Gran or grande? Adjectives that change before nouns

Some adjectives can change when they are placed before certain nouns.

Un gioco bello → Un bel gioco

A beautiful game

Adjectives that change before masculine or feminine nouns:

  • Grande generally becomes gran before nouns that start with a consonant and means something different depending on whether it comes before or after the noun.

Una gran persona (una persona con delle grandi qualità)

A great person (a person with great qualities)

Una persona grande (una persona alta, imponente)

A tall person

Adjectives that only change before masculine nouns:

  • Bello (beautiful, handsome) and quello (that) become bel and quel before masculine nouns that start with most consonants and bell’, quell’ and sant’ before masculine and feminine nouns that start with a vowel.

Un giovane bello → Un bel giovane

A handsome young man

Un uomo bello → Un bell’uomo

A handsome man

Quel cane / Quell’armadio

That dog / That closet

  • Alcuno (some, any), buono (good), ciascuno (each) and nessuno (none, any, no-one) become alcun, buon, ciascun and nessun before masculine nouns that start with either a consonant or a vowel

Alcun libro

Any book, some book

Un buon compagno

A good companion

Nessun amico

No friend(s)


  • Grande (great, large), bello (beautiful, handsome), buono (good) and quello (that) do not change before nouns that start with s + consonant, z, x, gn or ps.

Un bello scorcio → Un bel sogno

A beautiful glimpse → A beautiful dream

Un grande scatolone → Un gran aiuto

A large can → A great help

  • The adverb bene (good, well), which is equivalent to the adjective buono (good), changes if it comes before a past participle.

È fatto bene → È ben fatto

It's well done

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