Adjectives – Formation and Placement

Formation

Adjectives agree in both number and gender with the noun or pronoun they modify. Many adjectives end with -o in the masculine form ending  and with -a in the feminine form, and form the plural by adding -s.

Ahorita todo está bien caro.
Now everything is really expensive.
Los libros pues eran bastante caros.
The books well were pretty expensive.

Adjectives that end in a consonant or e have the same masculine and the feminine form. The plural adjective is formed by adding -s for adjectives ending with a vowel and adding -es for adjectives ending with a consonant.

Esos lugares estaban llenos de gente joven.
Those places were full of young people.
Hay mucha disidencia de los estudiantes jóvenes.
There is a lot of disagreement from young students.
En cuanto lo vi me gustó como era él, como se expresaba, como era amable y todo.
As soon as I saw him, I liked how he was, how he expressed himself, how he was nice and all.
Convivía con muchas personas muy amables, con maestros, con estudiantes.
I lived with many nice people, with teachers, with students.

Placement

After the Noun

In Spanish, most adjectives follow the noun, unlike in English, where the the adjective precedes the noun, as seen in the following example and its translation.

Ahorita estamos trabajando un proyecto muy interesante.
Right now we are working on a very interesting project.

Before the Noun

Indefinite adjectives, such as alguno, ninguna, cada and numbers, both cardinal and ordinal, precede the noun.

Compré algunos animales, y pude tenerlos, entre ellos una yegua muy pícara.
I bought some animals and I managed to keep them, among them a very mischievous mare.
Allí no hay nada, ahí no hay ninguna estación de servicio…es en el medio de la nada.
There isn’t anything there, there isn’t a single gas station…. it’s in the middle of nowhere.
Cuando nació Roberto, que fue el segundo niño, yo recuerdo que para mí era hermoso.
When Roberto was born, who was the second child, I remember that for me he was beautiful.

Meaning Changes

Some adjectives can change meaning depending on whether they precede or follow the noun.

Adjective Before the Noun After the Noun
alto top/high tall
bajo of low quality short
bueno simple/good good/gentle/generous
cierto certain true/right
diferente various different
distinto various different
grande great big
mismo same himself/herself
nuevo another /newly acquired new /newly made
pobre unfortunate poor
propio his/her own especially for someone
puro sheer/ nothing but pure
raro rare strange
simple mere simple / modest
sólo one lonely
único only unique
viejo former/long-time old/aged
El español es muy importante …debido al alto volumen de la inmigración en los Estados Unidos.
Due to the high volume of immigration to the United States.
No es muy alto pero es muy buena onda.
He isn’t very tall but he’s really nice.