In this lesson, we are going to speak about adjectives in Spanish. More specifically, descriptive adjectives (adjetivos calificativos), words that we use to describe things, people, places… There is a big difference in how adjectives work in Spanish and in English that you need to learn. Let’s start with a video.
There are two fundamental things you should remember about adjectives in Spanish: Spanish adjectives have to agree with the noun they refer to and most adjectives go after the noun. Let’s see it in more detail.
Adjectives in Spanish need to agree with the noun
- Adjectives have to agree with the noun they refer to, even if they aren’t right next to it.
- This means that an adjective changes depending on the gender of the noun and whether are singular or plural.
- Adjectives that end in «o» in the masculine singular form change the «o» to «a» in the feminine form. When plural, the adjective ends in «os» (masculine) or «as» (feminine).
- Masculine singular: el chico pequeño (the small boy)
- Feminine singular: la chica pequeña (the small girl)
- Masculine plural: los chicos pequeños (the small boys)
- Feminine plural: las chicas pequeñas (the small girls)
- Adjectives that don’t end in «o» don’t change in the singular. If the noun is plural, add «s» if it ends in a vowel, or «es» if it ends in a consonant.
- Masculine singular: el hombre triste (the sad man)
- Feminine singular: la mujer triste (the sad woman)
- Masculine plural: los hombres tristes (the sad men)
- Feminine plural: las mujeres tristes (the sad women)
Careful! You will lose marks if your adjectives don’t agree…
Spanish adjectives position
In Spanish, most adjectives go after the noun they describe. Take this as a rule and if you are not sure about where to put the adjective, follow this rule, you have many possibilities to be right.
But that is not always the case. Some adjectives always go in front of the noun they are describing. They can be, for instance, quantifiers or ordinal numbers, not descriptive adjectives. You have some examples below:
Some adjectives change before a masculine noun
A few Spanish adjectives lose the final «o» when they go in front of a masculine noun. These adjectives are:
- Un buen día (a good day)
- El tercer libro (the third book)
- Un mal día (a bad day )
- Una buena semana (a good week)
- La tercera calle (the third street)
- Una mala semana (a bad week)
(*) “Alguno” and “ninguno” drop the final “o” and add an accent:
- No hay ningún taxi libre (there is not taxi free)
(**) “Grande” is the only adjective that drops “de” before a masculine or a feminine word:
- Es una gran señora (She is a great lady)
Some adjectives change their meaning depending of their position
I know what you must be thinking right now, but don’t panic they are really few
Now time to practice everything you have learned. Just click on the bottom below to access the exercises.
Remember that the task will not be finished until you complete the MINI-TEST and your tutor reviews it.