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Descriptive Adjectives

In Spanish, as in English, we use adjectives to describe things. Instead of saying, "He is a boy," we can give the boy more life and more character by saying, "He is a tall boy." The adjective "tall" helps to describe the noun "boy". The same is done in Spanish.

Gender

In Spanish, the spelling of adjectives usually change depending if the noun is feminine or masculine. Most adjectives end in "o" for masculine nouns and "a" for feminine nouns. For example, "El chico es alto," (The boy is tall) and "La chica es alta" (The girls is tall). However, there are some exceptions:

  • Adjectives that end in "dor" are masculine and "dora" are feminine
  • Adjectives that end in "e" are both masculine and feminine

Singular/Plural

The 4 rules for making adjectives plural are the same for making nouns plural:

  1. If the adjective ends in a vowel add "s".
  2. If the adjective ends in a consonant ad "es"
  3. If the adjective ends in an "s" do not change the word
  4. If the adjective ends in a "z" change the "z" to a "c" and ad "es"

Placement

Generally, adjectives follow the noun. For example, "La maestra inteligente (The intelligent tutor)." There are a few exceptions to this rule,

  • "Buen"is used before a noun and "bueno" is used after a noun and they both translate to "good". This same rule applies to "mal" and "malo" which means "bad".
  • "Gran"is used before a noun which means "great" but "grande" is used after a noun which means "big". For example,

Spanish

English

El gran trabajador / el trabajador grande

The great worker / the big worker

 
  • Some adjectives change meaning if used before or after a noun:

Spanish

English

El pobre trabajador

El trabajadorpobre

The pitiful worker

The poor worker

El único trabajador

El trabajador único

The only worker

The unique worker

El viejo trabajador

El trabajador viejo

The long-time worker

The old worker