Introduction to Adjectives

Adjectives

Adjectives from the Spanish in Texas Corpus

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. The major differences between adjectives in Spanish and English concern agreement and placement. In Spanish, an adjective is usually placed after the noun it modifies, though there are exceptions such as numbers, and must agree in gender and number with the noun. In English, an adjective usually comes before the noun it modifies and is invariable, that is, it does not agree. In the example below, note how the adjective limpia follows the noun persona, but the adjective ocho precedes the noun años.

Teníamos que rotar para lavar la cocina, dejar la cocina impecable porque mi mamá era una persona muy limpia, y a los ocho años me dijo: mi hijita, feliz cumpleaños, tienes ocho años y hoy ya puedes participar en la rotación.
We had to rotate to clean the kitchen, to leave the kitchen impeccable because my mom was a very clean person and at age eight she told me: my little girl, happy birthday, you are eight years old and today you can now participate in the rotation.

Adjectives vs. Adverbs

Remember that adjectives modify nouns and adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. In the following sentence, there are two adjectives, mexicanas and bonitas, both of which modify the noun tradiciones and one adverb muy which modifies the adjective bonitas.

Y las tradiciones mexicanas son muy bonitas.
And Mexican traditions are very nice.

It is common in spoken and informal English for speakers to use adjectives, such as good, in place of adverbs, such as well to modify verbs.

With an Adjective With an Adverb
Juan writes good Juan writes well
You need to drive slow in a school zone You need to drive slowly in a school zone

In Spanish, adjectives are rarely used to modify verbs; using the adverb is normally favored.

With an Adjective With an Adverb
Juan escribe bueno. Juan escribe bien.
Necesitas manejar lento en una zona escolar Necesitas manejar lentamente en una zona escolar