Language Guide
Adjectives
Short-Form Adjectives in Spanish

Short-Form Adjectives in Spanish

Quick Answer

Some Spanish adjectives need to be shortened when they come before a singular masculine noun. The fancy term for this shortening process is apocopation.

Original AdjectiveShortened AdjectiveExample
bueno
 
buen
 
Nico es un buen chico.
 
malo
 
mal
 
No seas un mal amigo.
 

Common Shortened Adjectives

Quite a few common adjectives are shortened before masculine singular nouns. Here's a list of some you're likely to come across.

Original AdjectiveShortened AdjectiveEnglish
bueno
 
buen
 
good
malo
 
mal
 
bad
uno
 
un
 
one, a
primero
 
primer
 
first
tercero
 
tercer
 
third
ciento
 
cien
 
one hundred
cualquiera
 
cualquier
 
any, whatever
alguno
 
algún
 
some
ninguno
 
ningún
 
none

The shortened adjectives algún and ningún have a written accent mark, or tilde .

Santo Cielo

Santo  is an adjective that is shortened only before certain nouns. It is not shortened with names that begin with Do- or To- or when it precedes a common noun.

San Francisco
Saint Francis
 
San Miguel
Saint Michael
 
Santo Domingo
Saint Dominic
 
Santo Tomás
Saint Thomas
 
el santo templo
the holy temple
 
todo el santo día
all day long (literally: the whole sainted day)
 

Grande

Big Changes

Grande  is shortened when it precedes both masculine and feminine singular nouns.

Vive en una gran casa.
She lives is a great house.
 
Es un gran músico.
He is a great musician.
 

Big Exceptions

The short form of grande is not used when

  • it's used in the comparative or superlative
  • it's used in an exclamatory with the word cuán 
  • when it appears in coordination with other adjectives
Soy más grande que tú.
I'm bigger than you.
 
Es el festival más grande del mundo.
It's the biggest festival in the world.
 
Todavía no se sabe cuán grandes serán las pérdidas.
How great the losses will be is still unknown.
 
La grande y noble nación mexicana superará esto.
The great and noble Mexican people will rise above this.
 

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