Language Guide
Adjectives
Adjective Placement

Adjective Placement

Quick Answer

In English, adjectives usually go before the nouns they describe.

In Spanish, adjectives usually come after the nouns they describe.

In the examples below, the Spanish adjectives come after the nouns they describe.

Me gustan las flores rojas.
I like red flowers.
 
Mi hermano es un hombre alto.
My brother is a tall man.
 
Prefiero el café negro.
I prefer black coffee.
 

Adjective Placement Exceptions

Spanish adjectives don't always come after the nouns they describe. Below are a list of instances in which Spanish adjectives come before the nouns they describe, just like they do in English.

1. Possessive Adjectives and Demonstrative Adjectives

Possessive adjectives like mi, tu, andsu and demonstrative adjectives like ese, este, and aquel come before the nouns they describe.

Check out these examples of possessive and descriptive adjectives.

Mi hermana es alta.
My sister is tall.
 
Nuestro perro es muy amable.
Our dog is very friendly.
 
Este árbol tiene muchas manzanas.
This tree has a lot of apples.
 
Estas sillas son cómodas.
These chairs are comfortable.
 

2. Limiting Adjectives

Limiting adjectives that define a number or amount of a noun, even if it is not specific, come before the noun.

Check out these examples of limiting adjectives.

Los niños quieren ocho helados.
The children want eight ice creams.
 
Tengo menos dinero que mi hermana.
I have less money than my sister.
 
Hay pocas naranjas este verano.
There are few oranges this summer.
 
Tienes suficiente tiempo.
You have sufficient time.
 

Below you will find a list of common limiting adjectives. Remember that all numbers are limiting adjectives.

SpanishEnglish
alguno
 
some
bastante
 
enough
cuanto
 
as much
demasiado
 
too much
mucho
 
a lot
ninguno
 
no, none
poco
 
a little
suficiente
 
sufficient, enough
varios
 
various, some, a few

3. Essential Qualities

Descriptive adjectives that emphasize an essential quality of a noun often come before the noun.

Check out these examples.

El valiente león protege su territorio.
The brave lion protects his territory.
 
La dulce miel es deliciosa en pan tostado.
Sweet honey is delicious on toast.
 
Las verdes hojas del árbol cantan en el viento.
The green leaves of the tree sing in the breeze.
 

4. Meaning-change Adjectives

Some adjectives can mean different things depending on their placement.

  • When placed after the noun, the adjective has a fairly objective, descriptive meaning.
  • When placed before the noun, the adjective has a more subjective meaning.

Check out these examples of meaning-change adjectives.

Gabriel García Márquez es un gran autor.
Gabriel García Márquez is a great author.
 
Yo tengo una casa grande.
I have a big house.
 
Pablo es mi viejo amigo.
Pablo is my long-time friend.
 
Juanita es mi amiga vieja.
Juanita is my elderly friend.
 

Below you will find a list of common meaning-change adjectives.

AdjectiveBefore the nounAfter the noun
alto
 
top/high-classtall
antiguo
 
old/former/ancientantique
bajo
 
of low qualityshort
bueno
 
simple/goodgood/gentle/generous
cierto
 
certaintrue/right
cualquier
 
any (of those available)any (type doesn't matter)
diferente
 
variousdifferent
distinto
 
variousdifferent
dulce
 
good/nicesweet
grande
 
greatbig
mismo
 
samehimself/herself
nuevo
 
another /newly acquirednew/newly made
pobre
 
unfortunatepoor
propio
 
his/her ownespecially for someone
puro
 
sheer/nothing butpure
raro
 
rarestrange
simple
 
meresimple/modest
solo
 
onelonely
triste
 
dreadfulsad
único
 
onlyunique
varios
 
severaldifferent
viejo
 
former/long-timeold/aged

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