Italian Demonstrative Pronouns And Adjectives (With Examples)
- Giulietta GiordanoItalian linguist and tutor🎓 B.A., Western Languages - French and Italian, Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia🎓 M.A., International Relations and Languages, Bologna University
Full-time Italian teacher, tutor (online) and occasional writer.
In Italian (like other Romance languages), demonstratives are used to denote specificity and proximity.
They correspond to the English words “this”, “that” and “those”, respectively.
Italian demonstratives can be used as either pronouns (e.g. “this is good”) or as adjectives (e.g. “this book is good”).
I’ll explain how to use them both ways below.
Italian demonstratives at a glance
Here are the Italian demonstratives in their different forms:
|Masculine (Singular)||Feminine (Singular)||Masculine (Plural)||Feminine (Plural)|
As you can see, with the exception of ciò (explained below), the demonstratives have que as their base, so they’re easy to recognize.
You just apply the appropriate suffix (o, a, i or e) according to gender and number.
What about ciò?
It’s better to think of ciò as “the thing” or “what”, referring to abstract things/concepts or something that was previously mentioned.
Ciò is still a demonstrative but it’s much more versatile in its usage.
It’s easier to demonstrate this with some examples:
Non mi piace ciò che hai detto.
Ciò che voglio è una vita semplice.
This word isn’t inflected for gender/number, so you only need to memorize ciò.
Italian demonstrative pronouns vs adjectives
Firstly, just remember that demonstratives are the same words, whether they are used as pronouns or adjectives.
The only thing that changes is their grammatical function in the sentence.
- Demonstrative pronouns stand alone as the subject.
- Demonstrative adjectives modify the subject.
Allow me to demonstrate using examples.
Questa borsa è rossa.
Questa modifies the noun borsa and indicates that the bag is close in proximity to the speaker.
Quella casa è grande.
In this example, quella modifies the noun casa and indicates that the house is far away from the speaker.
Questa è la mia borsa.
Here questa is a pronoun, referring to borsa (close in proximity).
Quella è la casa dei miei nonni.
Quella is a pronoun here referencing casa and indicates that it’s far from the speaker.
NOTE: In all these examples, the inflection doesn’t change if the demonstrative is the subject, object or otherwise.
In other words, “that house is mine” and “I visit that house” use the exact same demonstrative:
- Quella casa è mia.
- Visito quella casa.
As you can see, in both of these sentences (where one is the subject and one is the object), quella casa (that house) is identical.
Italian demonstratives are a cinch to get a handle on
Hopefully that clarifies demonstratives in Italian for you.
It’s probably one of the easiest topics in any Italian course, but the difference between pronouns and adjectives often confuses learners.
Now you know. 😉
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