenti (OK, I know I am being a pain, but wouldn't it be better to do those jobs, given that they're urgent?)


Lui: OK, ora sei noiosa davvero. Mi sono ampiamente annoiato con questa storia (OK, now you are really being boring/irritating. I'm pretty sick of this thing), quindi forse è meglio se te ne vai... (so maybe it's better if you do leave.)


OK, ciao. Non ti voglio annoiare con un'altra delle mie storie noiose. (OK, bye. I don't want to bore you with another of my boring stories.)


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Uno: a Number, an Article, and More

In English, we have the pronoun "one" and the number "one." They both refer to something single but do not mean exactly the same thing. We have a similar phenomenon in Italian, but it goes a step further. This lesson will explore the word uno in various contexts, and since this will take us to the subject of "indefinite articles," we'll take the opportunity to look at those, too!


Uno (one) can be the number "one":


Adesso proveremo noi insieme un passo base di Tango.

Now, together, we'll try out the basic steps of the Tango.

Uno, due, tre.

One, two, three.

Captions 38-39, Adriano - balla il Tango Argentino

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We can use uno as an adjective when we are talking about "how many?" One. 

Ho trovato solo uno stivale. L'altro l'ho perso (I found only one boot. I lost the other one).



Indefinite article

Uno is an indefinite article, "a", used only when followed by a Z or by an S + a consonant:*


Uno scontrino, perché?

"Uno scontrino." Why?

Perché la parola inizia per s più consonante.

Because the word starts with "s" plus a consonant.

Captions 55-56, Corso di italiano con Daniela - l'articolo indeterminativo

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Uno scolapasta.

A colander.

Caption 27, Adriano - Pasta alla carbonara

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Other forms of the indefinite article

When the masculine word following the article begins with a vowel or single consonant (excluding Z) it's un.


Quello che è successo è un segnale.

What happened is a sign.

Caption 9, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 21

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This is the most common masculine indefinite article and as we mentioned above, it remains the same even when it comes before a vowel (no apostrophe).


Stiamo cercando un aviatore americano.

We're looking for an American pilot.

Caption 6, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 5

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When this article comes before a feminine noun (or the adjective that describes it), it's una.


Hai una bellissima voce.

You have a very beautiful voice.

Caption 9, Adriano - Fiaba

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If the feminine indefinite article una comes before a word that starts with a vowel, it becomes un'  so as not to break the flow.


Magari sarà per un'altra volta.

Perhaps, another time.

Caption 7, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep.2 - Part 12

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A Pronoun 

Here, instead of saying give me una borsa (a bag), Eva just says give me one of them.


Dai, dammene una. -No, no, so' [romanesco: sono] abituata.

Come on, give me one of them. -No, no, I'm used to it.

Caption 6, La Ladra Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 5

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Attenzione! In order to speak correctly, you have to know the gender of the noun you are replacing!


But uno can also mean the pronoun "someone."


Allora, innanzitutto, quando uno studia a uni'... a una università,

So, first of all, when someone studies at a uni... at a university,

eh, per esempio in Italia, eh, a Firenze...

uh, for example, in Italy, uh, in Florence...

Captions 17-18, Arianna e Marika - Il Progetto Erasmus

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Uno quando ha un talento, lo deve coltivare.

When someone has talent, he has to cultivate it.

Caption 73, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 12

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Generally speaking, the masculine form is used to mean "someone," however, if you want to specify that that someone is a female, then una can serve the same purpose.



For English speakers, getting the article right in Italian can be confusing, especially since in many cases, you have to know the gender of the noun you are using the article with and that can be daunting, too!


Translator's pitfall:

When translating, we often have to think twice. Does uno/un/una mean "one" or "a"? Since it's the same word in Italian, it's not always clear!


Doing the Scribe exercises at the end of the videos you watch can be a great way to learn how to use the articles — You ask yourself, "When do I use the apostrophe? And when not?" You'll make plenty of mistakes, but little by little it will sink in. 


If you want more lessons about using articles, let us know at


*Here are some of the video lessons that might be helpful for learning about using indefinite articles (called articoli indeterminativi).


Corso di italiano con Daniela - l'articolo indeterminativo - Part 1

Corso di italiano con Daniela - l'articolo indeterminativo - Part 2

Corso di italiano con Daniela - l'articolo indeterminativo - Part 3

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Minimalist Italian — with Che

One of the hardest things to do in a new language is to construct a sentence. Understanding is one thing, but putting words together can be such a challenge.


The good news is that sometimes you don't have to say much to get your idea across. Let's look at some ways to comment on things without actually constructing a sentence. Using che, we can either complain about something: che caldo (how hot it is), or we can be making a compliment: che buono (this is so good).


The magic word

The magic word is che (that, what, which). We then add the appropriate adjective.


Che bello! Ciao! -Che bello!

How nice! Bye! -How nice!

Captions 75-76, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

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Ehm, guardate che carino.

Uh, look how pretty.

Caption 23, Professioni e mestieri - Belle Arti -Tecniche di decorazione

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The speaker could have just said, che carino!



Oddio che freddo!

Oh my God it's freezing!

Caption 59, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

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We could use the same formula to talk about the heat or the humidity. Actually some of these words can be used as nouns or adjectives.

Che caldo! (How hot it is!)

Che umido (How humid it is)


Nouns can work too, sometimes

Sometimes we can add a noun instead of an adjective:


Che facciamo? Il telefono... Anche il mio. -Che sfiga!

What can we do? The telephone... Mine too. -What a bummer!

Captions 37-39, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

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E che cavolo!

Hey what the hell?

Caption 22, La Ladra - Ep. 6 - Nero di rabbia

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A few more examples of che + a noun

Che sole (what [bright] sun)!

Che tramonto (what a sunset)!

Che cena (what a [great] dinner)

Che umidità (what humidity)!

Che afa (how muggy it is)!

Che giornata (what a day)!


Sometimes we don't even need che

In some cases, we don't even need to use che.


Strano, perché Eva mi ha detto che è laureata.

Strange, because Eva told me she had a degree.

Caption 50, La Ladra - Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti

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This sentence could have been:

Che strano. Eva mi ha detto che è laureato.

How strange. Eva told me she had a degree. 


Something extra to know:


When we are at the extremes of the adjective spectrum, in other words, when using adjectives in their comparative or superlative form we don't use che, because we are already, in effect, making something superlative, with che. If we want to use the superlative, it's better to go for the adjective all by itself.

We wouldn't say che bellissimo. We would just say bellissimo (very beautiful)!

Che bello says pretty much the same thing.


To conclude

There are lots of way to talk about things, but it's nice to have an easy, minimalist way, especially if we are beginners, or just having trouble finding the words. Che is a word that is also used with the subjunctive, and therefore might instill a bit of anxiety in learners, but it can also be our friend. 


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