Since the publication of The Divine Comedy in the 1300s, the first major literary work written in Italian, the Italian language has had a reputation for being singularly beautiful. You can charm or impress another person by using the Italian words for “beautiful,” but it helps if you first understand the correct forms of gender and pronunciation.
With only a few exceptions, the word “beautiful” is primarily used as an adjective. And because Italian is a language that uses different gender forms for different words, the ending of the word in Italian depends on the noun it’s describing. When referring to a single beautiful male cat, you say bello gatto, whereas when referring to a single female cat, you say bella gatta. However, if you’re referring to two cats, you say belli gatti or belle gatte respectively.
The masculine singular form of the word beautiful in Italian, bello, is pronounced similarly to the word “hello” in English. The difference is that the O at the end of the word is spoken like the O in the word “top” rather than being a long O like the O in “Hello.” The feminine singular form, bella, is pronounced like the word “fella” in English, with the last letter making an “ahh” sound.
When addressing a woman and wishing to compliment her on her beauty in Italian, say, Sei molta bella! This means, “You are quite beautiful,” or, “You are most beautiful.” When addressing a man, use the masculine variation, Sei molto bello! When greeting a beautiful person, say Ciao bella! or Ciao bello! When exulting over a beautiful day, say Che bella giarnata! which means, “What a beautiful day!”
Superlatives are a form of speech used to describe a person or object that’s the most beautiful or the most extraordinary. In languages other than English, this is sometimes expressed by adding a suffix to the end of the word. Drop the final vowel in the stem and add the suffix -issima or issimo. For example, if you want to say your cat is the most beautiful, you would say bellissima gatta or bellissimo gatto.
Boze Herrington is a writer and blogger who lives in Kansas City, Mo. His work has been featured in Cracked and "The Atlantic."