What are “parole alterate”: Italian grammar lesson 243


Dive into the charming world of Italian language nuances with parole alterate! Learn how suffixes can spice up your vocab, turning a simple ‘cat’ into a ‘big cat’ or a ‘cute little cat’. Master the art of expressing size, affection, and even disdain with ease.

  • Accrescitivi are your go-to when you want to talk about something that’s larger than life. Just slap on a ‘-one’ and watch that cat turn into a gattone – a big cat that’s probably ruling the roost. 😼
  • Feeling affectionate? Diminutivi are here to help you coo over tiny things. Add ‘-ino’ and transform a table into a tavolino, perfect for your espresso. ☕️
  • When you want to squeeze those cheeks with words, Vezzeggiativi like ‘-uccio’ will make anything sound adorable. A small and cute house isn’t just a house; it’s a casuccia. 🏡
  • Not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Use Dispregiativi like ‘-accio’ to show your displeasure. A bad smell isn’t just bad; it’s an odoraccio. 🤢
  • Remember, these suffixes aren’t one-size-fits-all. They change depending on the gender and number of the noun or adjective, so keep your Italian grammar hat on! 🎩

My thoughts

What are parole alterate in Italian?

One of the great things about Italian is that you can express yourself in many different ways.

Sometimes this is possible by just changing the ending of a word a tiny bit.

Think of the word bello (nice) and bellissimo (very nice).

Now, let’s get to the point.

You might have heard the concept of parole alterate but you might not know what they are and that’s why you’re here.

For you to understand, let’s have a look at an example of a parola alterata in English: mommy (instead of mom).

Well, parole alterate has something to do with Italian suffixes that change the meaning of words.

A suffix is added at the end of a word to form a derivative, like -tion-ity-ment in the words connection, activity, and argument.

Here are some examples of parole alterate in Italian:

  • Festa (party): festicciola (small party)
  • Odore (smell): odoraccio (bad smell)
  • Mamma (mom): mammina (mommy)

These alterations are very powerful, as you can use them to better express yourself, but you have to know how to first.

Let’s find out!

How to use parole alterate?

Parole alterate means “altered words” in English. In other words, when we talk about a parola alterata we refer to noun or adjective alteration.

An alteration happens when the suffix of a noun or adjective changes but its root remains the same. By doing so, we slightly change the meaning of the word to a different meaning depending on the added suffix.

This nuance of meaning is given by the opinion that the speaker has towards what they’re referring to.

Also, you have to remember that suffixes change depending on the gender and number of the noun or adjective.

In Italian, there are four types of parole alterate:

  1. Accrescitivi (augmentative)
  2. Diminutivi (diminutive)
  3. Vezzeggiativi (expressing affection)
  4. Dispregiativi or spregiativi (derogatory)

Let’s take the word gatto (cat) as an example and see how to form parole alterate from it:

  • accrescitivo: gattone (big gat)
  • diminutivo and vezzeggiativo: gattino (small and cute cat)
  • peggiorativo: gattaccio (bad cat)

Don’t worry if this looks confusing for now.

We’ll show you some more examples for you to understand better.

How to use Italian accrescitivi?

We use accrescitivi to describe something bigger than usual.

These are common accrescitivi suffixes:

  • one is the most common one.


Big lazy person.


Big gluttonous girl.


Big book.

  • accione


Big man.

  • acchione


Someone very cunning.

How to use Italian diminutivi?

We use the diminutive alteration to describe something smaller than usual.

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These are some diminutive endings:

  • ino is the most common one.


Small dog.


Small girl.


Small table.

  • -etto


Small house.


Small sip.

  • -ello or -ella


Small donkey.

  • -icino


Small book.

How to use Italian vezzeggiativi?

We use vezzeggiativi when we want to describe something that looks lovely, cute, and small.

So, it’s similar to diminutivi.

  • -uccio


Small and cute house.


Hot in a cute way.


Cute and small Marta.

  • -acchiotto


Small and cute bear (like a teddy bear).


Small and cute wolf.

  • -olo


Small and cute son.

  • -etto or -etta


Small and cute man.

How to use Italian Dispregiativi?

Last but not least, we use dispregiativi to point out the bad aspects of something. Dispregiativo means derogatory or pejorative.

  • -accio


Bad girl.


Bad guy.


Bad days

  • -iciattolo or -iciattola


Bad monsters.

  • -astro


Bad young person.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Parole alterate: examples

Let’s now have a look at some examples:

Che giornataccia!

What a bad day!

Che villona!

What a big house!

Ho comprato del prosciutto ma aveva un saporaccio e l’ho buttato.

I bought some ham but it didn’t taste good so I threw it away.

Che odorino! Da dove viene?

What a good smell! Where is it coming from?

Guarda cos’hanno combinato quei ragazzacci!

Look what those bad guys did!

As you can see from the examples, altered words are fairly easy to use and are also very helpful.

What are Italian "parole alterate"?

Italian "parole alterate," or altered words, are words that have been modified by adding or changing suffixes to create new meanings. They can express affection, diminution, augmentation, or other nuances. Some common types of "parole alterate" include diminutives, augmentatives, and endearments.

How do I form diminutives in Italian?

To form diminutives in Italian, modify the base word by adding a suffix, such as "-ino," "-etto," or "-ello." These suffixes create a sense of smallness or affection. For example: "casa" (house) becomes "casina" (little house), and "ragazzo" (boy) becomes "ragazzino" (little boy).

Can "parole alterate" be used with both nouns and adjectives in Italian?

Yes, "parole alterate" can be used with both nouns and adjectives in Italian. By adding appropriate suffixes to nouns or adjectives, you can create new words with altered meanings or convey different emotions. For example, "piccolo" (small) can become "piccolino" (very small) or "piccoletto" (cute little).

Italian word of the day
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Do you feel like going for a walk?
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