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I have encountered the following sentence in my Rosetta Stone program:

Non c'è niente di nuovo in questa camera.

Why does the adjective nuovo not directly modify the noun niente? In other words, why does the whole sentence not become the following:

Non c'è niente nuovo in questa camera.

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As explained by @Tobia, "niente" is an indefinite pronoun, which in this sentence is synonym to "qualcosa", followed by "di nuovo" which has the function of what is called a "complemento partitivo", as you can see in this link. In can't be "nuovo" without the preposition "di" because such a complement is always introduced with preposition "di", "tra" o "fra" as you can see in these links:

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  • I still can't get it. Is it true that whenever you modify an indefinite pronoun, you always modify it using a preposition (or what you call complemento partitivo)? Or is nuovo the special case here and the rule can be different in other adjectives? – Blaszard Jul 4 '15 at 12:20
  • @Gardecolo: Not always: "niente", as "qualcosa", can also be followed by "altro" ("nient'altro"). But the construction "indefinite pronoun" + "complemento partitivo" is very usual (also with other adjectives). – Charo Jul 4 '15 at 13:30
  • @Gardecolo: For instance, "niente di meglio", "niente di simile", "niente di buono", "niente di bello", "niente di personale", ... – Charo Jul 4 '15 at 13:40
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Short answer: it's not a noun in the context you provided, but a pronoun.

Specifically mentioned in:

http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/niente/

c. Col sign. del pron. indef. qualcosa, per lo più in proposizione interrogativa: sai n.?, c’è n. di nuovo?, desidera nient’altro? Con uso e valore simile nella locuz. non per n., formula di attenuazione con cui si introduce una domanda o un’affermazione che si presume indiscreta: non per n., ma si potrebbe sapere dove andate?; con altro sign., non per n., non a caso, non senza un motivo: non per n. hanno scelto proprio lui!

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  • We have the best practice of answering in English to a question posed in English and in Italian to a question posed in Italian. Please, make an effort to translate the Italian citation into English or, at least, make a short English summary of it, to make sure that the OP would be able to fully understand your answer. – I.M. Jul 4 '15 at 10:37

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