My book has the following format when asking a question: "È verde il libro grande?" I write it as such.

But what's the difference with writing "È il libro grande verde?" Would Italians tilt their head? Or can it be used interchangeably?

  • 1
    I am not sure I understand the bit about tilting one's head.
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 21:02
  • @Filippo, if any of the answers satisfy you, accepts one of our answers please ;-)
    – Trix
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 10:48

4 Answers 4


«È il libro grande verde?» is understandable but would sound quite unnatural (if anything, if you really want to attract attention to the possible bigness of the book, you might say «È il libro grande, quello verde?»).

Normally, you would say as your book prescribes, or also simply «Il libro grande è verde?» and the interrogative intonation would take care of it being understood as a question.


In Italian, in contrast to English, the adjectives (especially those that describe colors) usually stay after the noun they describe. Therefore, "È il libro grande verde?" reads almost like "Is the big green book?", that is as an unfinished question, "Is the big green book..." what?

To avoid such misunderstanding, it's necessary to divide the question itself ("È verde?" - "Is it green?") from the description of the object ("il libro grande" - "the big book").


The question is: what do you want to ask? In general verb + subject + complement.

Example: Hai (tu) la mia penna? , Ha lui il libro?

The fact is that in Italian you did not put all the adjectives before (or after) the word; you have to use the conjunction "e" (also "," if you have more than two adjectives) e.g.:

Il libro grande e verde -> emphasizes both features

Il grande libro verde -> the size is the most important characteristic

Niceties aside, the subject is a book that has two features: big and green

BUT you don't find Il verde grande libro or Il grande verde libro (perhaps you will find it in poetry but here we enter a different matter).


"È grande e verde il libro?" = "Il libro è grande e verde?" => You're asking if the book is both green and big.

"È verde il grande libro?" = "È verde il libro grande?" = "Il libro grande è verde?" = "Il grande libro è verde?" => Is the big book green?



È verde il libro grande?

I would never say so, it sounds neither natural nor right to me.

Some questions, like the one you posted, tend to follow this pattern:

Subject + verb + complements

Thus, considering your sentence, I'd opt for

Il libro grande è verde?

And here some other examples

Tua nonna ha 80 anni?

[Tu] potresti passarmi il libro?

This doesn't always apply though, especially when using pronouns. Unlike English, I don't think in Italian there is a fixed structure for questions actually.


È il libro grande verde?

This is plain wrong :)

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    Generalbrus, are you sure about «È verde il libro grande» being «neither natural nor right»? May I ask you to reconsider, perhaps intoning it differently in your mind's ear? Think at it as «È verde, il libro grande?» (as in, you are looking for the big book, you have seen a corner of something green, and now you are asking whether it might be it).
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 8:57
  • @DaG I don't think that is the proper way of asking such a question anyway. I mean, after reading it several times it does sound less unusual (as for anything though) , but at a first glance it seemed just wrong to me. Then again, the OP is learning a language so I think it is important not to focus on what people may casually say.
    – cwbrd
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 9:39

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