Today’s goals are:
● To learn about adjectives
● To learn how to talk about our immediate family
Listen to Track 2.2.1
Mi madre es alta. Yo soy baja. Mi hermano es bajo, también. Mi padre es divertido, pero mi hermana es aburrida. Yo soy divertida. Mi madre es inteligente. Tenemos una casa roja. Es una casa pequeña. También es una casa limpia.
My mother is tall. I am short. My brother is short, too. My dad is fun, but my sister is boring. I am fun. My mother is smart. We have a red house. It is a small house. It’s also a clean house.
Listen to Track 2.2.2
So far, we’ve learned that nouns can be 1) singular or plural and 2) masculine or feminine – which is weird for English speakers to wrap their heads around.
Words that end in -o like tiempo* (“time” or “weather”) and momento (“moment”) are masculine, and words that end in -a like cosa (“thing”) and hora (“hour” or “time”) are feminine. Not all nouns end in -o or -a, though. We talked about how words that end in -e are masculine, like nombre (name), and words that end in -cion like educación (education) are feminine.
*Note: Tiempo refers to time when you’re speaking of “time” in general (i.e. I don’t have a lot of time). Hora refers to a specific time (i.e. What time is it?). We will go into this in more detail in a future chapter, so don’t fret too much about it right now.
We looked at these rules and more yesterday. Today, we’re going to learn how to do more than just say the nouns. We’re going to learn how to describe them.
Before we jump in with both feet, let’s take a moment to make sure we know what it is we’re jumping into – a big pool of adjectives!
What are adjectives, exactly? Well, they’re the words we use when we want to describe our nouns. They answer the questions: What kind? How many? How much? Which one?
For example: Which girl are you talking about? I’m talking about the smart girl.
Here, “smart” is describing the girl (telling you which girl we’re talking about). We could also say “the tall building” or “the cute dog.” When we want to explain that we’re talking about “the red book” or “the scary movie,” we use adjectives!
Listen to Track 2.2.3
As I’m sure you can imagine, being able to use adjectives in Spanish is very important. How else would you describe “la chica inteligente” (“the smart girl) or “el edificio alto” (“the tall building”)?
Listen carefully to the following list of 25 of the most common adjectives spoken in Spanish. Don’t forget to pay attention to the pronunciation. Listen once through carefully, and then again, repeating the words as you hear them.
- Alto – Tall
- Bajo – Short
- Grande – Big
- Pequeño – Small
- Rico – Rich
- Pobre – Poor
- Feo – Ugly
- Guapo – Attractive/Handsome
- Lindo – Pretty
- Inteligente – Smart/Intelligent
- Tonto – Stupid
- Caro – Expensive
- Barato – Cheap
- Feliz – Happy
- Triste – Sad
- Fuerte – Strong
- Débil – Weak
- Limpio – Clean
- Sucio – Dirty
- Delgado – Skinny
- Gordo – Fat
- Bueno – Good
- Malo – Bad
- Divertido – Fun
- Aburrido – Boring
And, of course, the colors:
- Rojo – Red
- Azul – Blue
- Verde – Green
- Amarillo – Yellow
- Anaranjado OR Naranja* – Orange
- Negro – Black
- Blanco – White
- Rosa – Pink
- Marrón – Brown
- Gris – Gray
*In Latin America, “anaranjado” is used to refer to the color, while “naranja” refers to the fruit. In Spain, “naranja” is used for both the color and the fruit.
Now that we have a good, working list of common Spanish adjectives, let’s start talking technicalities. There are a few important rules you need to remember when using these useful parts of speech in Spanish.
Rules to Remember
Listen to Track 2.2.4
- Adjectives, like nouns, can be singular or plural. This is something we don’t do in English, so you’re going to want to let it sink in for a second. If you are talking about a noun in the plural form, then you will use an adjective in the plural form.
- Grande-grandes (Big)
- Rico-ricos (Rich)
- Azul-azules (Blue)
- Also like nouns in Spanish, adjectives can be either masculine or feminine. If you go back and look at the list we just went over, you’ll notice a bunch of those adjectives have an asterisk (*) next to them. If that’s the case, that means they will change when they are in their feminine form. The -o will change to an -a.
- Alto-alta (Tall)
- Rojo-roja (Red)
- Limpio-limpia (Clean)
- Some adjectives have two forms (those that don’t end in -o), while others have four (those that do end in -o). Look at the chart below:
Listen to Track 2.2.5
Adjectives with Two Forms (Singular-PPlural)
Adjectives with Four Forms (Singular Masculine- Singular Feminine- Plural Masculine- Plural Feminine)
Inteligente- Inteligentes (Smart/Intelligent)
Feliz- Felices* (Happy)
Fuerte- Fuertes (Strong)
Triste- Tristes (Sad)
** These two colors will never end in an -o. Their singular form always ends in -a, even
if they’re defining a masculine noun.
Note: “Naranja” is the word for “orange” the fruit in Spain and Latin America. In Spain, “naranja” is also the word for
“orange” the color. In Latin America, the term “anaranjado” is used for “orange” the color.
- Adjectives go after the noun.
- In English, we would say “the red house.” But, in Spanish they say, “la casa roja” (literally translated as “the house red”).
The most important thing to remember is AGREE AGREE! Your adjectives have to agree with the nouns in both gender and number.
Listen to Track 2.2.6
El libro rojo – The red book
Los libros rojos – The red books
La ciudad grande – The big city
Las ciudades grandes – The big cities
El perro grande – The big dog
Los perros grandes – The big dogs
Notice in the examples above that if there is only one thing (book, city, dog), the adjective is singular (no -s). But if there is more than one book, city, or dog, the adjective is plural (yes -s). Also, notice that “book” is masculine in Spanish, so its adjective remains masculine in both the singular (rojo) and the plural (rojos).
When the adjective doesn’t end in -o (like with grande) it remains the same in both the masculine example (with perro) and the feminine (with ciudad). It changes between singular (grande) and plural (grandes) but not masculine and feminine.
Note: Making an adjective plural is the same as making an noun plural. Add an -s to a word that ends in a vowel (rojo-rojos) and an -es to a word that ends in a consonant (azul-azules).
The Immediate Family
Let’s put some of these new words to good use. In order to do this, let’s learn another small group of words that we can use to describe our immediate family:
Listen to Track 2.2.7
- Madre – Mother
- Padre – Father
- Padres – Parents
- Hermano – Brother
- Hermana – Sister
- Hermanos – Siblings
In this chapter, we discussed adjectives. Here’s a recap of what we learned:
- Adjectives in Spanish, like nouns, have both a gender and number.
- The adjective HAS to agree with the noun it’s modifying in BOTH gender and number.
- Some adjectives only change from singular to plural, while others will change from singular to plural and masculine to feminine.
- Usually the adjective comes AFTER the noun.
- We also learned vocabulary for the immediate family.