Do you know the Italian words meglio, migliore, peggio and peggiore? If you are not sure about how to use them, don’t worry, Italians too struggle with them. They are not so easy to use but I have good news for you: in the following text, you can find an easy explanation of these adjectives and adverbs and many examples. I hope this article called “Meglio, migliore, peggio e peggiore: 4 words that cause confusion”, will be helpful for you and I hope you will be able to use these words correctly.

Meglio, migliore, peggio and peggiore are some terms which give a hard time not only to Italian students but also to Italians themselves. It is for this reason that I consider it worthwhile to talk about them once again even though I have already touched upon them in another article: The 5 Most Common Errors in Italian.

As always, I will try to make the explanation as simple as possible, in such a manner that would allow you to understand when and how to use meglio, migliore, peggio and peggiore. However, before starting the explanation, I would like to clarify that these words are not interchangeable with each other, since they each have a specific function and a very precise meaning.

Meglio and peggio

Meglio and peggio are 2 adverbs and the function of these adverbs is that of modifying or adding additional information to the verb itself (more frequently), but also to adjectives or other adverbs.

 If we wanted to analyse the meaning of the 2 words, we could say that:

  • Meglio = Più bene (in modo migliore – in a better way)

E.g. Ti senti meglio di ieri? (Stai più bene di ieri?)

  • Peggio = Più male (in modo peggiore – in a worse way)

E.g. Quella gente sta peggio di noi. (Quella gente sta più male di noi.)

It is advised that you remember that in Italian, it is correct to use meglio and peggio, but we avoid the use of più bene and più male!

 

Migliore and peggiore

Migliore and peggiore are 2 adjectives and they give us information about the noun that they are accompanying.

Let’s try to analyse their meaning:

  • Migliore = better. Usually, it can also take on the meaning of nicer/more beautiful/more capable.

E.g. È la pizza migliore che io abbia mai mangiato. (È la pizza più buona che io abbia mangiato).

E.g. Questo quadro è il migliore della collezione. (Questo quadro è il più bello della collezione)

E.g. Lui è il miglior chirurgo in circolazione. (Lui è il chirurgo più bravo in circolazione)

  • Peggiore = worse, but sometimes it takes on the meaning of uglier/meaner.

E.g. È la persona peggiore che io conosca. (È la persona più cattiva che io conosca)

E.g. Il tema che hai scritto è peggiore dell’altro (Il tema che hai scritto è più brutto dell’altro).

Even though from a grammatical point of view it is very important not to use meglio and peggio in place of migliore and peggiore and vice versa, this remains one of the most common mistakes in Italian, committed not only by those who want to learn Italian, but also by Italians themselves. In fact, as confirmed by the Sabatini-Coletti dictionary, in everyday Italian conversation, especially in some regions of central Italy, it is not unusual to find phrases such as:

  • È il meglio medico del paese.
  • l meglio spettacoli d’America.
  • Non so se il tuo libro è meglio o peggio del mio.

How can we avoid these errors?

From what has been said so far, it is clear that the use of meglio, migliore, peggio and peggiore is not so automatic and intuitive. So, how can we avoid committing these errors?

We must consider 2 things in particular:

  • Adverbs are invariable while adjectives are not. This means that adverbs never change while the final part of the adjectives change based on gender and number.
  • Meglio, migliore, peggio and peggiore have very precise meanings, and if we take into consideration what we want to express, it will be easier to use the correct adjective or adverb.

Let us test this out by examining once again three phrases taken from the Sabatini-Coletti dictionary and let us try to make some substitutions.

  • È il meglio medico del paese.

In this phrase, “meglio” indicates a characteristic that is more competent and capable in nature, don’t you think? Therefore, the correct phrase would be: “È il miglior medico del paese”.

  • l meglio spettacoli d’America.

In this phrase, the error is easily identifiable. The word spettacoli is masculine and plural and as a result, the adjective that agrees with the noun should be used. In addition, meglio means “più bene” and if we insert “più bene” in this phrase, it will produce a very strange result. Therefore, it is clear that the most accurate choice is “I migliori spettacoli d’America”, where with migliori, we actually mean “più belli”.

  • Non so se il tuo libro è meglio o peggio del mio.

Also in this last phrase, the substitution of meglio with its meaning helps us to immediately understand what is preferable to use. As a matter of fact, saying Non so se il tuo libro è più bene o più male del mio is a very odd phrase.

A book can be bello or brutto if a book is more or less enchanting, but it could also be buono if it provides relevant and useful information. Therefore, even in this case, it is preferable to use the words migliore and peggiore. Non so se il tuo libro è migliore (più buono, più bello) o peggiore (più cattivo, più brutto) del mio.

Conclusion

Language is constantly changing, and this is an uncontrollable phenomenon, and it is not rare for terms and structures of spoken language to become so prevalent that they become the rule. 

Despite this constant evolution, meglio, migliore, peggio and peggiore remain words that, although used inaccurately in everyday conversations and accepted by Italian speakers, cannot be used randomly in written language. 

In order to avoid running into errors while using these words, especially when you are writing, try to stop and reflect. What do you wish to express? Substitute these terms with their corresponding meanings, exactly as I demonstrated in the above paragraphs and you’ll see that with a bit of practice, it will all become simpler and more automatic. 

ila firma

Did you like this article? If so, leave a comment and share it! You can also try to write sentences with meglio, peggio, migliore and peggiore. I will be glad to read them and to correct you if you make a mistake! 

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