Grammar 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, and su 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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