You may have heard the word ‘Pasquetta’ in Italian which literally means ‘little Easter’. This is known in English as Easter Monday. It is a day Italians often spend with friends or family outside, maybe going for a picnic or a day trip somewhere. The word is made up of ‘Pasqua’ (Easter) and the suffix ‘etta’, which means little. 

A suffix is a group of letters you add to the end of a root of a word, for example studying, taller, helpful, walked. Some Italian examples are: distribuzione, stabilimento, gelateria

ciclista.

 

In Italian, there are certain types of suffixes can be used to indicate if something is small, big, bad, or even as a term of endearment. For example:

 

Un uccello (a bird) - un uccellino (a small bird)

Un attimo (a moment) - un attimino (a small moment)

Un paese (a village) - un paesino (a small village)

Un bacio (a kiss) - un bacione (a big kiss)

Un libro (a book) - un librone (a big book)

Un gatto (a cat) - un gattone (a big cat)

Una parola (a word) - una parolaccia (a bad word / a swear word)

Una figura (an impression) - una figuraccia (a bad impression)

Un ragazzo (a boy) - un ragazzaccio (a bad boy)

Un orso (a bear) - un orsacchioto (a teddy bear)

Caldo (hot) - calduccio (nice and warm)

 

Today we are going to look at the suffix -etto which is a dimunitive and is used to express that something is small. There are some rules to follow for adding suffixes. 

 

  1. Drop the final vowel in the word before adding the suffix
  2. Add -etto for masculine singular, ad -etta for feminine singular, ad -etti for masculine plural, add -ette for feminine plural 

 

For example:

 

La camera (the room) - la cameretta (the small room)

Le case (the houses) - le casette (the small houses)

Un pezzo (a piece) - un pezzetto (a small piece)

I baci (kisses) - i bacetti (little kisses)

 

There are some words with the -etto suffix added, like Pasquetta, that have taken on a new meaning. Let’s look at some:

 

Un armadio (a wardrobe) - un armadietto (a little wardrobe, or more commonly, a cabinet, a locker or a cupboard)

Una maglia (a sweater) - una maglietta (a t-shirt)

Un sacco (a sack / a bag) - un sacchetto (a small bag, or more commonly, a small shopping bag)

Uno zaino (a rucksack) - uno zainetto (a small rucksack, or more commonly, a book bag or a school bag)

 

There are two useful food-related words created with the suffix -etto that I would like to share with you.

 

The first is the well-known Italian breakfast pastry ‘il cornetto’. It comes from ‘il corno (the horn). Once you add the suffix it becomes ‘il cornetto’ - the little horn or, more commonly, the croissant shaped a bit like a horn.

 

The second one is from ‘la scarpa’ (the shoe). When you add the suffix it becomes ‘la scarpetta’ - the little shoe. ‘Fare la scarpetta’ means to mop up your plate with bread. So the next time you want to use your bread to scoop up the last of your pasta sauce, this is the expression you should use!