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How Adjectives Work in Italian Part 2

 
As we mentioned in part one, the first thing we need to consider about adjectives is: Which type of adjective is it? Positive or neutral?

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We said that there are two basic types: aggettivi positivi (positive adjectives) that end in o in their masculine singular form, and aggettivi neutri (neutral adjectives) that end in in their masculine (and feminine) singular form. When you look up an adjective in the dictionary you will see the singular, masculine form of the adjective.
 
This lesson will discuss the second type of adjective: the aggettivo neutro (neutral adjective). Neutral adjectives only change according to number (singular or plural). They do not change according to gender. To refresh your memory about positive adjectives, those ending in "o," see the first part of this lesson
 
Adjectives that end in "e" are trickier in one sense, but easier in another. Indeed, with adjectives that end in "e" we don't have to concern ourselves with gender, just number. We have only two types of endings: one for the singular (e), and one for the plural (i).
 
Masculine/feminine + singular = e.
 
Il mare è grande (the sea is big).
La casa è grande (the house is big).

 

Il talento è un dono enorme. Il talento è... è un dovere morale coltivarlo.

Talent is an enormous gift. Talent is... it's a moral duty to cultivate it.

Captions 75-76, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1

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Piazza del Popolo è una piazza molto importante di Roma.

Piazza del Popolo is a very important square of Rome.

Caption 1, Anna presenta - Piazza del Popolo

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Masculine/feminine + plural = i.
 
I ragazzi sono tristi. (the boys are sad).
Le ragazze sono tristi. (the girls are sad).
 

...e che invece adesso è una delle parti più eleganti,

...and which now though, is one of the most elegant,

più signorili della capitale, dove ci sono le case più belle.

most exclusive parts of the capital, where there are the most beautiful houses.

Captions 4-5, Anna presenta - il ghetto ebraico e piazza mattei

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What are some other common Italian adjectives ending in "e?"
 
forte (strong, loud)
verde (green)
giovane (young)
triste (sad)
intelligente (intelligent)
gentile (nice)
semplice (easy, simple)
facile (easy)
felice (happy)
importante (important)
interessante (interesting)
dolce (sweet)
normale (normal)
pesante (heavy)
naturale (natural)
elegante (elegant)
 
Some learners and non-native speakers have trouble using the common Italian adjectives in this second group, especially when using the plural. These need a bit more practice and consideration. The good news is that some of these common adjectives are similar to their English counterparts and therefore easy to guess the meaning of, for instance, interessanteelegante, normale, and intelligente.
 
Practically speaking:
 
You can now take the common adjectives in the list and apply them to any nouns you can think of. The following examples will get you started. Remember to use both singular and plural nouns, and make sure to say your examples ad alta voce (out loud).
 
Il bambino è felice, triste, dolce, intelligente, forte, etc.
La bambina è felice, triste, dolce, intelligente, etc.
I bambini sono tristi, dolci, intelligenti, etc.
Le bambine sono tristi, dolci, intelligenti, etc.
Il libro (the book) è interessante, facile, elegante, triste, etc.
I libri sono interessanti, facili, eleganti, tristi, etc.
La serata (the evening out) è stata elegante, pesante, interessante, etc.
Le serate sono state eleganti, pesanti, interessanti, etc.
La lezione (the lesson) era interessante, pesante, importante, etc.
Le lezioni erano interessanti, pesanti, importanti, etc.
 
Exceptions: We also come across plenty of exceptions regarding endings and gender. For example, il pane (the bread) is masculine but ends in "e." Feminine nouns, on the other hand, often end in but not always. La mente (the mind) is feminine but ends in e. These kinds of nouns should probably get memorized, but the good news is that there are a great many nouns that are predictable and as a result, their adjectives are predictable, too.
 
Nouns and adjectives go together like salt and pepper, so this might be a great time to review nouns and their genders. Being sure of the gender of a noun will help you make the right decision regarding the adjective ending. Marika gives us some categories that makes gender learning a bit easier.
 

Marika spiega - Il genere maschile

Marika spiega - Il genere femminile

 
Take advantage of Yabla's features:
 
Interactive Subtitles:
By switching the dual subtitles on and off while viewing, you can really make them work for you. In other words, sometimes you need to understand what's happening, so you want to see captions in your own language. However, there will be times when you want to test your limits, to have fun trying to understand the Italian, with no safety net. Still other times, you will want to work on your spelling or adjective endings, and in this case, following along with the original language subtitles will be an invaluable tool.
 
Exercises:
With each video, there are exercises to help reinforce the material in the video itself. In short, by doing the vocabulary reviews and other listening exercises, including the patented dictation exercise called Scribe, you will really nail it.
 
Search:
In the videos tab, you can do a search of a word and see where it appears in the various videos in context, resulting in an immediate idea of how the word is used in everyday speech. As applied to this article about common Italian adjectives, it can be extremely helpful to see those adjectives in context! Subscribers have access to all of the videos as well as the transcripts and all the associated exercises.

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Making Connections with Appunto (Indeed)

Appunto is a word Italians use all the time in speech. It officially translates as “indeed,” or “exactly,” but often means, “like I was saying,” “more precisely,” or “as already stated.” The important thing to remember is that its function is to refer back to something that's already been mentioned. We could say it points to a word or an idea in order to call your attention to the fact that we’re already on the subject. It confirms a connection. 

For starters, let’s see how appunto is used by itself, to mean something like, “that’s exactly what I’m talking about!”: 

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Lara’s aunt, in an episode of Commissario Manara, is helping out with the investigation in her own neighborly way. She suspects an acquaintance of hiding something, so she sets a trap for him to tell her more. If, as he says, “these things are difficult to forget,” then he can’t say he doesn’t recall! Appunto! One word says it all!

 

Se lo ricorda, vero? Altro che! Sono cose queste che si fa fatica a scordare.

-Ehm, appunto.

You remember, right? Do I ever! These are things that are difficult to forget.

-Um, precisely.

Captions 50-53, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

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Many Italians use appunto liberally, often making it difficult to find an English equivalent, and appunto (indeed), sometimes there is no equivalent without using many more words.

In the following video, Anna is explaining the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, so her use of appunto is a means of linking the Jewish Ghetto to the Jews being confined there.

 

Qui siamo a Roma, nel quartiere del Ghetto Ebraico, che è appunto la zona di Roma dove durante la seconda guerra mondiale venivano confinate le persone appunto ebree.

Here we're in Rome, in the quarter of the Jewish Ghetto that is, to be precise an area of Rome where during World War II the Jewish people, as the name implies, were confined.

Captions 1-3, Anna presenta - il ghetto ebraico e piazza mattei

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Although there is no quick translation for the second appunto in this sentence, the important thing to know is that Anna is using it to make sure we get the connection.

Sometimes you have to search out the “missing” link. Gualtiero Marchesi is musing about his career, and starts out talking about developing a passion for his work:

 

Quando ho incominciato ad appassionarmi veramente a quello che facevo...

When I started becoming really passionate about what I did...

Caption 43, L'arte della cucina - Terre d'Acqua - Part 10

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A bit later he’s still referring to the passione mentioned a few lines back, so he uses appunto to remind us.

 

Poi quando, appunto, è subentrata la passione, ero curioso, come sempre...

Then when, like I was saying, passion entered in, I was curious, as always...

Caption 47, L'arte della cucina - Terre d'Acqua - Part 10

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Francesca takes us with her to a ski lodge in the mountains. Since her subject is “going to the mountains,” she uses appunto when telling us where chalets can be found, as if to imply that it’s clearly obvious, but she’ll say it anyway.

 

Eccoci arrivati alla baita. La baita è un luogo che si trova, appunto, in montagna dove ci si va per rifugiarsi dal freddo.

Here we are, we've arrived at the chalet. The chalet is a place you find, logically, in the mountains, where you go to seek refuge from the cold.

Captions 25-27, Francesca neve - Part 1

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If you do a search in Yabla, you’ll see just how often and in how many ways appunto is used. You may be baffled in many cases. Pinning down a precise meaning is tricky business, but with time, you’ll see it’s actually quite a useful way to make connections with just one word, when in English, you’d need many. The WordReference forum can give you more examples and explanations.

Attenzione! The adverb, appunto is not to be confused with the noun appunto (note, criticism).

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Learning suggestion: Don’t worry too much about actually trying to use appunto, especially if you’re a beginner. For now, just check out how it’s used in the Yabla videos and be aware of why it’s there: to make connections.

Vocabulary

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