Why do some adjectives precede the nouns in Spanish sentances while others follow it ?*

Why do some adjectives precede the nouns in Spanish sentances while others follow it ?*


Who do some adjectives precede the noun in Spanish sentances while most seem to follow it ?

I am learning more or less through observation (of good written examples of Spanish) and intuition when to place the adjective before or after but what are the guiding rules, please?

updated JUN 17, 2010
posted by FELIZ77

2 Answers


Actually, the placement of certain adjectives can change the meaning of the word.

For example:

Madrid es una gran ciudad. Madrid is a great city.

Madrid es una ciudad grande. Madrid is a huge city.

José es mi viejo amigo. José is an old (of long-standing) friend of mine.

José is mi amigo viejo. José is my old (in years) friend.

A few more:

un nuevo carro - a (brand) new car

un carro nuevo - a new (different, other)

un hombre pobre - a poor man (with no money)

un pobre hombre - a poor (unfortunate, wretched) man

Also, following the noun, the adjective seems to be stronger.


updated ENE 5, 2011
edited by Delores--Lindsey
posted by Delores--Lindsey
You have them correct-intrinsic quality front; descriptive-behind. - 0074b507, JUN 17, 2010
Nice explanation - KevinB, JUN 17, 2010

Frequently asked question. I suggest that you search previous posts like this one:

How to position adjectives in Spanish

We also have a Reference Article on the placement of adjectives.

updated JUN 17, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
Great! I didn't know that there was a post on this. I'm still leanring as I go. Gracias, Quinton - Delores--Lindsey, JUN 17, 2010
We try to encourage people to research their question, before asking it. It reduces repetition of basic grammar, and allows more specific questions to be asked. - 0074b507, JUN 17, 2010
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