Using the Italian adjectives BELLO & QUELLO

Everybody knows that quello means ‘that’ and bello means ‘nice or beautiful,’ however now and then you might have read or listened to the forms ‘quegli/begli’, quei/bei, quel/bel.

How come?

Let’s start from quello

You should be able to distinguish when quello is used as a pronoun (replacing a noun) and when used as adjective (accompanying a name).

In the first case quello has four different possible endings, -o/-a/-i/e, according to the noun to which they refer

  • Quello è il mio gatto – That one is my cat
  • Quelle sono le mie amiche – those are my girlfriends

In the second case, when quello is an adjective it changes endings with the same patterns as in the definite articles, depending on the nouns following..

  • Quei ragazzi
  • Quegli amici
  • Quell’uomo
  • Queragazzo
  • Quella donna
  • Quelle ragazze

The adjective bello also follows the pattern of the demonstrative quello

  • Bei ragazzi
  • Begli amici
  • Bell’uomo
  • Bel ragazzo
  • Bella donna
  • Belle donne

To apply the above rule, both quello and bello must be positioned before the noun; they must be adjectives to the noun.