To find out if my foreign students can level up from beginners to intermediate, I check if they can use naturally the adjective “bello”, a word that Italians use with ease but it is tough if you are used to say just “pretty”, “nice” or “beautiful”.
We talked about the position of Italian adjectives in a sentence. Read the post if you want to know all details. To cut a long story short:
Normally, Italian adjectives come after a noun:
- Ho una penna rossa and not Ho una
rossapenna. We can’t put rossa before penna.
Some adjectives can be put before and after a noun, changing the value of the noun itself:
- Leonardo Di Caprio è un attore bravissimo. The aggettivo describes the noun attore
- Leonardo Di Caprio è un bravissimo attore. The aggettivo describes the noun as before, but it becomes more important than the noun itself.
The adjective bello belongs to this second category. We can put it before or after the noun.
If we put it after the noun, it acts as a normal aggettivo, changing as singular or plural, masculine or feminine.
- Il bambino è bello – sm
- La bambina è bella – sf
- I bambini sono belli – pm
- Le bambine sono belle – pf
If we put it before the noun, it changes quite radically and instead of agreeing with number and gender, it combines with definite articles IL – LO – LA – I – GLI – LE – L’. It’s worth mentioning again the rules of definite articles, in particular masculine:
- l’ comes before masculine words beginning with a vowel;
- lo comes before masculine words starting with z, gn, ps, s + consonant;
- il is the most common, used in all other cases;
- i is the plural of il;
- gli is the plural of l’ and lo;
So bello changes accordingly.
Bello –> lo
Bell’ –> l’
Begli –> gli
Begli –> gli
The rule is valid for feminine nouns, but we really don’t see any difference if we put bella or belle before or after the noun. So don’t worry about that. Focus on masculine nouns.
- Michele ha un bel gatto
- La città di Roma ha un bello stadio
- Davanti a casa mia c’è un bell’albero
- Nel mio giardino ci sono dei bei fiori
- Allo zoo ho visto dei begli animali
It comes pretty natural to Italians to use bello correctly. If you manage to use it well too, it means you are on the right way to learn Italian. Book a free trial lesson for more!