Translated by Dina Merali

In today’s article called “Molto è variabile oppure no?”, I answer a question of a student of mine: Molto can change or not? When do I use Molto and when Molta, Molte, Molti? You might know that molto in Italian can translate the English words: very, many, a lot, etc. But, if you want to know more and if you are curious to read and listen to my reply, don’t miss out this episode!

Recently I was asked a very specific question by a student who had recently started studying italian. The question was: “Is molto invariable or not? Why is it that in certain cases we can only use molto, and in others molta, molte, molti?”

I have to admit that I often correct and explain the usage of this word during my classes. But I realize that, although the explanation is straightforward, absorb it and und truly understanding the correct usage may not be.

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How do you use molto?

To understand when to correctly use ‘molto’, we have to take a step back and take a look at grammar. Don’t worry, as always I will be as clear and brief as possible. So:

  • Molto is variable as an adjective.
  • Molto is invariable as an adverb.

At this point, many of you can tell me that this explanation is not sufficiently clear and exhaustive, especially for those who are not fond of grammar. For this reason, I’ll go into more detail.

1. Molto as an adjective

Molto is used as an adjective when it accompanies a noun and therefore gives us more information about the noun. For example:

  • Voglio mangiare molta pasta. = I want to eat a lot of pasta. 
  • Hanno invitato molti amici. = They invited a lot of friends.
  • Credo che visiteranno molte città. = I think they’ll visit a lot of cities.
  • Ci vuole molto tempo per imparare una lingua. = It takes a lot of time to learn a language.

As you can see, the last letter of molto changes itself to accommodate the gender and number of the noun it is associated with.

So the last letter becomes -o when molto is a singular masculine adjective, -a when it is singular feminine, -i when it is plural masculine, and -e when it is a plural feminine adjective.

2. Molto as an adverb

There are three cases in which we can use molto as an adverb, and these cases do not alter the ending of the word:

  1.  When it accompanies a verb.
  2.  When it accompanies an adjective.
  3.  When it accompanies an adverb.

a. Molto is an adverb when it accompanies a verb, in this case molto tells us something about the verb, such as in these examples:

  • Corro molto tutti i giorni. = I run a lot every day.
  • Quanto hai detto mi dice molto su di te. = What you said tells me a lot about you.
  • Abbiamo mangiato molto ieri. = We ate a lot yesterday.
  • Fischietta molto quando è di buon umore. = He whistles a lot when he’s in a good mood.

b. Molto as an adverb which accompanies an adjective, such as:

  • Il tuo abito è molto elegante. = Your dress is very elegant.
  • La serata è stata molto bella. = The event was very nice.
  • Bisogna sfruttare bene il proprio tempo perché è molto prezioso. = You have to make good use of your time because it is very precious.
  • Quei ragazzi sono sempre molto ottimisti. = Those guys are always very optimistic.

As you can see, in these examples also, molto is used invariably no matter the gender or number of the adjectives that are following the word molto.

c. Molto as an adverb when it accompanies another adverb:

  • Cantano molto bene. = They sing very well.
  • È arrivato molto tardi. = He showed up very late.
  • Trascorre le sue giornate molto tranquillamente. = He spends his days very quietly.
  • È molto meglio lasciare tutto così. = It’s much better to leave everything like this.

In conclusion

I hope that this article has helped you come to a better understanding of the meaning and usage of the word ‘molto’.

Molto is a particular word and as you saw today it can be translated in many different ways in English. In fact, depending on the situation it could be very, a lot, much, many…

Take care to use the word molto correctly, paying particular attention to the of the word. 

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