In our last lesson we talked about how to modify your adjectives (describing words) so that they match the things you're describing.
In English, we generally put the adjective before the thing we're describing. (The furry cat.) In Italian, you do the opposite. You generally put the adjective after the thing you're describing: (I gatti pelosi.)
Take a look at these examples from Riccioli d’oro e i tre orsi:
In all of these sentences the adjective immediately follows the word it’s describing. This rule applies to most adjectives… except when it doesn’t.
Don't worry! Only a small set of adjectives can go before the noun. The most common adjectives to show up in front of nouns are…
These adjectives are special because they can appear BOTH before and after a noun. But there's a very good reason for this, and it's quite similar to what we do in English.
See how changing the location of the adjective also changes its meaning? The same thing happens in Italian.
When you place one of those special adjectives before the word it describes, you’re also changing its meaning in a pretty significant way.
An adjective that goes after a noun is adding new information. If it goes before the noun, it's describing an inherent quality or trait.
Take a look at how some special adjectives change meaning when they’re put in a different position:
Now let’s see them in action in these examples below! (It’s where the real magic happens.)
Pretty neat, right?
Remember that most of the time, the adjective will go after a noun. There are only a few adjectives that can go before a noun. (They're listed above.)
Learn them. Remember them. That way you'll never accidentally insult your best buddy by calling him your "elderly friend".