It is curious, isn’t it? Che bellino questo cagnolino’ means how nice this doggy is. ‘Ha proprio un bel canino’ means ‘he really has a beautiful canine (tooth)’. Do not worry, do not panic if, in spite of your excellent Italian, you could not get it immediately. Bellino is an adjective, but it has been modified by the suffix ‘ino’ which turned it into a cuter sounding word and this process has also been applied to cane (dog), but, of course in an irregular way. In fact, cane should have become canino, but, canino already means canine (tooth), therefore we use cagnolino (doggy). The suffix ‘ino’ is, in fact, the one which modifies the words to imply that it is smaller and, thus, cuter. We have many other suffixes, such as ‘one’ which modifies the words adding a bigger and awkward sound. For example un uomo (a man) becomes un omone (a big man, but also awkward looking, like Frankestain for example). The suffix ‘accio’ turns the words into something unpleasant, for example: ‘Ho mangiato una pizzaccia’ (I have eaten a bad pizza). We do have a few more, but I do not want to turn your day into una giornataccia (a bad day)!
You might already have studied our suffixes, but, as you know, there is no strict rule, but only some guidelines in order to use them. For an Italian native speaker it is easy to grow accustomed to their uses and their many exceptions, but it takes time spent in Italy for a non native speaker. Do not worry as they are not essential at all. We use the ‘ino’ ones, for example, when we want a word to sound sweeter or nicer, especially when we talk to children. I noticed that you do the same, using other kinds of suffixes. In fact, I needed a bit of time with my nephews to realize that you actually have them in English! I found out that ‘le manine’ are your handies and that ‘i piedini’ are your ‘footsies’ and so on.
Che bellino questo cagnolina… ha proprio un bel canino!
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