Adjective (Adjetivo)


Unlike in English, the adjectives in Spanish agree in gender and number with the nouns they refer to, cf.:

Gender of the Adjectives (Género de los Adjetivos)

Adjectives of two forms

The adjectives ending in masculine by -o change it to -a to form feminine, cf.: The adjectives ending in masculine by -ol, -és, -án, -ón, -dor (-tor) add -a to form feminine, cf.:
 
  • español 
  • inglés 
  • holgazán 
  • dormilón 
  • traidor 
: española Spanish
: inglesa   English
: holgazana   lazy
: dormilona   sleepy
: traidora   treacherous

The adjectives ending in masculine by -z denoting nationality also add -a to form feminine, cf.:

Some diminutive adjectives suffixed by -ete form feminine by -eta, cf.:

Adjectives of one form

The adjectives ending by a vowel (but -o) or by a consonant (except for the above cases) have a common form for masculine and feminine, i.e. they are uniform, cf.:
 
       Masculine Feminine
  • partido comunista   communist party 
  • papel verde   green paper 
  • soldado marroquí   Moroccan soldier 
  • rito hindú   Hindu rite 
  • ordenador personal   personal computer 
  • libro común   common book 
  • hombre feliz   happy man 
organización comunista   communist organization
mesa verde   green table
aldea marroquí    Moroccan village
religión hindú   Hindu religion
camara personal   personal chamber
causa común   common cause
mujer feliz   happy woman

The uniform adjectives have only one form for masculine and feminine. Except for the adjectives ended by -a, the majority of the other uniform adjectives was inherited in Spanish from the Latin adjectives of the third declension.
 
 

Apocoped Forms

Some adjectives are apocoped when used before the nouns:
 
Before the nouns After the nouns Meaning Examples
buen
gran 
mal 
san
bueno 
grande 
malo 
santo
good
big, great
bad
holy
buen camino   vs.  viento bueno 
gran hombre   vs.   labor grande 
mal tiempo      vs.   viento malo 
San Miguel      vs.   hombre santo

 

Plural of the Adjectives (Plural de los Adjetivos)

Termination Plural Examples
vowel + -s blanco : blancos 
grande : grandes
stressed vowel
consonant
+ -es hindú : hindues 
inglés : ingleses 
feliz   : felices

 

Degree of the Adjectives (Grado de los Adjetivos)

Comparative Degree
Formation
Examples
of Superiority
más + ADJ + que
Él es más alto que Juan.
He is taller than Juan.
of Equality
tan + ADJ + como
Ella es tan ágil como la mdre.
She is as quick as her mother.
of Inferiority
menos + ADJ. + que
Soy menos hábil que tu.
I am less skilful than you.
   .
Superlative Degree
Formation
Examples
Absolute Synthectic
+ -ísimo

See the Latin Superlative Degree

duro hard : durísimo
fácil easy : facilísimo
urgente urgent : urgentísimo

See the List of Particularities.

Absolute Analytical
muy + ADJ.

See also below.

muy grande very big
muy mal  very bad
Relative of Superiority
DEF. ART.más + ADJ.
Eso es el más antiguo. 
It is the most ancient.

Fui la más hábil.
She was the most skilful.

Relativo of Inferiority
DEF. ART.menos + ADJ.
Fui la menos hábil.
She was the least skilful.

The analytical forms follow the pattern of the Latin Periphrastic Degrees.

According to the official grammar a lot of adjectives may not form the absolute superlative degree by -ísimo. These are:

  1. all the adjectives terminated by -uo: continuo continuous, mutuo mutual etc.;
  2. all the adjectives terminated by -ble that are of more than three syllables, such as: responsable responsible, respetable respectable etc.;
  3. the greatest part of the adjectives terminated by -io (-ío): necio foolish, sombrío shadowy etc.;
  4. all the adjectives terminated by -eo that are stressed on the antepenultimate syllable: momentáneo momentary, espontáneo spontaneous etc.;
  5. all the adjectives terminated by à stressed : baladí worthless, turquí turquoise etc.;
  6. adjectives that seem senseless to be graded, such as: inmortal immortal, eterno eternal, infinito infinite;
  7. from the adjectives: soberbio haughty, pacífico pacific, cortés courteous, infante kindish, brutal brute.
The Absolute Superlative degree may be formed analytically also by using the adverbs:

Irregular degrees (Comparativos y superlativos irregulares)

Adjective
Comparative 
Superlative
Regular Irregular Regular Irregular
bueno good más bueno mejor buenísimo (boni-) óptimo
malo bad más malo peor malísimo pésimo
grande big más grande mayor grandísimo máximo
pequeño little más pequeño menor pequeñísimo mínimo
alto   high más alto superior altísimo supremo
bajo   low más bajo inferior bajísimo ínfimo

See the Irregular suppletive degrees in Latin.
 
 


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