Italian Language/Restrictive Adjectives
Would you please help me to understand “restrictive” adjectives.
Please see your answer to my question about the position of adjectives – 4/30/2016 where you told me that “restrictive” adjectives generally follow the noun they modify.
My problem is that I have come to realize that I do not know what is meant by a “restrictive” adjective.
At first, I thought that a “restrictive” adjective was the same thing as a “limiting” adjective (possessive adjectives, demonstrative adjectives, indefinite adjectives, numbers, articles, interrogative adjectives, titles, and proper adjectives).
But, now I think that a “restrictive” adjective may not be the same as a “limiting” adjective. So, I would very much appreciate if you would please explain what is meant by a “restrictive” adjective.
Can you also please tell me if the same adjective can sometimes be used as a “descriptive” adjective and at other times be used as a “restrictive” adjective.
Thank you very much.
when I wrote :“Anyway, generally speaking, descriptive adjectives precede the nouns they modify, while, generally speaking, restrictive adjectives follow the nouns they modify”(see my answer on 4/30/2016), I wanted to mean that such “restrictive” adjectives served to specify the particular circumstance or circumstances being mentioned, and in fact I have quoted some examples that explained the sense of the term “restrictive”, though perhaps I should have used the term “limiting” as in e.g. “a limiting factor” just to refine the sense of a context.
So, in the above-mentioned answer I just wrote:” For example, if I say “Andrò ad abitare nella vecchia casa dei nonni”, the adjective “vecchia” describes the house as an old house, while if I say “Andrò ad abitare per un po’ nella casa vecchia”, I want to denote that this house is old in comparison with another house which is not old, and then the adjective “vecchia” restricts the concept.
See also:“Le vecchie scarpe sono state buttate via “ which is different from “Le scarpe vecchie sono state buttate via” where it’s clear that I made a choice; “Ho conosciuto il giovane insegnante di mia figlia “ which is different from “Ho conosciuto l'insegnante giovane di mia figlia “ which means tha there is another teacher who is less young.
Moreover we often use a descriptive adjective before the noun when it has a figurative sense as in “ Un alto magistrato” where “alto” means “important” , whereas “Un magistrato alto “ denotes that this magistrate is very tall”.
As you can see, the adjectives “vecchio”, “giovane” and "alto" can be either descriptive adjectives or restrictive/limiting adjectives, depending on their place in a sentence.
I really know that this subtle difference between two different positions of the same adjective can be hard for an English speaker to understand, but in Italian such a nuance is very common.
To conclude, I have therefore to tell you that the same adjective can sometimes be used as a “descriptive” adjective and at other times be used as a “restrictive” adjective, just as you see in the above-mentioned examples.
Hope I’ve help you a little bit.