Spanish Adjectives Lesson

Learning about Spanish adjectives is important because they allow us to describe the specific characteristics of a person, place or thing. For example, we can use adjectives to describe the color of something or the material that it is made from.

In the sentence “a blue, plastic pencil”, the words “blue” and “plastic” are both adjectives.

Characteristics of Spanish Adjectives

The main difference between Spanish and English adjectives is that in Spanish the form of the word changes depending on the gender of the noun that it’s describing and whether it’s singular or plural. For example:

El perro negro – The black dog

Los perros negros – The black dogs

La pluma negra – The black pen

Las plumas negras – The black pens

Notice how the endings of the adjective (negro/negros/negra/negras) change in these examples to match the gender and quantity of the noun.

There are some Spanish adjectives that end in the letter “e”, such as “grande” (big). These adjectives don’t change to reflect the gender of the noun, but they do change to reflect the quantity. For example:

La casa grande – The big house

Las casas grandes – The big houses

El gato grande – The big cat

Los gatos grandes – The big cats

There are also some Spanish adjectives that end in consonants, such as “joven” (young). These adjectives also only change to match the quantity of the noun and not the gender. To make these adjectives plural, you simply need to add “es” to the end. For example:

El chico joven – The young boy

Los chicos jovenes – The young boys

La chica joven – The young girl

Las chicas jovenes – The young girls

Using Adjectives

You may have noticed from the above examples that the positioning of adjectives in the sentence is also different in Spanish and English. In English, the adjective goes before the noun it refers to. In most cases, a Spanish adjective will go after the noun. For example:

El libro rojo – The red book

Notice how in the Spanish description the adjective (“rojo” – red) goes after the noun (“libro” – book).

Exceptions

Exceptions to the above rules occur when the adjective is describing a nationality. In cases where the nationality ends in a consonant, then an “a” is added to make a distinctive feminine form of the adjective. For example:

El hombre español – The Spanish man

La mujer española – The Spanish woman

Los hombres españoles – The Spanish men

Las mujeres españolas – The Spanish women

Differences between European Spanish and Latin American adjectives

The characteristics of Spanish adjectives, and the ways that they are used, are the same in all Spanish speaking countries. There are some regional variations in the meanings given to adjectives, in particular when they are used as slang words.

For example, in most places the word “burro” means donkey, but in Mexico it is also commonly used as an adjective to describe an idiot or fool.

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