By the word “diminutivo” we indicate a particular modification of a noun marking it for its size, which is smaller than the size of the noun itself. We can obtein this form thanks to the use of a suffix among: -ino/a, -etto/a, -ello/a, -uccio/a, -otto/a.
Bicchiere – bicchierino
tavolo – tavolino
vaso – vasetto
casa – casetta
bottiglia – bottiglietta
By the word “accrescitivi” we indicate a particular form of a noun, which is modified by a suffix in order to mark it for its size, which is bigger than the size of the object indicated by the noun itself. We use the suffix -one/a.
Cartello – cartellone
regalo – regalone
libro – librone
scatolo – scatolone
Both diminutivi and accrescitivi are extremely frequent in italian. They do not only indicate a change in the size of the name. Often they are used to express an affective relationship with the object the word represents, as in this example:
Sento molto la mancanza della mia sorellina da quando si è trasferita a Londra. (here the diminutive of ‘sorella’ does not necessarily imply that she is younger or shorter!)
To express the highest grade of a scale or a good quality there are prefixes like: super-, -stra. These prefixes are used only with adjectives, as in the examples below:
intelligente – superintelligente
ordinario – straordinario
We have to notice that some accrescitivi and diminutivi are different from the basic form in genre or meaning. Here you have some examples:
la campana – il campanello (a change of genre)
la porta – il portone (a change of genre)
il cavallo – il cavalletto (a change in meaning because cavalletto is not a small horse but an easel)
Click here to try an exercise where you have to determine whether ‘accrescitivi’ and ‘diminutivi’ are real or not.