Spanish Adjectives


Spanish Adjectives

Adjectives are words that go with the noun to modify or qualify the meaning adding more information or detail making it different to the others and more specific. The most important adjectives are the qualifying adjectives. Examples of this type of adjectives are pequeño (small), azul (blue) or beautiful (bonito). These are the group that we are going to study in this section.

Adjectives agree in number

As we saw, every word around the noun has to agree in number. In other words, if the noun is singular, the adjective should be singular as well. This is a very important thing for the English speakers because adjectives in English are invariable, remain the same form in plural or singular.

Una casa blanca (a white house) / Dos casas blancas (two white houses)

Un niño rubio (a blond boy) / Dos niños rubios (two blond boys)

To form the plural from de singular form of an adjective is pretty much the same as we do with nouns. To make the plural form:

– In singular adjectives ending in vowel add –s

Interesante / Interesantes (interesting)
Guapo / Guapos (handsome)
Tonto / Tontos (silly)
Bonito / Bonitos (beautiful)

– In singular adjectives ending in consonant or accented vowel add –es:

fenomenal / fenomenales (phenomenal)
marroquí / marroquíes (Moroccan)
normal / normales (normal)
hindú / hindúes (Hindu)

– In singular adjectives ending in –z we replace that by –ces:

voraz / voraces (voracious)
sagaz / sagaces (sagacious)
tenaz / tenaces (tenacious)

Adjectives agree in gender

Adjectives need to agree in gender with the verb they are associated. That is to say if the noun is masculine the adjective that qualifies has to be masculine or in the opposite case, if it is a feminine noun the adjective needs to be feminine as well.

Un hombre alto (a tall man) / Una mujer alta (a tall woman)

To form the feminine, masculine adjectives ending in:

 -o, we replace that with –a:

feo / fea (ugly)
guapo / guapa (handsome/pretty)

-án,-ín,-ón,-or replaced by –ana,-ina,-ona,-ora respectively:

holgazán / holgazana (lazy)
parlanchín / parlanchina (talkative)
bonachón / bonachona (goody)
trabajador / trabajadora (hardworking)

 -ior remains the same:

inferior (lower) / superior (higher)
anterior (previous) / posterior (later)
mejor (better) / peor (worse)

– Adjectives of nationality ending in consonant adding an –a:

francés / francesa (French)
inglés / inglesa (English)
alemán / alemana (Dutch)

– Adjectives of nationality, ending in -a,-e,- i, -u remain the same:

belga (Belgian)
canadiense (Canadian)
iraquí (Iraki)

Position of the adjective

Spanish adjectives may be before or after the nouns they modify, depending on various factors. But, in general we can say that the most common position is after the noun, that means, in the opposite position that we find them in English language. Generally speaking, we can say that descriptive adjectives follow nouns usually, while limiting adjectives (such as demonstrative, indefinite, etc.) precede nouns.

Un coche negro (a black car)

Un día soleado (a sunny day)

Shortened forms of adjectives

Adjectives usually go after the noun but sometimes there are other cases when the adjective goes before the noun. In these cases, the adjective is frequently modified loosing the last vowel or syllable. Even, sometimes this modified adjectives that go before the noun can change their meaning. We will see a few examples to illustrate this:

Un coche grande (a big car) / Un gran coche (a great car)
Medio equipo (half the team) / Un equipo medio (an average group)
Un pobre hombre (a wretched ma) / Un hombre pobre (a poor man)
Un buen hombre (a harmless man) / Un hombre bueno (a good man)
Un único espectáculo (a single concert) / Un concierto único (a unique concert)

Comparison of adjectives

Adjectives have two degrees of comparison: comparative and superlative.

Comparative

We use the comparative degree when comparing two objects, persons, or ideas.a comparative adjective. To form a comparative adjective, in Spanish, you have to use más (more) or menos (less) or tan (the same):

Ella es más alta que yo (She is taller than I am)
La ciudad el menos tranquila que el pueblo (City is less calm than village)
Inglaterra es tan fría como Irlanda (England is as cold as Ireland)

So, comparatives (comparativos) are said to refer to superiority (mas…que), inferiority (menos…que) or equality (tan…como). The second element in the comparation can be:

– Another adjective:
Los gatos son más listos que malos (cats are more clever than naughty)

– A noun:
Los gatos son más pequeños que los tigres (cats are smaller than tigers)

– An adverb:
Los gatos son más limpios que antes (cats are cleaner than before)

– An adverb phrase:
En casa se come mejor que en un restaurante (You can eat better at home than in a restaurant)

– A verb clause:
Sabes más español de lo que piensas (You know more English than you think you do)

Irregular comparatives

-Bueno/a/os/as (good) changes to mejor/es (better)
La playa es buena / La playa es mejor que la montaña
(The beach is good / The beach is better that the mountain)

-Malo/a/os/as (bad) changes to peor/es (worse)
La grasa es mala / La grasa es peor que la fibra
(Fat is bad / Fat is worse than fiber)

-Grande/es (big) changes to mayor/es (bigger)
Londres es grande / Londres es mayor que Barcelona
(London is big / London is bigger than Barcelona)

-Pequeño/a/os/as (small) changes to menor (Smaller)
Barcelona es pequeña / Barcelona es más pequeña que Londres
(Barcelona is small / Barcelona is smaller than London)

Superlative

We use the superlative form when comparing three or more objects, persons, or ideas. There are two main groups of superlatives, the relative superlative and the absolute superlative.

The relative superlative

The English forms “the most…” and “the least…” are usually called the relative superlative because the information they refer to is amongst an specific group. For Instance:

El niño más alto de la clase (The tallest boy in class)
El coche más rápido del mundo (The fastest car in the world)
El peor estudiante de la clase (the worst student of the class)
La casa menos ordenada que he visto (the house less tided up I’ve ever seen)

The absolute superlative

The absolute superlative is used to intensify the quality of the adjective. It is formed by “muy” (very) + adjective or by adding -ísimo, -ísima, -ísimos, or -ísimas to the adjective or adverb. If the adjective ends in a vowel, you have to remove the vowel before attaching the endings. The absolute superlative does not strictly compare one thing to another, but states “a greater amount of”. This can be translated into English by placing “very” before the adjective or adverb.

Es una persona muy simpatico (He/She is a very nice person)
Es una persona simpatiquísima (He/She is a very nice person)

Julia es una chica muy guapa (Julia is a very pretty girl)
Julia es una chica guapísima (Julia is a very pretty girl)

Irregular absolute superlatives

Bueno-Mejor-Óptimo (El resultado es óptimo / The results are optimal)
Malo-Peor-Pésimo (El hice un examen pésimo / I did a dreadful exam)

Alto-Superior-Supremo (Patatas de calidad suprema / Supreme quality potates)
Bajo-Inferior-Ínfimo (La diferencia es ínfima / The difference is very tiny)

Pequeño-Menor-Mínimo (No tiene un mínimo respeto / He doesn’t have a minimum respect)
Grande-Mayor-Máximo (Es el máximo goleador / He is the best scorer)

Informal absolute superlatives

There are some prefixes that are used in colloquial language to express the absolute superlative.

Super: María es una chica supersincera (María is a really sincere girl)
Extra: Una pizza extragrande (An extra sized pizza)
Archi: Ricardo es mi archienemigo (Ricardo is my archenemy)
Requete: El helado está requetebueno (The ice cream is really tasty)

How to say “more and more” and “less and less”

Cada vez más (more and more):
Hace cada vez más frío (It is more and more cold)

Cada vez menos (less and less):
Es cada vez menos interesante (It is less and less interesting)

We hope we helped with this  Spanish lesson . If there is anything about the adjectives in this post that you think is not correct please send us an e-mail. We tried to cover as much as we could in order to give you a good start  with this. (Spanish info)