Spanish adjectives

Understanding the different types of Spanish adjectives so you can speak more confidently!

If you have taken a beginning Spanish class or read about the language, you may be familiar with the different types of adjectives in Spanish. These words describe something (for example, big, red, fast) and can typically stand directly before a noun. This article explains the different types of adjectives in Spanish and how to use them. It also covers their cases, declensions, and exceptions to their standard rules. 

Adjectives are not the same in every language; they have different roles depending on which word group they fall into. In this article, we’ll explore these variations and see how they appear in Spanish specifically.

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Naming Adjectives in Spanish

The first step to understanding adjectives in Spanish is to know their names and functions. This will allow you to become a more fluent speaker and writer of the language and give you an advantage when reviewing specific types of sentences or grammar. Adjectives in Spanish are also known as “adjetivos” or “adjendos,” depending on the region of the country. 

  • Adjective – Noun or noun phrase that describes another noun. 

All language learners love a list of vocabulary, so here are the names of adjectives in Spanish.

  • Adjetivo: An adjective is a word that describes a person, place, or thing, such as “big” or “fast.”
  • Calificativo: A qualitative word is an adjective that describes the quality of something. The word “beautiful” is an example.
  • Cualidad: A quality is a word that describes the nature of a person, place, or thing. “Fast,” for example, is a quality of a place.
  • Característica: A characteristic describes something that identifies it from other things. “Red” describes a color, which is a characteristic of something.
  • Específico: A specific word is a word that describes quality in a specific way. “Red” is a specific word, while “color” is not specific enough. 
  • Adverbio: An adjective is a descriptive word that describes a person, place, or thing. This differs from an adverb, a descriptive word that describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

Sound easy. Almost as easy as learning the difference between ser and estar. Now let’s get into the fun part! 

Spanish adjective lists

  • Demonstrative adjectives in Spanish

These adjectives are used to identify the noun they are associated with regarding distance or proximity. For example;

  • “este” (this)
  • “estos” (these)
  • “ese” (that)
  • “esos” (those)
  • “aquel” (that one over there)

A good rule of thumb in Spanish is that the article’s ending indicates the distance from which it is being spoken or written. The closer the noun is to the speaker, the shorter the article is.

  • Possession & ownership adjectives in Spanish

These adjectives show ownership or possession of something. For example, “mío” (mine), “suyo” (yours), “sus” (hers), and “su” (his). Keep in mind that some possessive adjectives vary by number.

  • “Mis amigos están aquí.” (My friends are here.) 
  • “Mis amigas están allí.” (My girlfriends are over there.) 

Other variations include article use and noun endings. For example, 

  • “La chaqueta roja es mía.” (The red jacket is mine.)
  • “El libro es del profesor.” (The book is the professor’s.)

To master possessive adjectives in Spanish, get possessive adjectives Spanish chart or ask your italki online Spanish tutor to pay more attention to that area. 

  • Identification adjectives in Spanish

Identification adjectives are also commonly used in Spanish. These adjectives help identify a noun, such as “el” (the) and “ese” (that). Other identification adjectives are formed by joining a definite article with an adjective in Spanish. For example, “nuevo” (new) becomes “la nueva mesa” (the new table).

  • Descriptive adjectives in Spanish 

In Spanish, descriptive adjectives give more information about the noun they describe. They can be used in place of nouns, such as “the red car” or “the small desk,” but are usually used together with another word. 

This other word is called a predicate adjective, describing what kind of object or person the noun is referring to. For example: “The red car is in the garage.” If you want to know where it is located, you will use a locative adjective.

Some descriptive adjectives are also used as verbs, and some are only used as adjectives. Some examples of descriptive adjectives as verbs include decir (“to say”), describir (“to describe”), and describirse (“to describe oneself”).

Examples of Spanish descriptive adjectives:

  • pretty – lindo
  • Fat – gordo 
  • Tall – alto 
  • Thin – delgado 
  • ugly – feo
  • beautiful – hermoso
  • Personality adjectives in Spanish 

Spanish personality adjectives are a way for speakers to describe another person’s personality. These adjectives are often used to make small talk or conversation more interesting, but they can also be used as part of formal language. Spanish adjectives can be used in several ways: to describe someone’s personality (introvert vs. extrovert), behavior (loud vs. quiet), appearance (chubby vs. thin), and much more.

Many Spanish adjectives can be used to describe a person’s personality traits. Some Spanish adjectives may be used to describe someone friendly or outgoing, while others may describe someone shy or reserved. There are also Spanish adjectives that can be used to describe something about the person’s appearance (such as chubby) or behavior (such as loud). Positive adjectives in Spanish may be about personality and appearance. 

Some examples of personality adjectives include: 

  • abierto/a – open.
  • Amble – nice 
  • Ambicioso/a – ambitious 
  • Agresivo/a – aggressive 
  • Afortunado/a – lucky
  • Onomatopoeic adjectives in Spanish

We’ve all heard a word in one language that sounds like a word in another language. Onomatopoeic adjectives are words that sound like what they describe. In Spanish, some adjectives are onomatopoeic, including: 

  • “prrrump” (silent)
  • “chasquido” (sound of snapping fingers)
  • zas” (sound of an explosion)

These are also mimetic words worth remembering as you learn Spanish. If you ever need to describe a sound, this list can help you develop the correct terms.

  • Limiting adjectives in Spanish

Some adjectives are called limiting adjectives because their accompanying noun is implied or specified in the following article. These words include “todo” (all), “ninguno” (no or none), and “alguno” (some). For example, 

  • “Todo el mundo está aquí.” (Everyone is here.)
  • If you say “Todo es difícil.” (Everything is difficult.) you have implied everything without naming it.

Commons Spanish adjectives you should know: 

Spanish adjectives that start with a

  • abierto/a – open.
  • Amble – nice 
  • Ambicioso/a – ambitious 
  • Agresivo/a – aggressive 
  • Afortunado/a – lucky

Spanish adjectives that start with n

  • naturales –  natural
  • Nuevo – new 
  • Nublado – cloudy 
  • Nervioso – nervous 

Spanish adjectives that start with l

  • libre – free, available
  • Loco/a – crazy 
  • Listo/a – clever
  • Lindo/a – nice, pretty 

Spanish adjectives that start with e

  • elegante –  elegant
  • encantador – charming, lovely 
  • Emprendedor – enterprising 
  • Emocionante – exciting 

Conclusion

Adjectives are essential parts of speech that add detail and color to our language. In Spanish, there are several different types of adjectives, each with its own unique rules and meanings. If you keep these rules in mind, you will be able to use adjectives more effectively in your Spanish and make your language more colorful and precise. 

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