The Most Used Adjectives In Spanish: When And How To Use Them

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Mastering adjectives in Spanish is a key part of becoming a well rounded, fluent-like speaker.

Adjectives are what allow you to describe the world around you by giving characteristics to a noun be it information about its color, shape, size, quantity, distance, position and much more.

As you will see, in most cases, Spanish adjectives complement nouns and must be modified in agreeance with relative gender and number – something that you don’t do in English.

However, there are some exceptions – which we’ll cover in this post.

The Various Types Of Adjectives In Spanish:

 

There are several categories of Spanish adjectives that you should learn.

Demonstrative adjectives:

  • This place is beautiful – Este lugar es hermoso.
  • I  like that dog – Me gusta ese perro.

Possessive adjectives:

  • The children are mine – Los niños son míos.
  • Those books are yours – Esos libros son tuyos.

Indefinite adjectives:

  • Any of them – Cualquiera de ellos.
  • I have too many pets – Tengo demasiadas mascotas.

Exclamatory adjectives:

  • What a good day! – ¡Qué buen día!
  • How cold! – ¡Cuánto frío!

Descriptive adjectives:

  • The big house – La casa grande.  
  • A private beach – Una playa privada.

Positive adjectives:

  • Our teacher is way too good – Nuestro profesor es demasiado bueno.
  • Your neighbour is really friendly – Tu vecino es muy amigable.

Comparative adjectives:

  • Alejandro is faster than Arturo – Alejandro es más rápido que Arturo.
  • That building is higher than the others Ese edificio es más alto que los demás.

Now that you have a overview of the different types of adjectives in Spanish, we can go deep and examine each category in detail, and how you can use them.

1. Demonstrative Adjectives In Spanish

Demonstrative adjectives are used to specify how close or far an object is from a person or other objects. In other words, these Spanish adjectives are used to describe different perspectives in relation to distance.

When used in a sentence, a demonstrative adjective is always followed by the noun and always matches the gender and number of the noun we are talking about.

  • This car is new – Este carro es nuevo.
  • These cars are new – Estos carros son nuevos.
  • That house is ours – Esa casa es nuestra.
  • Those houses are ours – Esas casas son nuestras.

As you can see, If the noun is masculine and singular, so is the demonstrative adjective. If the noun is plural and feminine, the demonstrative adjective will match this – and so on.

Knowing which demonstrative adjective to use will depend on the distance.

English Equivalent

 

Distance:

Close

English Equivalent Distance:

Far

English Equivalent Distance:

Farther

Feminine singular This Esta That Esa That Aquella
Feminine Plural These Estas Those Esas Those Aquellas
Masculine Singular This Este That Ese That Aquel
Masculine Plural These Estos Those Esos Those Aquellos

As we said, knowing which demonstrative adjective to use will depend on the distance between you and the object or person you are talking about.

Let’s look at three different scenarios.

a) If the object or person you are talking about is near to you (within reach) use: esta, este, estas, estos.

  • This book I am reading is very interesting – Este libro que estoy leyendo es muy interesante.
  • My mother bought these shoes for me – Mi mamá compró estos zapatos para mí.
  • These flowers are for my grandmother, not for you – Estas flores son para mi abuela, no para ti

b) If the object or person you are talking about is a little bit further, maybe still in vision but out of your physical range, use: esa, ese, esas, esos.

  • Can you give me those magazines that are next to you? – ¿Puedes darme esas revistas que están a tu lado?
  • I like that doll that is behind you – Me gusta esa muñeca que está detrás de ti
  • Those dogs are up for adoption – Esos perros están en adopción

c) If the object or person you are talking about, is really far from you and people around you and It may or may not be in vision, but is very far in the distance, use: aquella, aquel, aquellas, aquellos.

  • Can you see those houses across the bridge? – ¿Puedes ver aquellas casas cruzando el puente?
  • Let´s wait under those trees – Vamos a esperar debajo de aquellos árboles.
  • Do you remember that man who helped us in the supermarket? – ¿Recuerdas aquel hombre que nos ayudó en el supermercado?

2. Possessive Adjectives In Spanish

As per the name, this category is used to express possession.

Just like English, these adjectives in Spanish can be used to speak about possession of things (my watch), as well indicating a personal relationship with someone (my mother).

  • My house is big – Mi casa es grande
  • She is his mother – Ella es su mamá.
  • Our friends are funny – Nuestros amigos son divertidos.

There are two types of possessive adjectives:

a. Unaccented or weak possessive adjectives:

These adjectives don’t include an accent mark. Only the pronouns for “we” will change depending on the gender of the noun.

Let’s see how it works:

Personal

pronoun

Weak Possessive adjective singular   Weak Possessive adjective plural English Equivalent
Yo Mi Mis My
Tu Tu Tus Your
Él / Ella / Usted Su Sus His/Her
Nosotros / Nosotras Nuestro / Nuestra Nuestros / Nuestras Our
Ellos / Ellas Su Sus Their
Ustedes Su Sus Yours
  • My family is very big – Mi familia es muy grande
  • My dogs are adopted – Mis perros son adoptados
  • Her friend is sick – Su amiga está enferma
  • Your cousins are funny – Tus primos son divertidos

As we already mentioned, only the plural possessive adjective for “nosotros” and “nosotras” will match the gender of the noun: “nuestro” and “nuestra”.

  • Our daughters are twins – Nuestras hijas son gemelas(plural feminine)
  • Our sons are soccer players – Nuestros hijos son jugadores de fútbol (plural masculine)
  • Our house is quite – Nuestra casa es tranquila (singular feminine)
  • Our car is red – Nuestro carro es rojo (singular masculine)

b. Tonic or strong possessive adjectives

Also known as “possessive pronouns”, some of these adjectives use an the accent mark, and all of them respect the gender and number of the noun.

These possessive adjectives are always positioned after the noun.

Personal pronoun Feminine  singular Feminine  Plural Masculine singular Masculine plural English Equivalent
Yo Mía Mías Mío Míos Mine
Tu Tuya Tuyas Tuyo Tuyos Yours
Él / Ella / Usted Suya Suyas Suyo Suyos His/Her
Nosotros / Nosotras Nuestra Nuestras Nuestro Nuestros Ours
Ellos / Ellas Suya Suyas Suyo Suyos Theirs
Ustedes Suya suyas Suyo Suyos Yours
  • This house is mine – Esta casa es mía
  • Those shoes are mine – Esos zapatos son míos
  • Are these shopping bags yours?  – ¿Estas bolsas de compras son tuyas?
  • Those friends of her are very annoying – Esas amigas suyas son muy fastidiosas
  • That hat is his – Ese sombrero es suyo
  • Those kids are ours – Esos niños son nuestros
  • These shirts are ours – Estas camisas son nuestras

3. Indefinite Adjectives In Spanish

An indefinite adjective does not refer specifically to any person, thing or quantity.

Indefinite adjective can be best remembered by the fact that they don’t describe the noun, but instead give a vague idea, about a non-specific, undefined amount of the noun.

Hence why they are called: indefinite.

These adjectives do change, depending on the gender and number.

Below we are going to cover several indefinite adjectives that you should know.

To talk about people:

Alguien: Someone, anyone, somebody.

  • Is there anyone I know in the party? – ¿Hay alguien que yo conozca en la fiesta?
  • Can someone help me? – ¿Alguien puede ayudarme?

Cualquier, cualquiera: Any, anyone.

  • Women can be friends with any man – Las mujeres pueden ser amigas de cualquier hombre.
  • Anyone could have solved that test. It was very easy – Cualquiera pudo haber resuelto ese examen. Estaba muy fácil

Nadie: No one, nobody.

  • Nobody came to visit me at the hospital – Nadie vino a visitarme al hospital
  • No one can enter the party without an invitation. – Nadie puede entrar a la fiesta sin una invitación

Ningún, ninguna: none, not even one.

  • There is no person in the world who can travel to the moon by car – No hay Ninguna persona en el mundo que pueda viajar a la luna en carro
  • No student passed the exam – Ningún estudiante aprobó el examen

To talk about things: these adjectives follow a conjugated verb.

Algo: Something.

  • Did you buy something today? -¿Compraste algo hoy?
  • Bring me something from your trip to South America – Tráeme algo de tu viaje a Sudamérica

Nada: Nothing, anything.

Any time you use the word “nada” in a sentence, you need to use also the negative word “no” before it (ie. to create a double negative).

  • There’s nothing in the fridge – No hay nada en la nevera
  • I can’t see anything from here – No puedo ver nada desde aquí

Cualquier, cualquiera: Any.

  • Choose any dress, both look good on you. – Elige cualquier vestido, los dos te quedan bien
  • There is free food for everyone. Anyone can come to eat. – Hay comida gratis para todos. Cualquiera puede venir a comer

To talk about people and things:

Demasiado(s),  Demasiada(s): Too many , Too much.

  • There are too many people in the bank – Hay demasiadas personas en el banco
  • We have too many books in the house – Tenemos demasiados libros en la casa

Mucho (s), Mucha (s): A lot, many.

  • There was a lot of food at the party. – Había mucha comida en la fiesta
  • There are many  animals in the zoo –  Hay muchos animales en el zoológico

Algún / Alguna: Some, any.

  • Please ask if there is any room available at this hotel – Por favor, pregunta si hay alguna habitación disponible en este hotel
  • Is there any teacher who could explain this lesson to me? – ¿Hay algún profesor que pueda explicarme esta lección?

Ambos / Ambas: Both

  •  I like both types of wine, red and white – Me gustan ambos tipos de vino, el rojo y el blanco
  • Both women came to see the concert. – Ambas mujeres vinieron a ver el concierto

Poco (s) / Poca (s): Little bit, few.

  • My soup is a little salty.- Mi sopa está un poco salada
  • There were few people in the supermarket. – Habían pocas personas en el supermercado

Exclamatory Adjectives In Spanish

There are two important rules that you should know about exclamatory adjectives in Spanish: 1) they’re always used at the beginning of a sentence, and 2) they are always placed before the noun.

We use these adjectives in order to express emotion, and also to emphasize the meaning of the noun. However, not all of these adjectives will match the gender and number of the noun.

The adjectives themselves look very similar to the Spanish question words (¿qué?, ¿cuánto? etc ) and like the question words, they always include the accent mark.

When speaking Spanish, the distinction between question words and exclamatory adjectives comes from the pronunciation and tone of the sentence (ie. your tone should indicate excitement or surprise).

When you are writing or reading in Spanish, you can notice the difference thanks to the question marks (¿-?) vs exclamation marks. (¡-!)

  • What a joy to see you! – ¡Qué alegría verte!
  • How beautiful is your dog! – ¡Qué bello es tu perro!
  • Wow, look how much food you’ve brought! – ¡Wow, mira cuánta comida has traído!
Exclamatory adjective English equivalent Feminine singular /  plural Masculine singular / plural
Qué What Qué Qué
Cuánto How much Cuánta / Cuántas Cuánto / cuántos
  • How beautiful your dress is! – ¡Qué hermoso es tu vestido!
  • How strong is that man! – ¡Cuánta fuerza tiene ese hombre!
  • Look, how many flowers you have! – ¡Mira cuántas flores tienes!
  • How Awful! – ¡Que horror!

Descriptive Adjectives In Spanish

These are the adjectives we use to give specific attributes to a noun be it color, shape, size, or anything that helps us describe something or someone.

These adjectives always go after the noun and are not only used for physical characteristics, but also for describing personalities, behaviors and so on.

As you will see, descriptive adjectives will always match the number of the noun, and most of the time, match the gender.

  • The ball is yellow and green – La pelota es amarilla y verde
  • The girls are sad – Las niñas están tristes
  • The boy is happy – El niño está feliz
  • Her cat is very quite – Su gato es muy tranquilo
  • The building is very high – El edificio es muy alto

Let’s explore each different group of descriptives adjectives:

a. Positive: Adjectives used to give a description, without comparing the noun to anything else

  • The pink shoes – Los zapatos rosados
  • The black dog – El perro negro
  • The quiet beach – La playa tranquila
  • The handsome man – El hombre guapo

b. Comparative: Adjectives used to compare (obviously) the characteristics and qualities of two or more objects or people. And there are 3 ways to make use of this comparative form.

1. To express superiority

When the characteristic of one object or person is greater than another:

More + (adjective) + than

Más + (adjetivo) + que

  • Dark chocolate is more delicious than white chocolate. – El chocolate oscuro es más delicioso que el chocolate blanco
  • Summer is more fun than winter – El verano es más divertido que el invierno

2. To express inferiority

When the characteristic of one object or person is less than another.

Less + (Adjective) + than

Menos + (Adjetivo) + que  

  • My house is less big than yours – Mi casa es menos grande que la tuya.
  • Baseball is less entertaining than football – El baseball es menos entretenido que el fútbol.

There are two exceptions where “más que” and  “menos que” need to be replaced as  comparative adjectives.

To replace bueno (good) with mejor (better), and malo (bad) with peor (worse)

  • My brother is better in maths than me – Mi hermano es mejor en matemáticas que yo.
  • This summer’s heat is worse than the last one – El calor de este verano es peor que el anterior.

3. To express equality:

When there is no “more or less” and the adjectives are equal.

As + (adjective) + as

Tan + (adjetivo) + como

  • My mom’s food is as tasty as my grandmother´s –  La comida de mi mamá es tan sabrosa como la de mi abuela
  • Dogs are just as funny as cats – Los perros son tan divertidos como los gatos

4. Superlative:

With these type of sentences, we make it clear that the characteristic or quality of something or someone is much greater than everything else (ie. there’s no comparison).

These respect and gender and number – with the the exception of “mejor” and peor ”

  • The best: El mejor, Lo mejor, la mejor
  • The worst: El peor, lo peor, la peor

And superlatives have their own formula too:

Definite article + More/less + adjective

Artículo determinado + más / menos + adjetivo

  • Michael Phelps is the fastest swimmer. – Michael Phelps es el nadador más rápido
  • Exercising is best for your health – Hacer ejercicios es lo mejor para tu salud
  • This has been the worst game – Este ha sido el peor juego
  • This restaurant serves the most delicious food in the whole city – Este restaurante sirve la comida más deliciosa de toda la ciudad

Now that we have covered each category of Spanish adjectives in great detail, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test.

Practice: Adjectives In Spanish

Can you use the correct adjectives in each of the below sentences?

(scroll down for the answers)

  1. Quiero ___ vestido azul. ( I want this blue dress)
  1. ¿De quién son ___ zapatos? (Whose shoes are those?)
  1. ____ verano que pasamos juntos, fue el mejor. (That summer we spent together, it was the best)
  1. ¿Quién es ____ mujer tan linda? ( Who is that beautiful woman?)
  1. ¿De quién es ____ perro? Ese perro es suyo. (Whose dog is this? This dog is her)
  1. _____ madre está en la playa. ( Our mother is at the beach)
  1. Esta es ___ maleta. (This is my bag)
  1. Por favor, no toques ____ cosas. (Please don’t touch her things)
  1. Esas llaves son ____. (Those keys are mine)
  1. Alguien se comió ____ sopa. (Somebody ate my soup)
  1. No hay nada de café. ____ pudo tomarlo. (There’s no coffee. Anyone could have taken it.)
  1. Puedes invitar a ____. (You can invite both) (Feminine)
  1. Tengo _____ días en esta ciudad. (I have a few days in this town.)
  1. ¡____ día tan hermoso! (What a beautiful day!)
  1. ¡____ insectos hay aquí! (How many bugs are in here)
  1. ¡Mira ____ botellas de vino hay! (Look how many bottles of wine there are)
  1. Los nuevos tacones que compré son muy ____( The new high heels I bought are very high)
  1. La comida estaba _____. (The food was delicious)
  1. Su cabello es ____ y ____ ( Her hair is long and purple)
  1. Ir a la playa es ____ divertido ____ ir a la montaña. (Going to the beach is more fun than going to the mountain)
  1. Estudiar español es _____ difícil ____ estudiar japonés. ( Studying Spanish is less difficult than studying Japanese)
  1. El café es _____ que el refresco. (Coffee is better than soda)
  1. Los brownies son ____ deliciosos ____ las tortas de queso. (Brownies are as delicious as cheese cakes)
  1.  Mi profesora de danza es ______. (My dance teacher is the best)
  1. Su oficina es ____  _____ tranquila. ( Her office is the quietest)

ANSWERS:

  1. Quiero este vestido azul.
  1. ¿De quién son esos zapatos?
  1. Aquel verano que pasamos juntos, fue el mejor.
  1. Quién es esa mujer tan linda?
  1. De quién es este perro? Ese perro es suyo.
  1. Nuestra madre está en la playa.
  1. Esta es mi maleta.
  1. Por favor, no toques sus cosas.
  1. Esas llaves son mías.
  1. Alguien se comió mi sopa.
  1. No hay nada de café. Cualquiera pudo tomarlo.
  1. Puedes invitar a ambas.
  1. Tengo pocos días en esta ciudad.
  1. ¡Qué día tan hermoso!
  1. ¡Cuántos insectos hay aquí!
  1. ¡Mira cuántas botellas de vino hay!
  1. Los nuevos tacones que compré son muy altos
  1. La comida estaba deliciosa.
  1. Su cabello es largo y morado
  1. Ir a la playa es más divertido que ir a la montaña.
  1. Estudiar español es menos difícil que estudiar japonés.
  1. El café es mejor que el refresco.
  1. Los brownies son tan deliciosos como las tortas de queso.
  1. Mi profesora de danza es la mejor.
  1. Su oficina es la más tranquila.
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