Noun Suffixes in Spanish
This guide will teach you suffixes you can add to nouns to make new words in Spanish. Noun suffixes can be broken down into three categories: diminutive, augmentative, and pejorative.
There’s no doubt you’ve heard words like burritoand mamacita, but you might not know that these words are prime examples of diminutive suffixes. Diminutive suffixes are attached to a noun to make it seem smaller, cuter, or less significant. For example, adding -ito to gato(cat) changes the meaning to kitty. Diminutive suffixes are also used when showing love/affection, pity, irony, humor, ridicule, politeness, or when talking to a child.
When using suffixes, don’t forget to follow the gender rules. Noun suffixes always agree with the gender and number of the noun in question.
There are three major spelling changes when working with diminutives:
Let’s take a look at some examples!
Augmentative suffixes are added to nouns to indicate increased size or intensity, often with a negative connotation. They are basically the opposite of diminutives. Let’s take a look at the most common augmentative suffixes in Spanish.
To use these suffixes, drop the final vowel and add the suffix, or if the last letter is a consonant, attach the suffix to the end. Don’t forget that gender rules apply!
|-azo/-aza||Used to increase the size, quality, or intensity of a noun.|
|-ote/-ota||Depending on the speaker’s point of view, this suffix can also be used to express a large size in a positive or negative manner.|
|-ón/-ona||Most commonly used to increase the size of physical characteristics. It is also used to emphasize the importance or greatness of a noun or to speak negatively about single individuals.|
Here are some examples:
Pejorative suffixes are used to refer to a noun in an undesirable or offensive way. Some of the suffixes already listed (as in -ote, -ón, and -uelo) can be used pejoratively, as well as those shown in the following table.
The translation of a noun used with a pejorative suffix depends entirely on context.
|Suffix||example||possible translations (depending on context)|
|-aco/-aca||lousy book/boring book/trashy book|
|-acho/-acha||filthy rich man/fat cat|
|-astro/-astra||ramshackle bed/rickety old bed|
|-ejo/-eja||odd-looking creature/nasty animal|
Other Noun Suffixes
Some common noun suffixes in Spanish don’t fit into any of the given categories, but they are good to know!
|-al/-ar||Used to denote a grove.||orange grove|
|-ería||Used to indicate a place where something is sold or a profession.||shoe store|
|-ero/-era||Used to denote a person who sells something or is in charge of something.||shoe saleswoman|
|-ada||similar to English suffix -ful||spoonful|