Italian Adjectives: Everything You Need to Know

Learn 85 of the most commonly used adjectives in daily Italian conversations.

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Italian adjectives add an exciting dimension to your language journey because they're your artistic tools for painting vivid word pictures. Think of adjectives as the brushstrokes that bring life to nouns, which are like the canvas capturing people, places, or things. In English, we sprinkle adjectives like magic dust, saying things like: "the sky is blue", "our students are exceptionally focused" or "my mischievous cat is playfully chasing shadows".

In this article, you will get to know the various types of adjectives in Italian, and learn 85 of the most common Italian adjectives and the best way to begin using them today!

Master using Italian adjectives like a real expert!

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You’ll soon be an expert when using Italian adjectives like “buonissima” to describe how delicious your pizza is with Busuu’s free online lessons and exercises. Try them all today!

How do Italian adjectives work?

Let’s start with the basics: Italian adjectives agree with their nouns. That means they will match with the noun they modify in gender and number.

First, note whether a noun is singular or plural and masculine or feminine. The easiest way to do that is to look at the noun’s ending.

  • If a noun ends in -o, it’s usually masculine and singular
  • If a noun ends in -i, it’s usually masculine and plural
  • If a noun ends in -a, it’s usually feminine and singular
  • If a noun ends in -e, it’s usually feminine and plural

Note: There are exceptions to this rule. Some nouns end in -o_ but are feminine (such asla foto). Some nouns end in -a but are masculine (such as il poeta). Many nouns ending in -e or -ante, -ente, or -ista don’t distinguish between masculine or feminine. In that case, you have to look at the article. _

Here are some examples in the chart below to break this all down:

-O Adjectives

Form Masculine Feminine
Singular -o -a
Plural -i -e
Singular l’amico allegro la pizza italiana
Plural gli amici allegri le pizze italiane

Just like nouns, adjectives ending in -o have four forms, and they’ll correspond with gender and number. Most Italian adjectives end with -o.

-E Adjectives

Adjectives that end in -e won’t change when they refer to a masculine or feminine singular noun. They’ll keep that -e ending. But in the plural, the -e ending becomes -i, no matter whether the noun is masculine or feminine.

How to make Italian adjectives ending in -e

Singular Plural
il ragazzo forte i ragazzi forti
la ragazza forte le ragazze forti

Some examples of Italian adjectives that end in -e are:

  • Dolce (sweet)
  • Grande (big, large)
  • Felice (happy)
  • Forte (strong)
  • Divertente (fun)
  • Interessante (interesting)
  • Triste (sad)

Pro-tip: If you have two nouns of different gender, the adjective will follow the masculine ending. For example: i ragazzi e le ragazze italiani (Italian boys and girls).

Irregular adjectives you should know

Just to make things more interesting, there are four common adjectives which are a little different from other Italian adjectives. They are: bello (beautiful), buono (good, well), grande (big, large), and santo (holy).

These adjectives are unique because when they are placed before a noun, they follow the same rule as the definite articles, il, lo, i, gli, la and le. (You can brush up on these with our guide to Italian definite articles.) That is to say, they will change their forms depending on the letter that follows them.

These adjectives even have their own unique articles: dei for masculine and delle for feminine.

1. Bello

Here’s the breakdown for our first irregular adjective.


Placement Masculine Singular Feminine singular Masculine plural Feminine Plural
Comes before the noun bel bella bei belle
Comes after the noun bello bella belli belle

Let’s look at examples of how this works in a phrase:

  • Un bel giorno (A beautiful day) – il giorno
  • I bei padri (The handsome fathers) – i padri
  • Le belle ragazze (The beautiful girls) – le ragazze

Here’s a quick way to make this all easier: Bello acts the same as the Italian definite articles il / lo / la /l’ / l’. So, if a singular noun (masculine or feminine) starts with a vowel, we’ll use bell’ before it.

  • Un bell’albero (A beautiful tree)

If a masculine singular noun begins with a z or s + consonant (or any time you would use the lo article), use bello in front of it.

  • Un bello zaino (A beautiful backpack) – lo zaino

In the case of masculine plural nouns that begin with a vowel, z or s + consonant, you’ll use begli.

  • I begli sbagli (The beautiful mistakes) – gli sbagli
  • I begli alberi (The beautiful trees) – gli alberi

Keep in mind this irregularity won’t apply if you place the adjective bello after the noun. It will remain in its normal form. For example: una donna bella (a beautiful woman).

2. Buono

Buono (good) follows the same rule as the Italian indefinite articles un / uno and un’ / una. Depending on the noun it’s modifying, it’ll be shortened:

  • Un buon uomo (A good man) – un uomo
  • Una buona casa (A good school) – una casa
  • Una buon’arancia (A good orange) – un’arancia

But buono isn’t shortened in front of nouns that begin with a z or s + consonant, or in front of plural nouns.

  • Un buono studente (A good student) – uno studente
  • Dei buoni stivali (Some good boots) – gli stivali
  • Dei buoni zaini (Some good backpacks) – gli zaini
  • Le buone arance (The good oranges) – le arance

Just as with bello, this irregular adjectives rule won’t apply if you place the adjective buono after the noun. For example: un uomo buono.

3. Grande and santo

The adjective grande (big, large) is shortened to gran when it’s before a singular masculine noun starting with a consonant (except when the consonant is z or s + consonant).

  • Un gran numero di cani (A large number of dogs)
  • Un gran palazzo (A big palace)
  • Un grande scudo (A big shield)

Likewise, santo (holy, saint) becomes san when it’s before a singular noun starting with a consonant (except when the consonant is z or s + consonant).

  • Lui è San Pio da Pietrelcina (He is Saint Pio of Pietrelcina).
    Santo Stefano

Whew! Irregular adjectives are a lot to remember, but it’ll get easier with practice. Let’s move onto putting our shiny new adjectives into a sentence.

Placement of Italian adjectives

In English, adjectives almost always come before the noun. For example: a rich friend, a happy dog, a clean home.

In Italian, adjectives generally go after the noun. So, instead, you’d say: un amico ricco, un cane felice, or una casa pulita.

Sometimes you can play around with this. When we place an adjective after a noun, it can make the meaning more literal, while putting it before the noun can make the sentence more metaphorical and figurative.

For example, when grande (large, big) comes before a noun, it takes on a meaning closer to “great”. An example is un grand’uomo, which would mean “a great man” versus un uomo grande, which means, more literally, “a big man”.

To be or not to be: Using Italian adjectives in a sentence

One of the most common uses of Italian adjectives is when they’re paired with the verb essere (to be).

  • Il mio gatto è buono (My cat is nice).
  • I fiori sono belli (The flowers are beautiful).
  • Maria e io siamo giovani (Maria and I are young).

Learn other types of Italian adjectives today!

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Uncover more demonstrative adjectives like “quel” (or “that) with lessons from Busuu’s free online Italian courses and exercises!

Demonstrative, indefinite, and possessive Italian adjectives

These adjectives will almost always come before the noun.

Demonstrative adjectives are words we use to point to specific things, people, etc. In English, we say “this,” “that,” “those,” and “these.” Here they are in Italian:

Italian demonstrative adjectives

English Masculine (Singular) Masculine (Plural) Feminine (Single) Feminine (Plural)
This / these Questo / quest’ Questi Questa / quest’ Queste
That / those Quello / quell’ / quel Quegli / quei Quella / quell’ Quelle
That/those Quello, quell’, quel Quegli/quei Quella/quell’ quelle

Indefinite adjectives are adjectives we use when we’re describing quantity but we aren’t being too specific about the exact number. These will also match the gender and number of the nouns they’re referring to.

Here are some examples:

  • Alcuni / Alcune (some) - always plural
  • Poco (little, few)
  • Molto (many)
  • Ogni (each, every) – this one won’t change and it’s always singular
  • Qualche (some, a few) – this one won’t change and is always singular

Possessive adjectives show ownership so we know who or what something belongs to. For instance, in English, we’d say “my cat” or “his house”. In Italian, we would say il mio gatto or la sua casa. Check out our guide to Italian possessive adjectives to learn more.

85 Italian adjectives to learn right now

Let’s get to some more common Italian adjectives! Here’s our list of the top adjectives in Italian you’ll want to know. We recommend trying to memorize these adjectives as pairs of opposites.

Italian adjectives of value or quality

  1. Buono – good
  2. Bravo - good
  3. Cattivo – bad
  4. Bello – beautiful
  5. Brutto – ugly, bad
  6. Fantastico – fantastic
  7. Orribile – horrible

Adjectives of personality, style or character

  1. Ricco – rich
  2. Povero – poor
  3. Gentile – kind, nice
  4. Sensibile – sensitive
  5. Divertente – fun
  6. Comico – funny
  7. Felice – happy
  8. Contento – glad, pleased
  9. Triste – sad
  10. Arrabbiato – angry
  11. Solo – alone, lonely
  12. Interessante – interesting
  13. Noioso – boring
  14. Rapido – fast
  15. Veloce - speedy
  16. Lento – slow
  17. Facile – easy
  18. Difficile – difficult
  19. Importante – important
  20. Inutile – useless
  21. Abituato – accustomed, used to
  22. Disponibile – available
  23. Giovane – young
  24. Vecchio – old

Describing physical traits in Italian

  1. Alto – tall
  2. Basso - short
  3. Malato – sick
  4. Sano, in forma – healthy or in-shape
  5. Ordinato – neat, clean
  6. Disordinato – messy
  7. Grasso – fat
  8. Magro - thin
  9. Abbronzato – tanned
  10. Stretto – narrow
  11. Largo - wide

Adjectives of senses

  1. Morbido – soft
  2. Duro – hard
  3. Liscio – smooth
  4. Ruvido – rough
  5. Doloroso – painful
  6. Affamato – hungry
  7. Pieno – full

Adjectives of taste

  1. Buono - good
  2. Delizioso - delicious
  3. Saporito - savory
  4. Gustoso - tasty
  5. Dolce - sweet
  6. Salato – salty
  7. Aspro – sour, as in a lemon
  8. Acerbo – sour or unripe
  9. Acido – acidic or sour, like yogurt
  10. Amaro – bitter or unsweetened
  11. Piccante – spicy
  12. Pepato - peppery

Adjectives of color

  1. Rosso – red
  2. Verde – green
  3. Bianco – white
  4. Nero – black
  5. Giallo – yellow
  6. Marrone – brown
  7. Arancione – orange
  8. Rosa – pink
  9. Viola – purple
  10. Blu – blue

Some colors are invariable, like rosa, viola and blu, so they won’t ever change according to their noun.

Adjectives of shapes

  1. Rotondo – round
  2. Circolare – circular
  3. Quadrato – square
  4. Rettangolare – rectangular
  5. Sferico – spherical

Adjectives describing weather and temperature

  1. Caldo – hot
  2. Freddo – cold
  3. Soleggiato – sunny
  4. Nuvoloso – cloudy
  5. Umido – humid
  6. Afoso - muggy
  7. Piovoso – rainy
  8. Nevoso – snowy
  9. Ventoso – windy

We know that was a lot—but the best way to internalize adjectives is through practicing with other Italian speakers.

The learning doesn’t stop here! We at Busuu can help you keep going, so you can level up your Italian skills and put them into practice with native speakers.

Mamma mia! You’ve got the basics of Italian adjectives.

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