Italian Language/use of

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QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Can you please tell me if the adjective “alto”  (high, tall) should always be placed after the noun as in the following sentence:  “L’uomo alto porta una cravatta.”  (The tall man is wearing a tie.)

I was wondering if it would also be correct to say:
L’alto uomo porta una cravatta”  (The tall man is wearing a tie)

Thank you


Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich,

in the sentence  “L’uomo alto porta una cravatta”  the adjective “alto” must always be placed after the noun “uomo” as it seems that such a phrase belongs to a context where somebody is saying that the  one that is wearing a tie is the tall man as opposed to a short man.

Therefore “L’alto uomo porta una cravatta” is not acceptable at all, even because we place “alto” before a noun  in sentences like e.g. “Appartiene all’alta società” (He belongs to the  high society), “E’ un alto  funzionario” (He is a high-ranking official ), “Si interessa di alta finanza”(He is interested in  high finance), “Fu condannato per alto tradimento”, “In alta stagione i prezzi sono più alti”, “Ha un’alta opinione di sé”, “Il ministro incontrò gli alti ufficiali dell’esercito”, where the adjective “alto” does not refer to the height of a person.
The only one exceptions are “quartieri alti” (upper class districts)and "classi alte" (“upper classes").

Also, we place “alto” before a noun in sentences like e.g. “Vive in alta Italia” (He lives in Northern Italy) , “Amo  fare gite in alta montagna” where “alto” refers to the altitude/ height or to the northern part of a country.

Instead, when “alto” refers to a tall person, it is always placed after the noun as in “Era un uomo alto”, “Vidi una donna alta che mi si avvicinava”,  “Nell’atrio dell’albergo c’era un gruppo di ragazzi molto alti”,”E’ una ragazza alta per la sua età”, etc.

Best regards,

Maria


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Would you please tell me if “alto” can also be used as a predicate adjective as in the following sentence:

L’aeroplano è alto nel cielo.
The airplane is high in the sky.

Thank you

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

It is so: the adjective “alto” can also be used as a predicate adjective as in the sentence: “L’aeroplano è alto nel cielo” as well as in “Io sono piuttosto basso, ma mio fratello è molto alto“, “Le sue aspettative erano davvero alte”, “Sei molto alto per la tua età”,”La montagna che vedi all’orizzonte è molto alta”,etc.


All the best.

Maria

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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