Make your own free website on

Forms of adjectives

As we know, adjectives must agree with the nouns they modify.  Some adjectives agree in number (singular/plural) and gender(masculine/femenine), while other must agree in just number ( because they have no distinction masculine/femenine).

So how can you tell if an aadjective has to change gender?  Remember that all "base" words are expressed in the dictionary- or on tests- in the masculine, singular form.  So you can tell if the word will change by looking at its masculine,singular form.

Placement of Adjectives

As we know, most of the time adjectives in Spanish follow the noun.  You may have actually done this when you did the opening activity for this page.  What did you write for the five items you have that you described?  This rule will hold true, but we will also look at when adjectives preceed the noun.

First we have to break the topic of adjectives into two categories, and this is very important- but easy.  Adjectives generally fall into one of two categories:

So, as far as placement is concerned, we can draw some simple conclusions.  Descriptive adjectives usually follow the noun they describe.  Limiting adjectives usually preceed the noun they describe.

Are there exceptions?  Of course, but it does make a difference, so follow carefully.

Descriptive adjectives can preceed the noun, but pay attention to why, or what happens.

"Normal" meaning, when following noun
Changed meaning, when used before the noun
old (age, ancient)
old (former, long standing)
sure, reliable
a certain (specific)
great, famous
him- (her-) -self
new (shiny)
new (to the owner)
poor- sin dinero
poor, unfortunate
silly, simpleminded
simple, mere

Some examples of the above:

Also, descriptive adjectives preceed the noun when they state an inherent or natural characterisitic of the item.  Let's see what the heck this means.

Let's compare meaning if we switch the placement on this one:
BUENO and MALO can be placed before or after the noun without changing meaning.

Es un hombre bueno (malo).  or  Es un buen (mal) hombre.  = He's a good (bad) man.

Limiting Adjectives- They are almost always found before the noun.  Period.  That's it.  You will see an exception to this when you do possessives.

This might be a good time to look at some "limiting" adjectives.  Again, these tell you which one or how many or how much of something.
Here are some of the more common ones:

Practice simple adjective rules.     Do some more.

Shortened forms of Adjectives

Some adjectives shorten their forms, and you've seen this happen.  Es buen día.  Hace mal tiempo.  Algún día...
There are specific words, and specific rules to follow.

The following all shorten by dropping the "o" BEFORE a MASCULINE, SINGULAR noun only.

These also drop the "o"before masculine, singular nouns,  but also add an accent.  (Can you figure out what makes these different from the ones above?)
"SANTO" becomes "SAN" before names unless the name begins wit "TO" or "DO"

San Juan, San Francisco, San Miguel, San José; but Santo Tomás, Santo Domingo

The adjective "GRANDE" shortens to GRAN  before any singular noun- masculine or femenine.  (This is because there is no gender distinction for this adjective.)

gran persona, gran hombre, gran libro, gran chica, etc.

The adjective "CIENTO" shortens to "CIEN" when it preceeds a noun.  This does not hold for the multiples of ciento- doscientos, trescientos, etc.

cien libros, cien personas, cien millones de dólares, etc.

Let's practice with some translations.  Translate the English adjective into SPanish, and write the correct phrase on your paper, being careful to place the adjective correctly and put it into its correct form.

Check what you did.

As you continue now in your work, be careful how you use your adjectives!
¡Hasta luego!

buen libro/libro bueno; mujer hablaadora; mal día/día malo; ningún disco; primera página; cine personas, algunas muchachas; niños alegres; altos picos; primer planeta; San Carlos; tercer viaje; Santa Bárbara; buenas noticias/noticias buenas; algún drama; hombre pobre; pobre mujer; versos malos/malos versos