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Getting Adjectives to Behave - Part 2

See also: Getting Adjectives to Behave - Part 1

In a previous lesson, and in Daniela's video lesson, we talked about aggettivi positivi, meaning those adjectives that end in o and change their endings according to gender and number. An example of this kind of adjective is grosso (big).

Mio padre è un uomo grosso (my father is a big man).
La casa di mia zia è grossa (my aunt's house is big).
Questi due alberi sono grossi (these two trees are big).
Quelle melanzane sono grosse (those eggplants are big).

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If you've gotten the hang of positive adjectives, you might instinctively put an e ending on the adjective when you're talking about a feminine noun in the plural. 

Quelle donne sono belle (those women are beautiful).

The other kind of adjective, called an aggettivo neutro, ends in e. In the singular, it stays the same, ending in e regardless of whether the noun it modifies is masculine or feminine.

 

E... mi ha reso una donna forte, una donna indipendente, autonoma.

And... she made me a strong woman, an independent woman, free.

Caption 69, Essere... madre

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If we put this sentence in the masculine the adjective stays the same: 

Mi ha reso un uomo forte...
She made me a strong man...

But what about the plural? The adjective forte (strong) already ends in e, so what do we do? The answer is that in the plural, regardless of whether it's masculine or feminine, the e changes to an i.

This is easy in a way—only two different endings to think about instead of four—but it's not always so easy to remember, and may come less naturally. In the following example, maniera (way, manner) is a feminine noun. The plural article le helps us discover that. We form the plural of the noun by changing the a to e, and since the singular adjective ends in e, we change it to i in the plural. So far so good.

 

Però, oh, con voi ci vogliono le maniere forti, sennò non capite.

But, oh, with you strong measures are needed, otherwise you don't get it.

Caption 15, Ma che ci faccio qui! - Un film di Francesco Amato - Part 13

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Attenzione però (and here's where the adjectives misbehave), because a feminine noun may also end in e. In this case, the plural of the noun ends in i, and a neutral adjective will also end in i. If you don't happen to know the gender of corrente (current) in the following example, the plural noun and plural adjective may lead you to believe that it's masculine. 

 

L'incontro tra i due mari produce infatti forti correnti.

The meeting of the two seas produces, in fact, strong currents.

Caption 31, Linea Blu - Sicilia - Part 2

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Fortunately, in the next example, the speaker uses the article!

 

In questo tratto di mare numerosi infatti erano gli affondamenti nel passato, a causa delle forti correnti che si scontrano con violenza.

In this stretch of sea, there were numerous shipwrecks in the past, because of the strong currents that collide violently.

Captions 35-36, Linea Blu - Sicilia - Part 5

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Here, we've learned from the feminine plural ending of delle (of the), that corrente is a feminine noun, but who knew?

One more reason to learn the article along with the noun!

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See these Yabla videos for more about nouns: their genders and their plurals.

 

Corso di italiano con Daniela: Articoli maschili plurale 
Corso di italiano con Daniela: Articolo femminile plurale
Corso di italiano con Daniela: Articoli ed eccezioni

Marika spiega: Genere maschile
Marika spiega: Genere femminile
Marika spiega: Il plurale
 

In fondo in fondo

When you arrive in a new country, one of the first challenges is to find your way around. Asking directions is one thing. Understanding them is another!

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A destra (to the right) and a sinistra (to the left) are pretty basic, but when someone starts saying in fondo (at the end, in the end, at the bottom), there may be some confusion as to exactly what’s meant. 

 

Fondo has to do with distance and depth. Let’s first look at its literal, physical meaning.

 

Ha bisogno di qualcosa? Sì, sì, un bagno. È in fondo a destra. -Scusi.

Do you need anything? Yes, yes, a bathroom. It's at the end of the hall, to the right. -Excuse me.

Captions 40-42, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi

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The above is a very typical answer to the question, “Where is the restroom?”

In fondo may indicate the furthest point (at the end) or the lowest point, as in in fondo alle scale (at the bottom of the stairs). If you’re late for a movie, you will probably sit in fondo (at the back).

 

Fondo often has to do with long distance, as in sci di fondo (cross-country skiing). A long-distance bicycle race will be il gran fondo. Note that the word profondo (deep) contains the root fondo! A very low bass singer will be a basso profondo

 

Ed ecco davanti a noi, nel blu profondo, una forma scura come quella di un grosso pesce adagiato sul fondo.

And here, in front of us, in the deep blue, a dark form shaped like a big fish lying on the bottom.

Captions 38-39, Linea Blu - Sicilia

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Italians often use piatti fondi (soup plates) for eating pasta or brodo (broth). They’re deep enough to hold liquids. 

 

Note that fondo is used both as a noun and as an adjective! Un fondo can be a fund, it can be a storage area, it can be a backdrop or background. It can be a piece of land. In makeup, fondotinta is your makeup base or foundation. 

 

Turning now to concepts rather than physical things, fondo, preceded by the preposition a (to, at, in), takes on the idea of “in depth,” or “thorough.”

 

In bagno, è molto importante pulire a fondo.

In the bathroom it's very important to clean thoroughly.

Caption 34, Marika spiega - Le pulizie di primavera

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If you think about getting “to the bottom” of things, a fondo makes sense.

If you want to go all the way, vai fino in fondo (you go all the way), both literally and figuratively.

In fondo is used to mean “in the end,” or “after all is said and done,” or “deep down.”

 

Per questo preferisco i gatti. E poi, i gatti in fondo hanno sempre sette vite.

That's why I prefer cats. And then, after all, they always have seven lives.

Captions 30-31, Escursione - Un picnic in campagna

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Then there’s a popular expression in fondo in fondo (deep down) used primarily in talking about people:

 

Insomma, sai che ti dico, zia? Che come commissario, in fondo in fondo, non è poi così male...

All in all, you know what I have to say, Aunt? That as a commissioner, deep down, he's not really so bad...

Captions 11-12, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP3 - Rapsodia in Blu

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It wouldn’t hurt to approfondire (to go into things more thoroughly, more deeply) a bit regarding the word fondo. There are plenty of examples in Yabla videos, and there are plenty of examples on WordReference.com. Remember that context is key! In fondo in fondo, è una parola molto utile! (All in all, it’s a very useful word!)

Vocabulary

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