Italian Demonstrative Adjectives

Aggettivi Dimostrativi in Italian

Way sign "This Way, That Way"
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Italian demonstrative adjectives indicate closeness, or distance in space or time, of beings or objects with respect to the speaker or listener, or both. The main Italian demonstrative adjectives are questo, codesto, and quello, which vary in gender and number. For comparison, in English there are four demonstrative adjectives: this, that, these, and those.

Questo

Questo is used to indicate beings or things close to the speaker:

  • Questo vestito è elegante. > This dress is elegant.
  • Questa lettera è per Maria. > This letter is for Mary.

The aphaeretic forms of questo are 'sto, 'sta, 'sti and 'ste (aphaeresis, in linguistic terms, refers to the loss of one or more sounds from the beginning of a word, especially the loss of an unstressed vowel). These forms have long been popular among Italian speakers, but for the most part only in spoken language.

Condesto

Codesto indicates beings or things close to the listener; the term is in disuse, though, and is usually replaced by quello:

  • Consegna codesto regalo che porti con te. > Deliver that gift that you are carrying.
  • Allora leggiamolo codesto bigliettino. Cosa tergiversa? > So then, let's read that note. Why beat around the bush?

NOTE: codesto (and less frequently cotesto) is still used in the Tuscan dialect and in commercial and bureaucratic language.

  • Pertanto richiedo a codesto istituto… > I therefore request this institute...

    Quello

    Quello indicates beings or things far from the speaker and the listener:

    • Quello scolaro è studioso. > That student is studious.
    • Quel ragazzo alto è mio cugino. > That tall boy is my cousin.
    • Quei bambini giocano. > Those kids are playing.
    • Quegli artisti sono celebri. > Those artists are famous.

    Quello follows the rules of the definite article:

    • lo scolaro—quello scolaro
    • gli artisti—quegli artisti
    • i bambini—quei bambini

    NOTE: always apostrophize before a vowel:

    • quell'uomo > that man
    • quell'attore > that actor

    Quel is the truncated form of quello:

    • quel giorno > that day
    • quel quadro > that picture

    Other Demonstrative Adjectives: Stesso, Medesimo, and Tale

    Stesso and medesimo indicate identity:

    • Prenderemo lo stesso treno. > We will take the same train.
    • Soggiorniamo nel medesimo albergo. > We are staying in the same hotel.

    NOTE: stesso and medesimo are sometimes used to emphasize the name to which they refer and mean perfino (even) or "the person himself":

    • Il ministro stesso diede l'annuncio. > The minister himself made the announcement.
    • Io stesso (perfino io) sono rimasto sorpreso. > I myself (even I) was surprised.
    • L'allenatore stesso (l'allenatore in persona) si è congratulato con me. > The coach himself (the coach in person) congratulated me.

    NOTE: stesso is sometimes used for emphasis:

    • Il ministro stesso diede l'annuncio. > The minister himself made the announcement.

    Tale can also be classified as an aggettivo dimostrativo when used to convey the sense of così grande or così importante:

    • No ho mai detto tali (queste o quelle) cose. > No, I never said such things.
    • Tali (così grandi) errori sono inaccettabili. > These mistakes are unacceptable.
    • Tale (simile) atteggiamento è riprovevole. > This behavior is reprehensible.

    Italian Demonstrative Adjectives Reference Table

    Aggettivi Dimostrativi in Italiano

    MASCHILEFEMMINILE
    SingolarePluraleSingolarePlurale
    questoquestiquestaqueste
    codestocodesticodestacodeste
    quello, quelquelli, quegli, queiquellaquelle
    stessostessistessastesse
    medesimomedesimimedesimamedesime
    (tale)(tali)(tale)(tali)