Buono o Bello? Posted by Serena on Nov 6, 2008 in Grammar
Good or nice? These two adjectives, together with a couple more, have a very strange habit when they precede a noun. Lets look at them! But before doing so you may want to have a look at the articolo indeterminativo (indefinite article) and articolo determinativo (definite article) that I summarized in my previous post “Articles, articles, articles”. OK! Are you ready?
Buono/a follows the rules of the indefinite article un/uno/una before a singular noun: buon giorno (good day), buon anno (happy new year), buono studio (good study), buona vacanza (good holiday). The plural form is regular: buoni for the masculine and buone for the feminine.
Bello follows the rules of the definite article when placed before a noun: il bel quadro (the nice painting), il bello specchio (the nice mirror), il bello zoo (the nice zoo), il bell’orologio (the nice watch), la bella macchina (the nice car), la bell’arancia (the nice orange). The same rule applies in the plural: i bei quadri, i begli zoo, i begli orologi, le belle macchine, le belle arance. When bello follows the noun, it behaves regularly: bello, bella, belli, belle.
Two more adjectives behave like bello: quello (that, those) and dello (some).
Having explained how to use these adjectives I would now like to write a little on when to use them:
Buono is used to express a positive opinion of personal qualities: un uomo buono (a good man), un buon film (a good film, because it deals well with a difficult theme). Buono is also used to describe flavors and smells: una buona pizza (a good pizza), un buon profumo (a nice smell). Finally buono is used to express good wishes: buon viaggio! (have a good journey), buona vacanza! (have a nice holiday).
Bello is used to express a positive opinion of the formal, aesthetic aspect: un bell’uomo (a good-looking man), un bel film (a good film because it’s enjoyable), fa bel tempo (the weather is nice).
There are two more words that often create some confusion: bravo and bene.
Bravo is an adjective expressing positive qualities and is used only with human beings and animals, not objects: un bravo ragazzo (a well behaved boy). Bravo is also used to say that you are good at something: sono brava a cucinare (I’m good at cooking). N.B. bravo is an adjective, so it changes from masculine to feminine, from singular to plural: bravo, brava, bravi, brave. Show off your knowledge of Italian next time you go to a concert, and shout “brava” to a female performer, or “bravi” if it’s a group!
Bene is an adverb, therefore does not change and is used with verbs to express a positive opinion: canta bene (he/she sings well), sto bene (I’m well). Bene is also commonly used to say “it’s a good thing”: è bene imparare l’italiano (it’s a good thing to learn Italian).
I hope I haven’t confused you too much!
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