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Spanish Adjectives: A Complete Guide

Adjectives are words that describe nouns. They tell us more about the noun, such as its size, shape, color, or quality. In Spanish, adjectives must agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. This means that the adjective must be either masculine or feminine, and singular or plural, depending on the gender and number of the noun.

In this post, we will learn everything you need to know about Spanish adjectives. We will cover the following topics:

  • The different types of Spanish adjectives
  • How to form Spanish adjectives
  • How to use Spanish adjectives correctly
  • Common mistakes to avoid with Spanish adjectives

By the end of this post, you will be able to use Spanish adjectives like a native speaker!

What are Spanish adjectives?

Spanish adjectives are words that describe nouns. They tell us more about the noun, such as its size, shape, color, or quality. For example, in the sentence “La casa es grande” (The house is big), the adjective “grande” (big) describes the noun “casa” (house).

Spanish adjectives must agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. This means that the adjective must be either masculine or feminine, and singular or plural, depending on the gender and number of the noun. For example, the adjective “alto” (tall) is masculine, so it would be used with a masculine noun, such as “hombre” (man). The adjective “alta” (tall) is feminine, so it would be used with a feminine noun, such as “mujer” (woman).

Spanish adjectives usually come after the nouns they modify. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, when an adjective is used to describe a nationality, it comes before the noun. For example, in the sentence “Soy español” (I am Spanish), the adjective “español” (Spanish) comes before the noun “yo” (I).

Spanish Adjectives video lesson

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Deep Dive: Adjectives in Spanish

Adjectives are words that describe nouns. For example: colors. 

Adjectives in Spanish must match in gender and number to the noun that they describe. 

An easy way to think about it is: When you describe a male vs. when you describe a female, those adjectives are going to be a tiny bit different. The same thing happens if you are describing a group of females vs. a group of males or a mixed group.

Let’s start with the basics of the Spanish adjectives

The masculine form of most adjectives ends in -o. 

To make the adjective plural we will add an -s. The plural form then, will end in -os

.

The feminine form of most adjectives ends in -a.

To make the adjective plural we will add an -s. The plural form then, will end in -as.

Let’s look at some examples:

The adjective alto means tall

If we are talking about ONE male we will say alto.

If we are talking about ONE female we will say alta

If we are talking about a group of only males OR a mixed group we would say altos

If we are talking about a group of ALL females, we would say altas.

Let’s put those sentences together using a Subject pronoun or Subject, and the correct conjugation of the verb ser and the correct form of the adjective. 

Èl es alto. 

Ella

 es alta. 

Ellos son altos. Remember that this one could be used for a group of only males or a mixed group of males and females regardless of the ratio.

Ellas son altas. 

Let’s do one more example together. Let’s use the opposite of alto (tall). Let’s work with the adjective bajo (short) in reference to height. 

Èl es bajo. 

Ella es baja. 

Ellos son bajos.  Remember that this one could be used for a group of only males or a mixed group of males and females regardless of the ratio.

Ellas son bajas. 

There are some adjectives that do not have gender. Like for example the adjective inteligente (intelligent). It does not end in -o therefore it does not change from masculine to feminine. Inteligente is going to be used for both masculine and feminine. 

Having said that, we still have to think of number in case we are talking about more than one person. Since there is no gender, to make inteligente plural we simply add an -s and it becomes inteligentes. If the adjective ends in a vowel like inteligente we simply add an -s.

Let’s break this adjective down so you can see how it would work in all scenarios.

If we are talking about ONE male we will say inteligente.

If we are talking about ONE female we will say inteligente

If we are talking about a group of only males OR a mixed group we would say inteligentes

If we are talking about a group of ALL females, we would say inteligentes.

Èl es inteligente. 

Ella es inteligente. 

Ellos son inteligentes. Remember that this one could be used for a group of only males or a mixed group of males and females regardless of the ratio.

Ellas son inteligentes.

Now, let’s look at the adjective joven (young). Notice how it doesn’t have gender as it doesn’t end in an -o. Now, pay close attention that it doesn’t end in a vowel like inteligente. Instead it ends in a consonant. That will change things a bit when we try to work with the plural form of this verb. Let’s look at it. 

Joven will be used for both feminine and masculine. 

To make joven plural we have to add -es since it ends in a consonant. Therefore, it becomes jóvenes. If the adjective ends in a consonant we add -es to make it plural.

Example: 

Èl es joven. 

Ella es joven. 

Ellos son jóvenes. Remember that this one could be used for a group of only males or a mixed group of males and females regardless of the ratio.

Ellas son jóvenes.

To say you are NOT something in Spanish

like for example, I am not tall you are going to put a NO in front of the verb. 

For example:

Yo no soy alta. 

Yo no soy rubia. 

Ella no es baja.

50 common Spanish adjectives and their English equivalents:

EnglishSpanish
goodbueno
badmalo
biggrande
smallpequeño
fastrápido
slowlento
expensivecaro
cheapbarato
dryseco
wetmojado
easyfácil
difficultdifícil
youngjoven
oldviejo
newnuevo
highalto
lowbajo
shortcorto
longlargo
happyfeliz
sadtriste
angryenojado
scaredasustado
surprisedsorprendido
tiredcansado
hungryhambriento
thirstysediento
hotcaliente
coldfrío
wetmojado
dirtysucio
cleanlimpio
fulllleno
emptyvacío
openabierto
closedcerrado
rightderecho
leftizquierdo
blacknegro
whiteblanco
redrojo
greenverde
blueazul
yellowamarillo
pinkrosa
orangenaranja
purplemorado

Please note that Spanish adjectives must agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. For example, the adjective “alto” (tall) would be used with a masculine noun, such as “hombre” (man), and the adjective “alta” (tall) would be used with a feminine noun, such as “mujer” (woman).

Free handouts (Click to download from Google drive)

Spanish Adjectives hand out
spanish Noun and Adjectives practice