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Romanian Adjectives: Endings, Comparisons, and Expressions

Adjectives in Romanian are much different from adjectives in English. Adjectives agree with nouns in gender, number and case. Unlike in English, the typical place for an adjective in a sentence is after the noun, not in front of it. Whenever an adjective preceeds a noun, the intention is purely emphatic. Adjectives may have one or two main endings, the latter being more frequent.

Endings

Adjectives with two endings:

  • bun (masc. sg.), bună (fem. sg.)
    buni (masc. pl.), bune (fem. pl.) good
  • vechi, veche
    vechi
    (masc. and fem. pl) old (for inanimate objects only)
  • bătrân, bătrână
    bătrâni, bătrâne
    old (for animate objects only)
  • nou, nouă
    noi
    new
  • tânăr, tânără
    tineri, tinere
    young

Note: There is a usage peculiarity for tânăr / bătrân (young / old). Whenever one refers to a younger / older sibling, the adjective is mic (small), not tânăr, and mare (big), not bătrân:

Sora mea mai mică este profesoară, cea mai mare, doctor.
My youngest sister is a teacher, my oldest one, a medical doctor.

  • frumos, frumoasă
    frumoși, frumoase
    beautiful
  • inteligent, inteligentă
    inteligenți, inteligente
    intelligent, smart

Some adjectives are derived from verbal past participles:

  • a cunoaște → cunoscut (past participle)
    cunoscut, cunoscută
    cunoscuți, cunoscute well-known
  • a aprecia → apreciat
    apreciat, apreciată
    apreciați, apreciate
    appreciated (person, work)

Adjectives with one ending (better know as ‘adjectives with sg. –e ending’):

  • rece (masc. and fem. sg.)
    reci (masc. and fem. pl.) cold
  • fierbinte
    fierbinți hot, heated
  • iute
    iuți
    hot, spicy
  • dulce
    dulci
    sweet
  • limpede
    limpezi
    clear
  • mare
    mari
    big
  • verde
    verzi
    green

Some adjectives, most of them neologisms or name of colors, have the same form for all genders and numbers:

  • cumsecade = kind, helpful, nice (for people only)
  • atroce = atrocious
  • eficace = efficient
  • bleu = light blue
  • gri = gray
  • lila = lavender
  • maro = brown
  • olive = olive green
  • vernil = light green

Degrees of Comparison

Positive

  • inteligent intelligent, smart, bright

Comparative

  • mai inteligent decât / ca more intelligent than
  • mai puțin inteligent decât / ca less intelligent than
  • la fel de inteligent ca as intellient as

Superlative

  • cel mai inteligent (relative) the most intelligent
  • foarte / extraordinar de inteligent (absolute) very intelligent

In a noun-adjective structure, the adjective agrees with the noun in gender and number. The G.-D. ending always applies to the first word of the structure, be it the noun or the adjective.

Note that the G.-D. singular and plural for the feminine second term of a noun-adjective or adjective-noun structure looks like either a singular G.-D. that lost its final vowel or a plural N.-Ac. (See chart below)

Singular Plural
Masc. N-Ac bărbat inteligent

inteligent bărbat

bărbați inteligenți

inteligenți bărbați

Masc. G-D bărbatului inteligent

inteligentului bărbat

bărbaților inteligenți

inteligenților bărbați

Fem. N-Ac femeie inteligentă

inteligentă femeie

femei inteligente

inteligente femei

Fem. G-D femeii inteligente

inteligentei femei

femeilor inteligente

inteligentelor femei

Examples:

  • Clădirea ONU este foarte impunătoare.
    The U.N. building is very impressive.
  • Domnul Ralea și-a oferit serviciile unei companii de comerț bine-cunoscute.
    Mr. Ralea offered his services to a well-known trade company.
  • În ultima vreme s-a discutat mult despre arhitectura noii școli.
    There was a lot of talk lately about the architecture of the new school.

Expressions

Still in the adjective category are several expressions that function as adjectives and never change their form. Most of the time these expressions refer to human qualities:

  • de încredere = trustworthy
  • fără scrupule = unscrupulous
  • cu capul pe umeri = level-headed
  • cu capul plecat = humble
  • cu nasul pe sus = full of himself/herself; vain

Learn and practice hundreds of Romanian adjectives in context with Clozemaster!


This article is Chapter 4: Adjectives of the Foreign Service Institute’s Romanian Reference Grammar, Copyright: Attribution Non-Commercial (BY-NC).

Hoffman CN. Romanian reference grammar. Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State, 1989.

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