Gramática: Concordancia de adjetivos

Objetivos

  • Recognize the correct position, gender and number of adjectives

Concordancia de adjetivos (Adjective agreement)

You learned in previous lessons that nouns and articles in Spanish must agree in both gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural):

  • Play Audioel hombre (the man)
  • Play Audiolos hombres (the men)
  • Play Audiola niña (the girl)
  • Play Audiounas niñas (some girls)

This same agreement must occur in Spanish when adjectives are used to describe nouns. If the noun you are using is masculine singular, the adjective must be masculine singular as well. It’s important to note that while the gender of nouns is an inherent property, adjectives do not have this inherent characteristic. The gender of an adjective will change according to the noun that it describes.

Four-form adjectives

If an adjective ends in -o for the masculine singular form, it generally will have four forms, agreeing in both gender and number with its noun as seen below.

If the noun is masculine and singular, the adjective that describes the noun will also be masculine and singular:

  • Play Audioel chico generos(the generous boy)

If the noun is feminine and singular, the adjective that describes the noun will also be feminine and singular:

  • Play Audiola chica generos(the generous girl)

If the noun is masculine and plural, the adjective that describes the noun will also be masculine and plural:

  • Play Audiolos chicos generosos (the generous boys)

If the noun is feminine and plural, the adjective that describes the noun will also be feminine and plural:

  • Play Audiolas chicas generosas (the generous girls)

Two-form adjectives

If a masculine singular adjective ends in a consonant or a vowel other than -o (most commonly -e), such as importante, it does not change for gender but it will change for number:

  • Play Audioel documento importante (the important document)
  • Play Audiola clase importante (the important class)
  • Play Audiolos documentos importantes (the important documents)
  • Play Audiolas clases importantes (the important classes)

There is a common subset of two-form adjectives ending in “-ista”, which do not change for the gender of their nouns but do change for number:

  • Roberto es optimista y Carmela es optimista también. (Roberto is optimistic and Carmela is optimistic also.)
  • Ellos son optimistas y ellas son optimistas también. (They (masculine) are optimistic and they (feminine) are optimistic also.)

Pluralization of adjectives

The plurals of adjectives are formed in the same way that you learned in previous lessons for nouns.  Add an -s if the word ends in a vowel; add an -es if the word ends in a consonant:

white flag
  • Play Audioel marcador verde (the green marker)
  • Play Audiolos marcadores verdes (the green markers)
  • Play Audiola bandera blanca (the white flag)
  • las banderas blancas (the white flags)
  • Play Audiola luz débil (the weak light)
  • Play Audiolas luces débiles (the weak lights)

Position of adjectives

Adjectives are usually placed after the noun they are describing, or after the verb ser.

  • Play AudioMi mamá cocina comida rica. (My mom cooks delicious food.)
  • Play AudioLos médicos son inteligentes. (The doctors are intelligent.)

Indefinite adjectives, such as Play Audiomucho (a lot, many), Play Audioalguno (some), Play Audioningun (any), Play Audiocada (every) and numbers, both cardinal and ordinal, precede the noun.

  • Hay muchos libros en la oficina. (There are many books in the office.)
  • Hay siete días en una semana. (There are seven days in one week.)

The adjectives mejor (better, best), peor (worse, worst), menor (younger, less, least) usually come before the noun (we’ll get to the comparatives and superlatives in a later lesson!)

Note: There are a few exceptions to this placement that you will learn in future lessons.  Also, some adjectives mean something slightly different when used before a noun instead of after. Here are just a few examples:

  • Play AudioAlto (top or high / tall): Play AudioPagamos un alto precio (We pay a high price). Play AudioEs un hombre alto (He is a tall man).
  • Único (only / unique): Play AudioCompramos la única marca (We buy the only brand). Play AudioTengo una mochila única (I have a unique backpack).
  • Gran (great) or grande (big, large): Play AudioElla es una gran líder (She’s a great leader). Play AudioElla lidera un país grande (She leads a large country).

Another note: The word grande doesn’t just change meaning when used before a noun, it’s shortened to gran. Other words get shortened only before a masculine singular noun, including: bueno (buen), malo (mal), alguno (algún) and ninguno (ningún).

One more note: When you look up an unfamiliar adjective in the dictionary, only the masculine singular form will be shown. You must make the change yourself according to the gender and/or number of the noun you are using if it is not a masculine singular noun.

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