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Can someone explain if there is a difference in meaning or usage between vicino and vicina. As far as I can tell, they seem to be interchangeable, yet I've seen both used.

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Your confusion comes from the fact that vicino can be a noun, an adjective, or an adverb; vicina can only be a noun or an adjective, and it is the feminine version of that usage of vicino. In this sense, you also have the plural version.

Used as a noun, vicino means "neighbor" and vicina would be the feminine version of it:

Il mio vicino mi ha regalato una torta, la mia vicina invece è veramente antipatica;

used as an adjective, it means "close, neighboring":

La mia borsa è vicina alla tua, quei paesi vicini sono molto belli,

used as an adverb, vicino means "near":

La ragazza sta arrivando vicino al treno

  • 1
    "La ragazza sta arrivando vicino al treno"... this sentence sounds really odd... probably because anyone would say La ragazza si sta avvicinando al treno instead of using arrivare + vicino. – Bakuriu Jun 8 '14 at 12:12
  • @Bakuriu You're right, but I couldn't think of a better example! – martina Jun 8 '14 at 13:02
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    "La ragazza sta andando vicino al treno" oppure "la ragazza si sta spostando vicino al treno". – Zachiel Jun 13 '14 at 17:53
  • La ragazza è vicino al treno (è = si trova, "vicino" is used as an adverb) – Kokoroatari Jul 4 '14 at 22:48
  • La ragazza è vicina al treno ("è" forms a predicate adjective, and "vicina" is obviously used as an adjective) – Kokoroatari Jul 4 '14 at 23:00

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